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Scheme, blitzing and personnel: How the Rams’ defense might change next season

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  • MauiRam
    Can the Rams defense contain the Carolina Panthers?
    by MauiRam
    J.B. Long
    VOICE OF THE L.A. RAMS


    There’s so much to discuss about the opener at Carolina and the season ahead, we’re going to break this into two parts.


    Later this week, some perspective on Sean McVay and what’s ahead for the offense.
    But first, let’s dive into defense and special teams.

    Can this Defense Dominate?

    The Rams 2018 defense was clutch; it was opportunistic; quite frankly, it was championship-worthy. After all, the defense delivered an NFC title and its best performance of the year came in the Super Bowl.

    Relative to expectations, however, it’s also fair to say the defense underachieved. The 2018 Rams were average statistically. And that was despite an historic season from the two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    What if they delivered on their promise now? What if – in conjunction with one of the top scoring offenses in football – the Rams defense imposed its collective will on the opposition?

    Aaron Donald believes they can.

    “Hundred percent,” he told me recently. “I feel like we’re in a position to be even better.”

    Face of the Franchise Tag

    For that to be the case, you get the sense Dante Fowler and Marcus Peters have to have extension-worthy seasons. Both are former first-round talents, entering their fifth seasons, playing positions that command massive contracts, and the Rams traded draft capital to acquire their services.

    It would be a wonderful financial dilemma for L.A. to contend with in 2020, if Fowler and Peters are each coming off career years as they approach the open market. There’s reason to think that could happen.

    Peters improved dramatically as 2018 wore on, as he did not allow a score after that first trip to New Orleans in Week 9, and per PFF, didn’t even surrender a deep completion in the second half of last season.

    Once Fowler settled into Los Angeles, he made some of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl run, including a thunderous tackle of Ezekiel Elliott and the overtime hit on Drew Brees.

    Wanted: Veteran Help

    Sunday will be our first look at a revamped Rams defense, featuring two players with a dozen Pro Bowl honors between them. Yet the teams that knew them best, didn’t want them anymore.

    Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Sean McVay saw Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews in person last season (Weddle for two joint sessions with the Ravens; Matthews in Week 8 with the Packers). He and L.A. didwant these veterans, believing strongly that there’s something left in their tanks – and a wealth of knowledge between their ears – that can benefit the 2019 Rams.

    Last Hurrah?

    The Rams can only hope that Weddle and Matthews have the impact that Andrew Whitworth and Aqib Talib have had.

    I know this is supposed to be a defensive piece, but allow me to lump...
    -09-06-2019, 11:47 AM
  • MauiRam
    One big reason why Wade Phillips could help make Rams contenders
    by MauiRam
    One big reason why Wade Phillips could help make Rams contenders

    Eric Edholm

    Ever since Wade Phillips took over the defense of the Denver Broncos back in 1989, he has improved every new unit he has been involved with the following season — in most cases by leaps and bounds. Seven different times Phillips has come in over the past 27 NFL seasons and made a clear, unmistakable impact running the defense in his first year with a new team.

    Talk about one of the best hired guns in NFL history. Who can boast such a mark?

    Phillips took over an aging Broncos defense that year, one that allowed 341.9 yards and 22 points per game the year prior. After his first season as coordinator, the Broncos had made massive improvements — and with only one major defensive addition, with rookie Steve Atwater — to 275.4 and 13, respectively.

    Now in 2017, Phillips is the new defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, and his mission is to repeat his brilliant history. A few weeks prior to his 70th birthday, he remains at the top of his game. He also has maintained his wonderfully dry sense of humor and is enjoying the successful release of his new book, “Son of Bum,” and having some fun with it.
    If you don’t appreciate Phillips on some level, you might want to ask yourself why. He’s a funny guy and a heck of a defensive coach. Phillips also could have a lot more fun in 2017.

    This season he’ll be running a Rams defense that has the reputation of being one of the league’s best, but it was one that underachieved last season under Gregg Williams. It allowed 337 yards and 24.6 points per game, which didn’t help an overmatched offense in what ended up a 4-12 season — one that started out with a 3-1 mark. The talent is there, but the results were not.

