LA Rams DC Brandon Staley can top Wade Phillips 2018 defense
The LA Rams defense is still learning. The 3-4 scheme designed by new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley had two goals. They were to confuse opposing quarterbacks and to unlock the potential of All-Pro defenders Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald. So far, it has by far exceeded expectations on both counts.. How much you ask? Better than their 2018 defense I reply. Let’s look at the number. (Here is your analytics warning. Lots of numbers ahead. You’ve been warned.)
So far the Rams are tied for the most sacks this season as a defensive unit with 20, and defensive lineman Aaron Donald currently on pace for the sack record again. Currently, 9 players on the team have sacks. Breaking it down six are edge rushers (7.5 sacks, 37.5 percent), two are interior lineman (9.5 sacks, 47.7 percent) and one is from linebacker (three sacks, 15 percent). This unit averages four sacks per game and is on pace for 64 sacks. Currently, Donald makes up 37.5 percent of all team sacks, the same as the edge rushers.
Compare this to his 2018 record season. Edge rushers had 12 (27.27 percent) interior lineman had 26 (59.09 percent), linebackers had five (11.36 percent) and finally, the secondary had one (2.27 percent). That year was all Donald who had 50 percent of the team’s production. As a unit, they had 2.5 sacks per game and 41 total sacks on the year.
Just looking at the percentages the pass rush is getting more diverse with a 10 percent increase in production from the edge. As promised, Staley is using Donald more effectively, creating opportunities for the players surrounding him, which in turn helps Donald as the offense focuses on other players as pressure is coming from more than one player.
The new chapter reading well
Whether it’s an improvement in the scheme, a rotation of more young hungry pass rushers that are fresh, or the addition of Jalen Ramsey and the secondary making the quarterback hold onto the ball longer I’m not sure. But either way, it is working and it can be leaned on.
All of this proves that head coach Sean McVay wasn’t crazy at all from moving on from former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. On the contrary, it seems to be a brilliant move to move from a stingy defensive style to a more fluent one.