When the LA Rams opted to trade All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins, there were a number of factors compelling the Rams in that direction. The Rams were no longer a playoff team, by their own assessment. Jalen Ramsey remained an elite defensive back, but the Rams secondary was not as effective as a unit in recent year. Finally, the Rams wanted to give Ramsey a chance to compete with a true NFL contender.
So the LA Rams pass defense, a unit that came in as the 12th-ranked pass defense in 2022, allowing 3,842 yards (226.0 yards per game), 23 touchdowns (1.35 TD/game), and causing 16 interceptions, deliberately embraced a youth movement that would compel the Rams to start young players who had little NFL experience.
Did the Rams' secondary suddenly struggle in 2023? Well, not exactly. While the Rams' pass defense is not creating turnovers at nearly the same rate as in 2022, the Rams allow fewer yards per game than in 2022 (217.9 yards per game) and touchdowns per game (1.0 TD/game) than one year ago.
In many ways, you can thank the chemistry of the Rams DBs this season. The Rams are getting plenty of oomph out of safeties Jordan Fuller and Russ Yeast, reinforced by John Johnson III and Quentin Lake. At cornerback, the Rams have ridden the trio of Ahkello Witherspoon, Derion Kendrick, and Cobie Durant.
Communication, Continuity, and Experience
So what has improved with this Rams secondary? How have the Rams gotten younger, and yet in many ways, better than a year ago? Well, let's start with the fact that the Rams defensive backs are relatively healthy this season. Healthy DBs mean better continuity. For NFL secondaries and offensive lines, continuity helps to supercharge the groups ability to play harmoniously.
The other factor in all of this is the fact that the LA Rams secondary, a group of defensive backs who had next to no experience playing together in the same secondary, are getting more and more experience playing alongside one another with each game in 2023. Has it helped? You tell me:
Okay, so the LA Rams have held up well versus Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and Seahawks QB Geno Smith. But how has the Rams defense fared in terms of points allowed?
The Rams defense had allowed an average of 22.6 points per game in 2022. So far in 2023, the Rams have improved that ever so slightly to 21.3 points per game. But it's clear that the Rams defense is getting stronger with each game.
While I am not suggesting smooth sailing from the group for the final six games, I believe that the Rams get stronger with each game. That bodes well for a team that is currently 5-6, but still very much in the playoff hunt.
The pieces are beginning to fall into place for the Rams pass defense at just the right time. Will the Rams ride a wave of success into the NFL Playoffs? Don't start doubting them now. The magic show is about to start.