Little Fixable V: Defend the run
The LA Rams are the 22nd ranked defense in the NFL when it comes to run defense. But they haven’t faced offenses that rush well. They’ve faced the 30th-ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushing offense, the 15th-ranked Indianapolis Colts rushing offense, the 9th-ranked Chicago Bears rushing offense, and the 6th-ranked Arizona Cardinals rushing offense. Many of those offenses jumped multiple spots on their ranking after facing the LA Rams defense.
Houston, we have a problem.
The problem is that the LA Rams run a base 3-4 defense, but often supplant the second linebacker for a defensive back. Opposing offenses recognize this tendency, are setting up the Rams to play an extra defensive back, and are running the hell out of the Rams’ defense. Per Lineups.com, of the 287 defensive snaps so far this season, Kenny Young has played 262 snaps (92 percent), Troy Reeder has played 105 snaps (36 percent), and Ernest Jones has played 19 snaps (7 percent). That means that the Rams only have two ILBs on the field for approximately 34 percent of the time or one-third of the plays.
Little Fix V for Week 5: Play two inside linebackers and one who can stop runs
There was a reason that the LA Rams drafted Ernest Jones, and it’s time to give the guy a chance to play. The LA Rams defense is getting gashed by running backs because, quite frankly, their secondary is struggling. Well, Taylor Rapp and David Long Jr. are struggling. So the Rams try to improve the odds by continuing to play slot cornerback David Long Jr. because, well, Taylor Rapp just likes to hit somebody.
If the Rams swapped out Rapp and started Terrell Burgess, there is the defensive back who can cover the slot receiver. Then the Rams can get Ernest Jones on the football field, and let him apply a healthy dose of Thump to those petulant running backs who have gashed the Rams defense so far. It’s just a little fix, true. But this one will pay off very handsomely with a much stouter and stingier defense.