It’s certainly one thing to become the top-rated defense in the NFL, but that really does say much about the LA Rams 2020 defense except that they were good. So rather than just repeat that same old complimentary phrasing, let’s try to add a little color between the lines for the Rams that give some understanding of what they did so well to attain and sustain that lofty spot in the NFL.
While the LA Rams offense shrank the field somewhat to help the offense, the defense was doing the very same thing to opposing offenses. As a matter of fact, the LA Rams were the most effective defense against a deep pass in 2020 by a long shot. So let’s break that down a bit further. What were they good at?
Well, here is as good of an opportunity as any for the data analysts at Next Gen Stats to list a few of the ways that the LA Rams were so effective against the deep ball.
Troy Hill (84-yard INT Return TD)
The Rams defense has been among the best in the NFL against deep passes this season:
➤ 10 completions (1st)
➤ 1 TD (1st), 6 INT (T-3rd)
➤ 27.4 passer rating (1st)
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 3, 2021
The Rams smothered opposing defenses with well-disguised coverages that were just effective enough to fool any quarterback who tried to allow a deep route to develop. By the time a receiver made his break, the Rams pass rush had already gotten to the quarterback. As you can see from the results from above, it was a clear win for the Rams.
While the team allowed just 10 deep ball completions, they intercepted 6 deep ball passes. That made it nearly a jump ball in terms of determining who ended up with possession. While the Rams have since lost the services of both veteran defensive backs Troy Hill and John Johnson III, the team should be confident in the talents of Terell Burgess and Taylor Rapp to deliver capable pass coverage this year.
Please Lord keep my dawgs healthy this year 🙏🏾 https://t.co/uEqu6hO5Gl
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) June 13, 2021
Hill’s replacement is not quite apparent just yet on the Rams’ roster just yet. If you recall, Hill was a far more formidable zone defender, and it took some time before the Rams were able to align their coverages to optimize his effectiveness. Of course, over the course of the last five games of the season, Hill put up two pick-sixes against the Arizona Cardinals that helped to seal both victories.
The Rams were able to leverage that stout defense against the deep ball against opponents to force them to walk, not run, down the field. If they are able to show similar prowess against the deep pass in 2021, that will go a long way to re-establishing this defense in the running for a top-ranking in the NFL.