Time For The St. Louis Rams To Bench Rodney McLeod


The St. Louis Rams defense arguably has the talent to become one of the best defenses in the league, however, in the last few seasons they have continued to rank as an average unit and failed to show much improvement. For the Rams defense it is one position that continuously lets them down, and that is the safety position. Until the Rams can figure out that problem, they will continue to be an average defense.

Where the problem lies is with safety Rodney McLeod. He is a good special teams player, but he absolutely should not be a starting NFL safety. He is good for some depth and could be a good backup safety, but in no way should he start. You could argue that the Rams have lost at least two games because of McLeod’s mishaps and limitations.

Week in and week out he blows coverage assignments and far too often does he get beat over the top. Starting with last week against the Arizona Cardinals. In the end it is quarterback Austin Davis who will get the blame for the Cardinals loss, but it all started with McLeod.

The Rams safety took a poor angle around the 15-yard line while jumping Brown’s route. Had he continued to keep depth, he would have had an opportunity to make a play on the ball. Instead, Brown gets past him and makes an incredible diving catch for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 17-14 lead.

You obviously can’t forget the blown coverage in the Dallas Cowboys game in which McLeod blew a coverage assignment which lead to a Dez Bryant score and put the Cowboys right back in the game. This is just one of many blown assignments by McLeod. How many more chances can one guy get?

The St. Louis Rams traded for safety Mark Barron just two weeks ago and although he is still learning the system either he or McDonald would be a better option at free safety than McLeod. Barron and McDonald play better closer to the line of scrimmage and are almost mirror images of each other having limitations in coverage, however, either would be a better option than McLeod at this point.

Tampa Bay parted with Barron in part because they  preferred to use him as a coverage safety. With the Buccaneers, Barron lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage on only a quarter of his snaps and was left to roam the back end, Barron was often left in coverage, where he has had his share of ups and downs during his career.

Although Barron prefers and plays better near the line of scrimmage, at least for the time being, it might be worth to play Barron where he at least has some experience and take over for the struggling McLeod. Since 2012 Barron is third among safeties in pass breakups with 17.

McDonald on the other hand has spent half of his snaps within eight yards of the line of scrimmage, which is double Barron’s percentage and on the rare occasions McDonald has been put in coverage it hasn’t worked out too well.

The Rams have a problem at safety and to be frank, it is holding the defense back. They have a solid front four, a decent linebacking corps, and have young, but talented cornerbacks. If the Rams could get a safety that could hold his own, it would take this group to another level.

Most likely they won’t be able to address this issue fully until the draft. For the remainder of the season however, the Rams need to see what they have at the position and see what McDonald or Barron can do at the free safety spot. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead traded for Barron,  they have a talented safety in McDonald, and McLeod certainly is not the answer.