Rams success depends on the running game
The LA Rams offense was the root of all the team’s evils when the team had a young quarterback named Jared Goff. Now that he is playing for the Detroit Lions, fans are more than happy to create a new scapegoat out of thin air, and the defensive coordinator replacement for Brandon Staley, who led the LA Rams defense to the top spot of the NFL, was an easy target.
But just so we are on the same page?
The LA Rams pulled their defensive starters off the football field in the fourth quarter of three different games: The New York Giants game (8 points), the Houston Texans game (22 points), and the Jacksonville Jaguars game (0 points). The actions to prevent injury to key defensive players in the late stages of NFL games after the score had already decided the outcome of games, has meant 30 extra points to this defense. Now, let’s factor in the three pick-sixes plus extra points gifted to the Rams opposing teams where the defense never took the football field.
51 points scored without the LA Rams starting defense on the football field?
Normalizing the Rams defense
So far this season, the LA Rams team has allowed a total of 270 points. But if you correct the team’s allowed points by the 51 points where the starting defense never took the football field? Suddenly this defense is running at 219 points or 18.3 points per game. That’s good enough to be the fourth-best defense in the NFL, even when including the horrific disparity of time of possession or taking the field with the opposing offense already in the red zone.
Lost in the assessment of Raheem Morris’ job with this defense is the mess his unit inherits when the LA Rams offense has stepped off the football field. Time of possession and field position are critical elements that have a direct bearing on how well a defense plays.
Per teamrankings.com, the LA Rams are the 28th ranked team in terms of controlling the clock in 2021, possessing the football for just 28:29. In the same category in 2020, the LA Rams were the fifth-ranked team, controlling the football for 31:39 per game, tied with the LA Chargers.