    Can Phillips make that much of a difference, serving under a first-year head coach (and a 31-year-old at that) in Sean McVay? We shall see. But Phillips’ history suggests that the Rams can expect immediate statistical improvements, including one crucial stat that could lead directly to more wins.

    Over those past seven first seasons running a team’s defense, which included his 2007 stint as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach, Phillips has shaved off an average of 35 yards allowed and 5.1 points scored. Those are fine results indeed, especially the points. But the biggest difference in his teams’ defensive turnarounds? Turnovers.

    Only once since 1989 has a Phillips-run defense created fewer turnovers than the unit he inherited the season before. Four times his teams made major improvements — the ’89 Broncos improved by 16 turnovers created (from 26 to 42); the 2002 Atlanta Falcons improved by nine (30 to 39); the 2004 San Diego Chargers by 13 (20 to 33); and the 2011 Houston Texans by nine (18 to 27).

    In most cases, the defenses Phillips helped improve only added one major player, such as Atwater to...
    -06-06-2017, 10:58 AM
  • MauiRam
    Allen And Noteboom Could Make Or Break Rams In 2019 ..
    by MauiRam
    Allen And Noteboom Could Make Or Break Rams In 2019
    Ian Van Roy

    Offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of football. They don’t get flashy stats like touchdowns, yards, or interceptions but, nevertheless, teams depend on them to protect their quarterbacks and open lanes for runners. Without linemen, there is no offense. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Rams are placing high expectations on newbie starters, Center Brian Allen and Left Guard Joseph Noteboom, this year.

    The Rams will need them to establish themselves as competent players very early in the season if the Rams are to repeat the dominance of 2018. This is because the offense will be leaned on more to win games, the emergence of depth issues on the offensive line, and finally how much Sean McVay’s scheme leans on the offensive line. Put simply, Allen and Noteboom could make or break this team in 2019.

    Offensive Supremacy
    Los Angeles’ offense will be more important in 2019 than ever before in the McVay era due to the expectation that the defense will continue to erode in 2019. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ history and issues with the roster point to this outcome.

    Phillips’ modern history shows a yearly decline in effectiveness once he starts with a team. Since 2011, Phillips has been the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and now Los Angeles Rams. In each stint, the first year has been his best with every other year being worse than the previous. In other words, Phillips has not been able to bring his defenses to be better than they were the previous year in each of his most recent three teams, including the Rams.

    In 2017, the Rams defense was ranked 19th in yards and 12th in points allowed. Last year, the Rams slipped to 19th in yards and 20th in points allowed. If the trend continues as the evidence suggests, the Rams defense will be in for a tough 2019 season.

    Putting analytics aside, the defensive roster is arguably worse in 2019 than in 2018. For instance, leading cornerback Aqib Talib will be one year older, playing at 33 years old. Of course, Talib hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down in his old age when on the field but his body is starting to break down. Last year, he missed eight games. Once injuries start appearing for older players in the NFL, they tend to snowball so there is a solid chance that Talib could miss more time in 2019, leaving the Rams without a number-one cornerback and sliding everyone else up a spot.

    Additionally, the Rams have lost defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh’s replacement will likely be rookie Greg Gaines, who is probably going to be a downgrade this year as he gets his initial bearings.

    Also, safety Lamarcus Joyner has been replaced by Eric Weddle. While Weddle seems like a good replacement based on name alone, it should not be discounted that he is getting older at 34 years old and will be 35 before...
    -07-14-2019, 02:18 PM
  • RamDez
    Can the Rams defense contain the Carolina Panthers? 
    by RamDez
    Can the Rams defense contain the Carolina Panthers?
    J.B. Long
    VOICE OF THE L.A. RAMS

    There’s so much to discuss the opener at Carolina and the season ahead, we’re going to break this into two parts.
    Later this week, some perspective on Sean McVay and what’s ahead for the offense.

    But first, let’s dive into defense and special teams.

    Can this Defense Dominate?

