Fine Line Mailbag

September 21, 2010

From Temple: “Hi Tom, nice post on using home field advantage in enhancing a pass rush. How strong is this effect league-wide? Could my Rams pay efficiently for a higher-range end who plays outside and at least make folks at the Edward Jones dome happy?”

Thanks for the question Temple! The big question mark here is whether or not shelling out a 4-6 million a year for a speed rushers who makes headlines and casual fans happy is worth it, because that’s what it takes to keep talent like Allen and Freeney around.

That said, as a former St. Louis resident I have experienced the Edward Jones dome (both as a spectator and as a player) and the arena certainly qualifies as a place that gets loud enough to give defensive linemen the extra step they might need to go from good to dominant.

In fact the Rams organization seems to agree with both of us, since they drafted and signed defensive end Chris Long (yes, Howie’s son) and are paying him a salary that approaches that of Freeney and Allen. Long isn’t as speedy as Freeney or Allen though, and is more of an all-around style end like Strahan or Taylor. He has an almost 50/50 home/away split on his NFL career sacks although he has only recorded 9 sacks in his first two seasons with the Rams. That does not quite match his 2007 season with Virginia in which earned 14 sacks over 13 games or justify his 2nd overall draft position.

So I do think the Rams could efficiently pay for an electric sack machine like Dwight Freeney or Jared Allen to bring some excitement back to the franchise, but their recent effort to do just that has regrettably fallen short… so far.

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