Little Fixable II: Hasty defensive decisions to abandon responsibility
After a winning streak, NFL teams often crash hard. It happens to even the best out there. In 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won three consecutive games to elevate their play to 6-2. They had ‘arrived’ per the NFL national media. But they would meet the New Orleans Saints, who dismantled the Buccaneers rather handily by the finals score of 38-3. Brady threw three interceptions, while Brees threw four touchdowns. Tampa Bays’ rushing attack was good for just eight total yards. The Buccaneers total offensive output in that game? 194 yards.
But nobody was fired. Nobody gave up. The Buccaneers would go on to lose two of the next three games, including one to the LA Rams at home. By the time they arrived at their BYE week, they had fallen to 7-5. We know what happened next. That same trajectory after a disappointing loss is still one possibility for the Rams team.
The Rams can achieve that by investing now for future dividends. The LA Rams young linebackers are taking those inside routes and pursuit angles and getting beaten to the outside. It’s not just one, but several. It’s Kenny Young. It’s Terrell Lewis. It’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. It’s their young OLBs.
Poor pursuit angles make the entire defense look amateurish.
Little Fix II for Week 5: Stay home in your lane
The fix for this? Practice pursuit angles. Practice containing mobile quarterbacks. Set a faster rotation at the OLB or ILB roles until the right player who can pursue correctly, set the edge, and fill the role presents himself. The Rams had a great duo in Justin Hollins and Leonard Floyd, an effective pair that delivered a sensible pass rush while not sacrificing any of the other critical responsibilities off the edge.
The Rams have rookies who have not gotten much work. Outside linebacker Chris Garrett is collecting dust on the shelf. Inside linebacker Ernest Jones is not doing much better. I’ve seen what the other guys are doing. Give the young guys a crash course in basic fundamentals, send them into the game, and then teach them from those NFL plays on how to be that much better the following week.