Hammering at the heart of the defense
After Staley took over as head coach of the LA Chargers, the Rams turned the defense over to defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. While Morris was not a universally applauded hire, particularly after taking over for Staley’s top-ranked defense, he knew what he needed to do.
For starters, Morris knew that the NFL offense that faced the LA Rams secondary had schemed Jalen Ramsey out of plays, and so he set about to scheme Ramsey back into plays. His initial efforts were to designate Ramsey as the ‘slot corner’. While that may have worked well on the whiteboard, offenses quickly caught on and set up their offense so that Ramsey was stuck in coverage on a blocking tight end, or the fourth wide receiver option.
So the Rams’ defense was reconfigured once more, this time to allow Ramsey to call his coverage and reset the secondary to handle the rest. But that was not the only adjustment made by the defense.
ILB value appreciates in Morris’s defense
The Rams drafted rookie inside linebacker Ernest Jones to address that donut hole in the middle of the Rams defense. His availability was a bit limited for the Rams. He filled a rotational role for special teams and defense through the first seven weeks of the season. He started Week 8 against the Houston Texans and would start seven of the next eight games before falling to injury in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings.
In his place, the Rams tried various configurations of Troy Reeder, Travin Howard, Taylor Rapp, and even Nick Scott. The objective was to seal off the underneath routes from the opponent’s passing attack, while not surrendering too much in the way of giving up too much to their rushing attack. Ultimately, Jones would return and played one helluva game in Super Bowl LVI.