Baldy’s breakdowns on LA Rams secondary: “Rams are playing so soft”

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Yes, the LA Rams’ defense is pretty good. Yes, the LA Rams’ defense is way out of practice over the need to come in late for a game and protect a lead, Right now, the Rams’ secondary has been getting an unusual amount of attention over their insistence on playing so soft in coverage. While I am not one who has chimed in on the topic, I can’t ignore the topic when the best NFL Analyst in the business, Brian Baldinger, calls out the Rams secondary for playing so deep at a time when the Rams needed to force the Buccaneers to exhaust the 40+ seconds remaining on the clock.

Here’s his take:

After the Rams offense punted the ball back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from deep in their own territory, the Bucs took over at their own 40-yard line, down by four points, with no timeouts and just 44 seconds on the clock. Defensively, you know that Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady would be throwing. Optimally, Brady’s targets were in: End zone, sidelines, first down, and incompletion, in that order.

The first pass to tight end Cade Otton was mystifying to me. Otton ran past DB Jalen Ramsey as though Ramsey expected help beyond his position at 10 yards deep, but safety Taylor Rapp was playing 40 yards downfield. Otton caught the seam pass for 28 yards, and no defender was closer than 10 yards to him. I’m not sure why Rapp played so deep, but that allowed nearly 30 yards of offense in one play, with minimal time lost.

Bucs receivers step up, Rams DBs step back

Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock at 28 seconds remaining. On the next play, the Rams’ secondary continued to play at a depth of 10 yards.  Brady passed a simple pass to RB Leonard Fournette for a four-yard gain and stopped the clock by running out of bounds. The next play was a 14-yard pass to WR Scotty Miller, who promptly ran the ball out of bounds to stop the clock once more.

The Rams’ defense was now backed up to the 14-yard line, the Buccaneers’ offense had the ball at first down and ten to go, and 19 seconds remaining on the clock. Still, defensively, the Bucs needed to score, so the game was still not decided.

The Rams’ secondary, now defending just 24 yards of the football field, should have tightened up the coverage at this point.  But the defensive backs remained 10 yards off the football and did not defend the sideline particularly well.  Brady threw the ball to Scotty Miller once more, this time for a seven-yard completion before Miller ran out of bounds.  That gave the Buccaneers second down and three to go for a first down with 16 seconds remaining.

The Rams’ defense got no help, but the longest receptions for TE Cade Otton (28 yards) and for WR Scotty Miller (14 yards) came in that last drive.

One defensive pass interference and one touchdown pass later, the Buccaneers claimed the victory.

While the Rams’ defense is not the problem, there are times when the lack of any modification in the defensive scheme based on the situation and score leaves the defense as vanilla as the offense. I love lasagne, but I can’t eat lasagne three times a day for weeks on end. Everything needs a bit of variety.

I love Brian Baldinger’s insight. But let’s face it, this time he’s saying what everyone has already been saying. “The Rams are playing so soft.” With so little margin of error created by the other aspects of the Rams team, that is getting noticed too.

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