Round III: Winners and losers
Winners: Raheem Morris’ defense
The fact is that the LA Rams defense was the best in the NFL. It was a bit of a pleasant surprise, as nobody knew what to expect from the rookie defensive coordinator. But the result of that lofty outcome has left a lot of fans with expectations of a far better defense this season. That makes it difficult to meet those expectations for defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, whose version of this LA Rams defense is better than many think it is.
While the Rams may not perform in exactly the same way as last year’s version of the defense, it is proving to be just as effective so far. In some ways, perhaps even more so. After all, we know that the LA Rams beat up on the very bad NFC East to start the 2020 NFL season at 4-1. In 2021, the Rams have defeated three consecutive 2020 NFL Playoff teams en route to a 3-0 start to the season and did so by holding the highest-scoring offense in 2021 to nearly half of their average points output.
The Rams are doing so by putting defensive back Jalen Ramsey all over the field, and by a constant level of pressure on quarterbacks. This defense is still fine-tuning what it does and how it does it. So far, the results are very impressive, even if you may not like the way the Rams get there.
Losers: Kickoff coverage
So far, the LA Rams have been a mixed bag on special teams. Perhaps the entire special teams’ group hit rock bottom when the team gifted a touchdown to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, turning what should have been an easy win into a come from behind rally led by quarterback Matthew Stafford.
In Week 1, the Rams allowed the Chicago Bears to return four kickoffs for 106 yards. In Week 2, the Indianapolis Colts returned one kickoff 41 yards. In Week 3, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned two kickoffs 48 yards. That’s 195 total yards in just seven returns, an average of 28 yards per return. Since booming one out of the end zone starts the opposing team at the 25-yard line, the Rams definitely have some work to do here.
But there are signs that special teams have in fact turned the corner. The win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a total team effort, so we are optimistic that the Rams will find a way to improve here as well.
All analysis aside, it was nice to witness these Rams putting together a win from all aspects. The team had the jitters early, but everyone settled down and everything settled in for one of the best performances so far. Unlike the Rams’ win in Tampa Bay in 2020, this victory was good, but it feels as though the Rams have more improvement remaining in them.
I loved what I saw from the Rams in Week 3. But I believe their best is yet to come.