2023 is truly a make-or-break season for LA Rams DC Raheem Morris

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Raheem Morris
Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Raheem Morris / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Even as the LA Rams gird their loins for a challenging 2023 NFL season, perhaps nobody associated with the LA Rams is under more pressure than LA Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris. This is not my deceptive attempt to weigh in on the challenges that arise from the Rams fan base's polarizing views over the 'Fire Raheem Morris,' debate that will undoubtedly resume at a fever pitch as soon as the 2023 NFL season starts. Rather, this is a step back to examine the wholesale challenges that burden the Rams DC this year.

But this is Raheem Morris's third season as the defensive coordinator for the LA Rams. And the saying 'Third time is the charm,' may not be so applicable for the Morris. You see, it's been a love/hate relationship for Morris ever since he took over the job from former Rams DC Brandon Staley. The LA Rams organization love the guy, while there is a very vocal segment of the Rams fan base that seems to despise him.

But do Rams fans have a point? Is the perception of a 'bad' defense merely a viral reaction that has taken on a life of its own? Or is there an uncomfortable truth to the matter? Well, there is some truth to the fact that the Rams defense has regressed since Morris has taken over.

  • Year Yards Rank Pts Rank Passing Rank Rushing Rank
  • 2020 1st 1st 1st 3rd
  • 2021 17th 15th 22nd 6th
  • 2022 19th 21st 21st 13th

It seems that there is a valid argument to be made on the surface

Raheem Morris: Victim or victor?

And that is despite the team adding "Raheem guys" last season. But this year, the entire defensive scheme is a yolk on the shoulders of a handful of veterans, and the majority of the defensive snaps will be taken by a small army of NFL rookies who are high on energy and experience, but light on wisdom and experience.

Is Raheem Morris the victim or the reason for this sudden clearing of the house? Well, when considering steps taken a year ago, particularly along the lines of releasing all but veteran OLB Leonard Floyd from their edge rusher ranks who had any experience, you cannot easily make the argument for Morris to be a victim. At the least, he has been actively consulted, and at most, was a proponent of the entire wipe the board clean and start over movement.

Morris inherited a defense that boasted All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey, All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and ultimately added All-Pro inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. But even before injuries began to ravage the team, the Rams defense was struggling, albeit not nearly as much as the offense.

It's now or never

Of course, we know that the edict to slash payroll came from a higher authority. But the LA Rams seemed to embrace the shed veterans by mid-season of 2022, and the rapidity of doing so at edge rusher felt a bit more than just fiscal frugality. Are the LA Rams resetting their roster purely from a monetary mindset? Or is there more to this?

Whatever the motivation, one thing is clear. Even in the face of so many young players, I truly cannot see the team sticking with Raheem Morris in 2024 if the defense takes another step backward. Too harsh? I don't think so.

I am not suggesting that the LA Rams defense must end up among the NFL's Top-5 defenses this year. But averaging 20th on defensive rankings is not a great spot to drop from. At some point this season, even a young Rams defense must turn the corner. If not? Then even staunch defenders of Raheem Morris may soften their stance.

dark. Trending. Spoiler alert: Rams trial and error. Spoiler Alert: LA Rams 2023 season will be filled with trial and error

The goal for the LA Rams is to win. While the team may not succeed at doing so this season, regression cannot be acceptable. The LA Rams need to turn the corner, and that includes both the offense and the defense. Now the only question is, can the defense deliver?