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SPOT: Best Pass Rushing Duo in the League?

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#1 OFFLINE   Andrew Aziz

Andrew Aziz
    • 416 posts

Posted 08 November 2013 - 03:07 PM

When we think of the best pass rushing duos in the league, who do we think of? We think of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, or Aldon Smith (when mentally right) and Ahmad Brooks, or even Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson out in Carolina. There are many duos that come to mind, but the one that may be the scariest is Robert Quinn and Chris Long.

Robert Quinn is a player who took time to develop and many questioned the pick at first. With a 5 sack rookie season, those doubts grew larger, especially when players around him were compiling double digit amount of sacks. Then a 10 sack season the next year reassured the fan base that potential was there. Through 9 games this season, he has already surpassed that mark and is leaving his mark on the NFL. He is becoming one of the best pass rushers in the league and a very underrated player. As for his partner in crime...

Chris Long is the son of hall of famer Howie Long, and there are many similarities between the two. Long was drafted 2nd overall back in 2008, and like Quinn was slow to develop, but compiled a total of 24.5 sacks in 2011 and 2012. This is a guy that has become a player that offenses need to double team come Sunday. He uses a great amount of moves to beat offensive tackles and is a guy that consistently gets to the quarterback. He's having a bit of a slow year, but his 3 sack performance against the top ranked Seahawks changed that around.

The big problem with this duo, and the biggest problem with many duos in the league is that offenses can't seem to block the right guy. When they focus (and double team) Long, Quinn goes and has a monster game. If they focus on Robert Quinn, Long gets pressure on the QB. If they leave them be, well, you get the Seattle game, where BOTH of them had 3 sacks. This is a common problem with the top duos in the league and a problem we saw for years with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. It's just so hard to defend these guys. These two up front are the main reasons why the Rams continue to stay in close games. Their defense is among the better ones in the league and that starts with their pass rush.

Now, we described how good these guys are, but are they the best. Let's compare them to the 3 names we said on top. Let's start with this duo vs the duo of Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. Like the Rams, the Panthers are seeing quite the turnaround on defense, but I'd like to attribute that to the outstanding (and DPOY-like play) of linebacker Luke Kuechly. The secondary is also performing better. On a statistical level, Johnson and Hardy are 4.5 sacks behind the Long/Quinn duo and on tape, it's obvious their impact isn't as big. So, this one goes to Quinn and Long.

As for the duo of Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. This one is going to be quick. Aldon Smith is not playing and Ahmad Brooks is feeling the effects as well. With a healthy Aldon Smith, I still believe that the Long/Quinn duo is better because Smith is really the driving force behind this duo in terms of quarterback pressure. When it comes to Long/Quinn, both are equally dangerous and can do the same amount of damage. You cannot say that about Smith and Brooks, which is why I give the advantage to Long and Quinn even with the combined numbers being similar on paper.

Finally, we get to the one many are discussing, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston vs Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Hali has been a force for years on the Chiefs and although this year is his best to date, he's been putting up these types of numbers without Houston, which is flat out impressive. Justin Houston, who dropped in the draft due to off-the-field concerns, has been a star in the league. He had 10 sacks last year and already has 11 this year. You could say that he and Quinn are very similar, on paper and on the field. Actually, when you watch both closely, they are ridiculously similar. So, you can pretty much scratch that there, which means it comes down to Tamba Hali vs Chris Long.

Both are tremendous players, but Tamba Hali is the more well rounded player who has made more impact plays this year and in season's past. When it comes to pass rushing though, Hali and Long are similar over the past 2 years. Hali has a slight advantage this year, with an extra 3.5 sacks over Chris Long. People currently would rate Houston/Hali over Long/Quinn. However, Long/Quinn are equally as good and could definitely seize the throne. When it comes to impact on the field (who's on the better defense and who's having the better season) Hali and Houston have the edge currently. So the answer to this battle is Hali and Houston, but it is very, very close.

So, Chris Long and Robert Quinn aren't necessarily the best pass rushing duo in the league, but as we found out today, they are damn close to it and could overtake the title soon. Both have tremendous potential and could be perennial all pro's in a few years. The Rams' season may be doomed without Sam Bradford, but with Quinn and Long as well as James Laurinaitis and Janoris Jenkins on defense, this team will be fine. This is a defensive unit to watch very closely going forward, and it starts up front with that 2 headed monster.

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Analyst & Team Writer -- Stampede Blue (www.stampedeblue.com)

Colts Team Writer/ NFL Draft Specialist -- Pro Football Spot (www.profootballspot.com)

Twitter: @AndrewAzizEC




#2 OFFLINE   Seth Keysor

Seth Keysor
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Posted 08 November 2013 - 03:11 PM

I think Quinn is a beast, but I can't say I ncessarily agree that he and Houston cancel each other out.  As pass rushers, yes, but Houston is an exceptionall well rounded player who is also one of the best in the league against the run at his position.


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#3 OFFLINE   Allen Strk

Allen Strk
    • 171 posts

Posted 08 November 2013 - 04:19 PM

Long and Quinn are a joy to watch, I'n not sure if you can label them as the best. Houston-Hali have been a force to be reckon with. The issue with Long is that he isn't as explosive as the other players and doesn't have that quick first step that the rest of them have. He's still a productive player, just doesn't have the athleticism/explosiveness like they do. Injuries may play a part in that. 

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