Ball hawking: A new feature to McVay’s defense
The Rams have flirted with more creative uses of All-Pro DB Jalen Ramsey, sometimes with mixed results. But if the secondary added Mathieu? He would have the ‘robber’ role of jumping routes, while the defense could restore Ramsey to shadowing, and neutralizing, the most dangerous receiver on the opposing offense. With Bobby Wagner in the middle, tight ends and running backs will be challenged with curls or crossing routes.
Younger defensive backs would face receivers who they should match more favorably. And with better coverage, the Rams would give their pass rush more time to get to the quarterback. Quarterbacks who have Aaron Donald breathing down their necks tend to make errant throws.
Head coach Sean McVay has never had a ball-hawker on his defense. The high-water mark for interceptions during his five-year tenure with the team has topped off at four interceptions, last held jointly by DBs Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp in the 2021 season.
To find better, you have to go back to 2015, when CB Trumaine Johnson put up seven interceptions. To find better, you will need to travel back to 2007, when CB Oshiomogho Atogwe snatch eight interceptions out of the air.
We’d mentioned how the LA Rams’ return of DC Raheem Morris finally gives this team continuity of defensive scheme and allows the front office to reset the defensive roster according to his blueprint. One such area of improvement is the introduction of ball-hawking defensive backs to the secondary. Mathieu allows the return of Ramsey to defend WR1, improving the play of CB2, causing opposing quarterbacks to delay throwing the ball, which all feeds into improving the pass rush.
The Rams may do nothing. But Tyrann Mathieu makes sense in the Rams’ defense. And if HC Sean McVay wants the player, you know that GM Les Snead will find a way to make it happen.