Rams need to play more aggressive pass coverage
The solution for the Rams to get stiffer pass defense is not merely investing in better talent at the defensive back position. Talent is just one factor to a complex and interwoven set of variables that dictate whether a defense does or does not succeed at thwarting an offense on any given play.
The LA Rams must view their pass defense both from a secondary and from applying pressure on the opposing quarterback. The average amount of time for a quarterback to read and fire a pass in the NFL is now approximately 2.7 seconds. With that as the mark, offensive coordinators will time their players and offensive plays to ensure that the offense is prepared to deliver the ball to the intended receiver within that window.
With new defensive coordinator Chris Shula taking over the reins for the team's defense, he already has a punch list of goals for the 2024 NFL season, and they are truly stretch goals. Can the Rams infuse more man-pass coverage? In 2023, the Rams reportedly played zone defense 63 percent of the time. Zone coverage can be effective, but it is amplified when the coverage scheme is disguised, or when the pass rush accelerates the quarterback to hurry his throws.
In 2023, ESPN Analytics tracked the team's pass rush win rate (PRWR) at 42 percent, good enough to be ranked 14th in the NFL. For comparison's sake, the Kansas City Chiefs PRWR was 40 percent, or 20th-ranked in the NFL. So how did the Chiefs show up so stalwart in the Super Bowl? They were simply the better prepared team. They had a well structured plan that disguised coverages and pressures that reacted to the 49ers motions.
With a little investment in new personnel, and a bit of well-though out defensive scheming, the Rams can apply a similar amount of pressure on Brock Purday, and similar pass coverages, to deny the 49ers offense. I am not ready to concede the NFC West Division title to the 49ers just yet. And from what I saw from the Chiefs defense, I am even more confident in the Rams chances in 2024.