That damned donut defense everybody forget
That was the scenario that Raheem Morris arrived to find on the LA Rams defense. Staley had already packed his bags and headed across town to the LA Chargers to become their head coach. Both veteran DBs Troy Hill and John Johnson III had tested their value in the NFL Free Agency market, signing with the Cleveland Browns. And the LA Rams were left with a depleted secondary that continued to have a glaring hole in the middle of the defense.
That was a huge problem, and one that Staley had not solved. The Rams defense invested in almost all positions on the defense, with the exception of inside linebacker. The reason? The ILBs on the team were placeholders, merely there to discourage offenses from running the ball too frequently. But offenses began to test the sturdiness of the middle in the Rams defense in 2020, and found is to be quite hollow.
Rams donut defense leads to new Ramsey role
It was the problems created with the lack of solid defense that opened the LA Rams to the possibility of investing more energy and resources into the middle of the defense. The Rams selected rookie ILB Ernest Jones with the 103rd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. But that was not enough. Instead, the Rams reformulated the secondary to task All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey with more direct suppport at the line of scrimmage. He flexed from the Rams shutdown cornerback in 2020, to a defensive back who would defend the slot, support run defense, and try to stop offenses from exploiting the Rams secondary across the middle.
That new role for Jalen Ramsey may have propelled the team to an NFL Championship in 2021, but the toll on Ramsey's reputation has come at a heavy price. Some believe that he has lost a step. Others point to his five touchdowns allowed and now argue that he is not a shutdown cornerback any longer. Others foolishly try to assert that he has never been a shutdown cornerback in his NFL career.