Despite harsh opinions, LA Rams Jalen Ramsey remains a top NFL DB

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams secondary may not have dominated in the NFL as much as hoped in the 2022 NFL season, but don’t ask for the cause and hope for a logical objective response. Rams fans have plenty of opinions, some solid and based on visual data-driven objective analysis, while others seem to be stuck in a narrative that they cannot part with, like that favorite college tee shirt that has worn through in several spots.

One of those harsh opinions is the perception that the Rams secondary struggled because there is a consensus that LA Rams All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey is no longer effective at defending passes and covering receivers in the NFL.  While there is an argument to be made with the LA Rams group of defensive backs clearly not working together as an effective group, let’s straighten out the record.

Jalen Ramsey is still a pretty darned good defensive back:

So the question is, what went wrong? For that answer, we need to turn to, a website that provides the number of snaps per player per game per team. From there, we can determine that the LA Rams’ defense played a total of 1,010 defense snaps. Ramsey played 1,007 defensive snaps in the secondary.

The next most active member of the Rams secondary was safety Nick Scott, who saw action in 984 defensive snaps. Next up was safety Taylor Rapp, who was on the football field for 910 defensive snaps. Next, Troy Hill at 635 snaps, rookie Derion Kendrick at 483 snaps, David Long Jr. at 281 snaps, and rookie Cobie Durant at 232 snaps. Five other players on the Rams roster saw less action.

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One glaring problem with secondary, but not Ramsey

That information shows two glaring problems. For openers, the LA Rams’ secondary was a kaleidoscope of defensive backs. Much like the Rams’ roster on the offensive line, there were too many moving parts to create the communication and coordination to become and remain an effective unit. The Rams had to reforge a new secondary on almost a weekly basis, and Ramsey was the veteran who fans expected to lead the group.

Unfortunately, as we had witnessed in an on-field altercation with safety Taylor Rapp, younger Rams defenders had their own views of where they needed to play, or simply got lost altogether.  And yet, even as the defense played their defensive backs 10+ yards off the line of scrimmage, those same ineffective DBs were passed right by receivers. In many cases, Ramsey was forced into covering multiple receivers because, quite frankly, his teammate had misread the play and were out of position to make any play.

Safeties offered little help in pass coverage

But perhaps, even moreso, a second obvious and damming for the Rams’ secondary was the decision to line up both Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp as the team’s two starting safeties.  While you can debate which of the two is the better performer, they share the same style and skill sets. Both are hard-hitting safeties. Both are quite comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage, and that may be their best position on the football field. Both struggle to provide pure pass coverage, oftentimes relying on nobody entering their zone to allow them to make a break on the football.

Neither Scott nor Rapp happened to be very effective at pass coverage as a hole. But the Rams migrated to a zone defense this year, a pass defense that is designed to offer help to cornerbacks whose receivers take a deep route to the middle of the football field. Time and again, the Rams’ best cornerback did not get that help, as either Rapp or Scott (or both) remained in their own little worlds, oblivious to what was happening around them. More than one touchdown recorded against Ramsey was a result of safeties simply not being very good.

Ah, the play of John Johnson is sorely missed right now. But let’s not make the same mistake. Jalen Ramsey remains a very good cornerback. He just needs a better and more consistent, group of defensive backs around him.

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