One week after containing Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, the Green Bay Packers’ offense line will be in for another challenge this Sunday with the St. Louis Rams’ one-two punch of defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
For all of the Rams’ offensive struggles in recent years, St. Louis has quietly built a stout defense around Long – the son of eight-time Pro Bowler Howie Long and the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft – and Quinn, the Rams’ first-round selection a year ago.
After combining for 18 sacks last season, the investments have continued to pay off this season with the duo already tallying 10 sacks in six games while playing a role on a Rams’ pass defense that currently ranks fifth in the NFL (207.8 yards per game).
During last Sunday’s 42-24 win over Houston, the Packers’ offensive line bounced back nicely following a disheartening 30-27 loss to Indianapolis. Although Watt still picked up a pair of sacks on Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, the Texans struggled to do much else to the MVP quarterback.
Now, the plan is to keep it that way against the Rams.
“He’s another high-motor guy, sou have to lay it on him and stay engaged with him,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said.
“He’s got an excellent motor. He’s going to keep playing to the whistle, so you have to condition yourself that I’m going to play all the way through the whistle with him, too. He’s a fine football player, so is (Quinn). They have two very good edge rushers – quick, explosive, athletic guys right around that 265, 270 range that can make it difficult for you if you’re not playing fundamentally sound against players like that.”
After surrendering five sacks to the Colts during the Packers’ second-half collapse two weeks ago, Campen was pleased with what he saw from his offensive linemen against the Texans, including how they finished their blocks to finding ways to contribute after the play developed.
“They were solid,” Campen said. They were giving extra effort. They were getting down in piles, getting our guys up. Taking extra chips and shots on defenders when they’re uncovered and looking for work, and I was really happy to see they took a lot of pride in that and their finish was much better. It’s not 100 percent where it needs to be, but they finished the blocks and that’s encouraging.”