III: This isn’t Staley’s defense any longer
The memory of Brandon Staley’s defense was destined to be better than that defense was. The LA Rams took time to get proficient at what their 2020 defensive would become. A year ago, the LA Rams had a strong running game and were able to use that time-of-possession offense to leverage an aggressive defense. This year, the offense won’t be winning many clock battles.
The Rams will need to re-think how their defense needs to stop opponents. So far, it appears that they’ve guessed correctly. If last night is the season’s template, this will be a bend but not break kind of defensive effort. The defense created two turnovers in the game, the first one was an interception that effectively was a 14 point play. The pick stopped the Bears dead in their tracks with a first-down and goal-to-go on the three-yard line. The turnover set the ball at the Rams 25 yard line, where they were able to score in just over one minute.
The Rams offense from 2020 was ideal for the way that the team ran the defense. This year, it’s the defense that appears to be a good complement to the offense. A ball-hawking style of defense that creates turnovers gets the ball back to a high-powered offense, then sits back and lets the bombs fly all over the field.
The Rams defense is clearly designed to shut down offenses that attempt to get into shootouts. Since the defense looks to be on the field much more, I like the way this new mindset paces the defense. Will this bend but not break defensive strategy work with higher-powered offenses? We’ll find out.