Starting with the base zone defense
Because the NFL has become such a heavy-pass league, most defenses have adjusted to this by switching their base defense to a nickel formation, where there are five defensive backs on the field at the same time. This has increased the value of a “rover safety,” or a smaller and faster linebacker who has the capability to drop into coverage if need be.
Fortunately, for the Rams, they found their starting rover safety in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, that player being Jordan Fuller. That’s why he has been so important so far this season on this defense.
The Rams have one of the best cornerbacks in the game, being the shutdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He’s been so good in the league that he’s been avoided by almost every team he has played against and been forced to find other ways to impact the game. He’s become a good boundary run defender and tackler in the meantime.
King of the Hill
Troy Hill usually plays on the opposite end of Ramsey, although he has found an important role in the slot, and Darius Williams has found a large role on the field as a cornerback/safety hybrid. John Johnson has played almost every snap this season as the deep end safety. Taylor Rapp, the twitter darling, has seen a minimal snap count this year.
It’s a strict zone defense, Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley spent the previous three seasons in Chicago as the outside linebackers coach. He comes from the Vic Fangio line of thinking – lots of zone coverage and confusion. We’ll get into that here in a little bit.