Younger players are struggling in 2021
David Long Jr. had taken over for Troy Hill, and he’s been a pale shade of the quality of pass defense that Hill had given the Rams. He had since been benched to give rookie Robert Rochell a chance to play. While Rochell clearly made a rookie gaffe or two, he got better as the Week 5 game went on.
The bigger problem is the inability of safety Taylor Rapp to provide more than a semblance of pass defense. He’s more about the ‘big hit’ than the pass break up, and it shows. Unfortunately, his biggest hit of the season was upon teammate Darious Williams, a hit that knocked Williams out of the game. The point being that Rapp is best served as that DB/LB hybrid who plays near the line of scrimmage on passing downs.
Do the Rams have a Rapp replacement? They had a neck and neck competition in training camp between Terrell Burgess and Rapp in training camp. Just as the team gave Rochell a chance to prove his ability to defend the pass, the Rams need to give Burgess a look.
Taylor Rapp is one of the Rams’ worst starters per Pro Football Focus, with a 2021 grade of 53.7. That confirms what I have been seeing out of him so far when he is supposed to provide coverage. If you disagree that Burgess has potential, then the Rams need another safety placed on the football field. Nick Scott seemed pretty handy in picking off that pass from Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Geno Smith to seal the win in Week 5. He could be the answer.
Even 2020 standout Jordan Fuller, who has gone from rookie sensation, is suddenly the guy calling the defenses and he is struggling so far in 2021 as well. So far this year, he’s been just slightly better than Rapp, with a PFF grade of 58.5.