LA Rams Defense: Comparing the 2018 vs 2020 Week 10 versions

(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images) /

LA Rams Defense: Comparing 2018 vs 2020 Week 10 versions

The LA Rams defense is on a tear. Currently, they are arguably the number one rated defense in the NFL. They’re also a bigger component for the Rams’ success this season than the offense. Imagine that being possible on Rams’ head coach Sean McVay’s team.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the defense’s performance, measured by a few key statistics, allowed a projection of this defense with some certainty. Well, this is going over the same stuff, only with updated numbers for a better projection.  Next, I  am comparing the current defense under defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to the former defense under former DC Wade Phillips defense that went to the Super Bowl in 2018.

Projected projections

The projected numbers after ten weeks, while still not as high as week five projections here (also included here are the former projections from week five), are still higher than their 2018 by a huge amount.

The interesting thing about the Rams defense now is more pressure is coming off the edge compared to earlier this year than a couple of weeks ago. Sacks from the edge rushers went up from 37.5 percent to 51.56 percent of the total,  almost doubling the effect they’ve had on the year. It’s also almost doubling the percent from the Phillips defense in 2018 that had 27.27 percent of team sacks.

That’s one of the main key differences in the team’s increased production on defense. It’s not as dependent on the interior pass rush, more specifically Aaron Donald who had 50 percent of all team sacks in 2018.

Life on the edge

Instead, the interior pass rush has receded,  setting the pass rush from the edge for team success rather than just one player. Right now, the interior defensive line has 39.04 percent of the total sacks, compared to 59.09  percent in 2018 (Donald was 50 percent of all team sacks that year).

Interior linebacker sack production is still limited to ILB  Troy Reeder who had a massive three-sack game and no other sacks since then for 9.36 percent of team sacks which is only two behind what Phillips had in 2018.

While the Rams quarterback sack rate dipped from four sacks a game from week five to 3.2 sacks by week 10, it’s still higher than their 2018 totals of 2.5 quarterback sacks per game.

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Of course, by focusing exclusively on quarterback sacks in this article, I have not touched on turnovers – either interceptions or fumbles – which will deserve their own breakdown in the future. Those are areas that Phillips’ defense was really good at. but that another article for another day.