LA Rams defense worth more than individual player stats

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams Defense Brandon Staley
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

To whose credit?

So who do we have to give credit to? This is a dominating defense, and surely somebody is playing well. Of course, the obvious answer is to check individual statistics.  But the flaws in those types of measurements simply are the inability to measure the performance of each player on the defense for doing what he was responsible to do.

The Rams run a unique blend of the 3-4 defense, where the coverage scheme is part of the strength of this defense. In short, the defense is effective because the opponents continue to guess at coverage and tactics.  And it’s that advantage that shifts the responsibility and credit of this defense to executing the responsibilities in this defense, not just racking up tackles, sacks, and interceptions.

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Beware counting stats alone

The goal of the defense is to stymie, thwart, and deny the opposing offense from scoring, and from advancing a football. Covering receivers results in that quarterback throwing the ball away. Who gets credit for that play? If a linebacker takes on two blockers to allow a defensive back a free path to tackle a ball carrier, who gets credit on that play?

The Rams defense oftentimes bends in the early stages of the football game. But this is a very smart defense as well. The players and coaches are learning as the game progresses. Each play gives the Rams a better idea of how to defend on the next snap. As a game progresses, the defense seems to have a better handle of what the offense is trying to do, and where they are trying to go with the football.  But it comes back to players playing within the system.