* Defensive line/LB: The middle of the line shone for the Rams early as they forced several 123-kicks out of the Patriots. Gary Gibson has firmly supplanted Cliff Ryan as a starter, probably because he barges into the backfield just about every play. I wanted the Rams to get Fred Robbins for his pass rush push, which he seems to show off every week. He landed Brady for a sack in the first, though Chris Long really set it up by knocking Sebastian Vollmer back on his pins with an impressive punch (more MMA?), then crawling after Brady like he was storming Normandy Beach or something. Tackling was better this week (so was the weather). James Laurinaitis knifed in to make a couple of good run stops. Na’il Diggs saved the day by diving and tripping Sammy Morris for 2 on a play that could have been much, much bigger. Morris was running right; the Patriots had successfully driven most of the Ram defense to the left. LB play, though, has tapered way off. Laurinaitis is showing more holes in his game than I’d reckoned on, and Larry Grant seems to have had a complete loss of momentum. See also below. The LB corps isn’t playing at the level we thought it would be. Pass rush was a significant problem tonight. Most of Brady’s throws were in scrimmage-like conditions. Several things led to that. 1 – Brady gets the ball out really quick. 2 – The Patriots don’t give up many sacks anyway (18 last year). 3 – Vollmer seemed to prove too big for Long. 4 – Even worse, Long would get double-teamed because C.J. Ah You gave little to worry about from the other side. James Hall and George Selvie were both out injured, and the Rams need them back soon. Eugene Sims did “flash,” though. He pressured Brady into dumping off, and also showed Selvie-like speed in tracking down WR Sam Aiken from behind on one play. Looking at the number of 3-and-outs and the 28 rushing yards allowed, it’s still been a successful preseason for the Rams front seven.