Heading into this last week’s game against the high-flying Seattle Seahawks, the LA Rams defense felt like they had so much to prove. Although they rank first in yards per play, second in first downs allowed, and second in total yards; the Rams defense just never gets their respect.
All that was talked about was the high-scoring offenses that we were projected to see. Sitting at 51.5 on the over/under, this game was actually the highest “implied total" of the week. The Rams held up their end of the bargain, scoring 23 points–but most importantly– they controlled the clock for 33 minutes of the football game. This kept Seattle off of the field and gave the defense a chance to rest. They surely used that rest to their advantage, sacking Russell Wilson six times, forcing three turnovers, and holding Seattle to a season-low 13 points.
Any talk that the Rams have yet to beat any good offenses is now put to rest. This defense will be–barring injury– a top-five unit for the rest of the year. That is not in question. What begs to be answered is…how? How did a team with a new defensive coordinator, a new defensive scheme (one that is not easy to learn), and plenty of new starters at every level of the defense become a juggernaut this quickly?
In digging deeper into defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, the most obvious choice to be the “reason" behind the greatness, I learn that he didn"t always like to make Rams fans happy. Staley was actually the mastermind behind the shutdown that the Bears gave to the Rams in 2018. Staley says he doesn"t ever rub it into head coach Sean McVay‘s face, probably because the gameplan Staley used put him on McVay"s radar and earned him the “opportunity of a lifetime“.
Mcvay"s “radar" as we like to call it, has actually brought plenty of quality coaches to LA in his four-year stretch as head coach. Aside from the new defensive coordinator for 2020, the Rams are also breaking in a new offensive and special teams coordinator. You might be starting to get the picture here, this seems like a season that would be lost in the chaos, yet here the Rams are, tied for first place at 6-3.
The spot atop the division comes down to the fact that the Rams have come together extremely quickly, especially on defense. With all-three new coordinators, a rookie free safety, an offensive line that was a huge question mark, and numerous new players brought in to replace franchise cornerstones, this was supposed to be a down year for the Rams. They were projected to only get eight wins and held a 45 percent chance to make the playoffs, now Los Angeles has already won six games and the team is up to a 75 percent chance to make the playoffs.
Talk about beating the odds. While some teams may have a bigger rags-to-riches story, not many of them are doing it with an entirely new set of coordinators. The Rams have had to hear “the talk" all year about how they had not yet beaten a quality opponent–besides the fraudulent Bears. The entire team took that “monkey" off of their back….and a gorilla jumped on. Next Monday night, the Rams are set to travel to Tampa to face Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. The Rams are hoping that a change of scenery can help them release the great ape because nothing else has seemed to work. Brady has not lost to the Rams in over twenty years…
Check out the Rams vs. the Bucs" on Monday, November 23rd at 820 PM/EST at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL.
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