LA Rams are setting up defense to DC Raheem Morris’s specs this year
To say that the LA Rams set up their 2021 defense to suit newly arrived defensive coordinator Raheem Morris would be a rewrite of history. The truth of the matter is that Morris arrived, assessed the defense, and tried to make it work as best as he could with what he had to work with. Yes, he had some input over who stayed and who didn’t. But those decisions were based on performances through OTAs, Training Camp, and Preseason games. But over who was on the roster, to begin with? Not so much.
He had some say with how the Rams drafted. It was clear that drafting inside linebacker Ernest Jones with the 104th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft had Morris’s fingerprints all over it. Prior to that, the Rams had seldom invested more than a seventh-round pick for the position. Neither DC Wade Phillips nor DC Brandon Staley valued the position much more than as a place to park an extra defensive back.
But Morris values that inside linebacker position. How can I tell? Not only did the Rams spend a valuable draft pick to add Ernest Jones to the position, but this year, the team signed All-Pro inside linebacker Bobby Wagner to reinforce the middle of the Rams defense.
And that only reflects the changes at the inside linebacker position. What about the other roles on the team?
The Rams roster will reflect Morris’s blueprint
It seems pretty clear that Morris wants a physical defense. To do that, he is moving away from the smaller defensive backs and focusing on bringing in a bigger-bodied DB to handle the workload. He already showed his card in last year’s draft when the team drafted a raw but very athletic defensive back Robert Rochell.
The LA Rams roster in terms of defensive depth is sufficient, but I would expect the team to add players at both the outside linebacker and defensive back positions in the 2022 NFL Draft or by signing free agent rookies immediately after the draft. The 2022 Draft class is expected to be both deep and talented in the areas where the LA Rams have needs, so Morris should be able to add the type of player that he believes will best suit his defense.
One of the benefits of having a defensive coordinator for a second consecutive season is the fact that there is no learning curve. Necessary roster changes can take place instantly. Right now, the LA Rams have just three unsigned free agents who play defense: DB Donte Deayon, ILB Troy Reeder, and S/ILB Jake Gervase.
The LA Rams’ defense was enough to win Super Bowl LVI last year. Now, the defense will align even more closely to the type of scheme Raheem Morris wants to run.