By the end of 2020, Brandon Staley was hired to take over for the LA Charges as their new head coach. That vacancy was filled by Raheem Morris. Morris has years of NFL defensive experience and vowed to retain much of what worked for Staley while making a few of his own modifications.
Lo and behold, what we find is that this defense under Raheem Morris is shaping up to have similar characteristics as that of Wade Phillips’ first defense with the Rams.
Year Rank (Yds) Rank (Pts) TOP rank
2021 24th 13th 23rd
There are two reasons to explain this similarity. In both cases, the Rams players were subject to a new defense from a new coordinator. That not only means that players had to learn a new system, but that the coordinator had to learn everything about his players through the painstaking process of trial and error.
It also reflects the fact that the Rams offense has taken on a new playbook, and has focused upon establishing the ability to score quickly. As a result, the team has taken their eye off the ball in terms of how that TOP impacts the defense in a negative fashion.
Forget your bias and lofty expectations. For now, the Rams defense will have good games and bad games as the coaching staff tweak the roster and the strategy until everything is running quite smoothly.
It’s not how the Rams begin the season, but rather how the team ends the season, that will determine just how successful this year was. Based on this quick and dirty case study, the Rams are not as much of an outlier as many believe them to be right now. As the team starts to infuse such young talented players as Robert Rochell, Terrell Burgess, Ernest Jones, and more into the rotation, the defense will show improvement and progress.
Patience is in order now. The Rams proved once before that a top-scoring offense and a top-performing special teams unit can get them to the Super Bowl. Now all the Rams need to do is tighten up on defense. And there is time to do so. The Rams have 12 more games to play and only need eight more victories.
I still like the Rams’ chances.