The LA Rams criteria for newly-hired DC Raheem Morris was not a blank check. The Rams, boasting the 2020 regular season's top-ranked defense, did not want to surrender so many hard-fought gains on the defensive side of the football. And so, Morris was shackled to preserving as many of former DC Brandon Staley's concepts as possible.
Those initial rules that acted like a 18-wheel truck's governor, held Morris back from making wholesale sweeping changes to the defense that he had inherited. Still, he was experienced enough to know that changes were necessary to fix what had become an exploited flaw in the Rams defense.
Under Staley, the Rams outright ignored the interior linebacker positions. The Rams were content to pit undrafted or late Day 3 drafted players to sit in the cockpit of the defense. It took some time, but the winless New York Jets were able to assess and exploit that vulnerability. That same weakness would prove to be fatal as the Green Bay Packers attacked the heart of the Rams defense relentlessly with runs and short passes.
In 2021, the LA Rams drafted ILB Ernest Jones to plug the glaring hole in the Rams defense.
When the Rams had an opportunity to sign All-Pro ILB Bobby Wagner, the Rams did not have an obvious need for the veteran thumper. So, Morris concocted a defense that would allow the Rams to use the venerable Wagner as a primary blitzer. Wagner has played for 12 seasons in the NFL. But his 6.0 quarterback sacks in the one season with the LA Rams is a career high mark. Even as he blitzed and generated so much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he still found a way to generate 140 tackles, two interceptions, and five pass deflections.
With Raheem Morris, the Rams were never at a loss for how to optimize a player. Rather than expose his players to unnecessary vulnerabilities, he attempted to compensate to optimize their impacts. That often get lost on fans, unfortunately.