It is a known fact that the St. Louis Rams have one of the best front seven’s in all of football. With stars like Chris Long, Robert Quinn, James Laurinaitis, and others, the Rams pose a huge threat on that part of their defense.
However, where the Rams struggled last season, and where they didn’t significantly get better in the offseason, is in the secondary. You can have the ability to get to the quarterback, but if you can’t cover the offense’s wide receivers, you just simply aren’t going to have enough time to get to the quarterback.
Last season the Rams allowed opponents 15.1 yards per attempt last season on passes thrown 15 plus yards downfield, that was the worst in the NFL. They were 28th in completion percentage outside the numbers (52.1%),going 86 of 165, both those numbers ranked 29th. They allowed five touchdowns to outside wide receivers, also last.
Part of that was due to the defensive system, or lack thereof, that the Rams secondary was dealing with last season with Tim Walton calling the shots, however, part of it was lack of talent as well.
The Rams were without a legitimate starting safety as T.J. McDonald was injured with a broken leg for much of the season and the Rams just didn’t have another safety therefore it was up to Darian Steward and Rodney McLeod, two players that would be lucky to make any other NFL roster.
McDonald will be back in 2014, the Rams drafted a promising player in Maurice Alexander, but it’s doubtful that he will be able to start right away, and the Rams also drafted another promising versatile player in Lamarcus Joyner who will most likely be playing in the nickel, taking over the spot left empty by Cortland Finnegan.
Although the Rams made some improvements, is it really enough to say the Rams improved enough for those numbers to get that much better? It would be hard to do much worse, and with Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, that won’t happen, or at least it shouldn’t.
However, the Rams are still missing a safety across from T.J. McDonald with some starting ability and it is yet to be known if Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have the ability to be the top two cornerbacks that the Rams can rely on.
Last season, Jenkins and Johnson continuously got torched by the likes of Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, and Golden Tate. Heck, one of Jaguars receiver, Justin Blackmon‘s three career 100 yard games came against the Rams last season.
As mentioned earlier, with Williams calling the shots now, it is unlikely that the Rams’ secondary is as pathetic as it was last season, and pathetic might even be an understatement. However, the secondary still has its fair share of holes and opposing offenses will see that. If it’s one place you can attack the Rams defense it could be through the air, specifically on the deep ball where the Rams lack safety help.
The Rams defense is expected to make the jump into the top ten, if not the top five, and it’s hard to argue that with the seven guys the Rams have crowding the line of scrimmage. However, this defense could still be a year away as this secondary just simply isn’t a top 5, top 10, or top 15 secondary, and very well could be the downfall of the defense.