    The Rams 2018 defense was clutch; it was opportunistic; quite frankly, it was championship-worthy. After all, the defense delivered an NFC title and its best performance of the year came in the Super Bowl.
    Relative to expectations, however, it’s also fair to say the defense underachieved.
    The 2018 Rams were average statistically. And that was despite a historic season from the two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
    What if they delivered on their promise now? What if – in conjunction with one of the top-scoring offenses in football – the Rams defense imposed its collective will on the opposition?
    Aaron Donald believes they can.
    “Hundred percent,” he told me recently. “I feel like we’re in a position to be even better.”

    Linebacker (54) Bryce Hager of the Los Angeles Rams practices Wednesday, September 4, 2019, in Thousand Oaks, CA. (Jeff Lewis/Rams)
    The face of the Franchise Tag
    For that to be the case, you get the sense Dante Fowler and Marcus Peters have to have extension-worthy seasons. Both are former first-round talents, entering their fifth seasons, playing positions that command massive contracts, and the Rams traded draft capital to acquire their services.
    It would be a wonderful financial dilemma for L.A. to contend within 2020 if Fowler and Peters are each coming off career years as they approach the open market. There’s a reason to think that could happen.
    Peters improved dramatically as 2018 wore on, as he did not allow a score after that first trip to New Orleans in Week 9, and per PFF, didn’t even surrender a deep completion in the second half of last season.
    Once Fowler settled into Los Angeles, he made some of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl run, including a thunderous tackle of Ezekiel Elliott and the overtime hit on Drew Brees.
    Wanted: Veteran Help
    Sunday will be our first look at a revamped Rams defense, featuring two players with a dozen Pro Bowl honors between them. Yet the teams that knew them best, didn’t want them anymore.
    Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Sean McVay saw Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews in person last season (Weddle for two joint sessions with the Ravens; Matthews in Week 8 with the Packers). He and L.A. did want these veterans, believing strongly that there’s something left in their tanks – and a wealth of knowledge between their ears – that can benefit the 2019 Rams.

    Last Hurrah?
    The Rams can only hope that Weddle and Matthews have the impact that Andrew Whitworth...
    -09-07-2019, 06:28 AM
  • MauiRam
    An interesting look at the core tenets of Wade Phillips' defense
    by MauiRam
    Gregg Williams is gone, and a new sheriff is in town. It will be very interesting to see how Wade uses the personnel he inherits as the Rams new DC.


    By NICK GROKE The Denver Post
    PUBLISHED: August 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm | UPDATED: August 21, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    It is the Broncos’ “Bear” call. Sylvester Williams, a hulking, 313-pound nose tackle, the largest player on Denver’s defensive line, a guy who gets paid to get in the way, drops into pass coverage.

    “That ain’t normal,” Williams said. “But that’s one of my favorite plays.”

    His job on this play is to keep a running back from catching the ball. No defense ever asks a nose tackle to play like a cornerback. The Broncos are not like everyone else.

    “We’re different — a lot different,” he said.

    When the Denver defense lines up next month to open the season in a rematch against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers, it will be trying to duplicate one of the most impressive playoff showings of all time, capped by a brilliant Super Bowl. In that game, Denver sacked Newton six times, intercepted one of his passes, scored a touchdown and nearly scored another. It put that defense in a discussion among the great defenses of the past 30 years.

    But the league does not quite know what it sees in the Denver D. The Broncos are an outlier in the staid NFL. They confuse fans and hardcore insiders. With defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, a football lifer who learned from his dad, Bum, the Broncos are conservative radicals, a stick-to-basics defense that bucks the trend of complicated schemes in favor of beautiful simplicity.

    The best defense in the NFL plays in plain sight. And nobody can pin it down.

    “They say they know what we’re going to do,” Phillips said, “but can they stop us?”

    JUST GO PLAY

    To borrow a board game tagline, the Broncos’ defense takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. Bum Phillips upset the defensive order in the 1950s when he was coaching small town high school football in East Texas. He developed a way to number defensive lineman to make it easy for kids to know their roles. And he introduced a 3-4 defense — three linemen up front, four linebackers in the middle. His ideas trickled up the ladder.

    Paul “Bear” Bryant borrowed Bum’s ideas at Texas A&M in the late ’50s. The NFL, with many teams still using five-man fronts built to stop the run and ignore the pass, soon followed. And the 3-4 defense began to take hold.

    Wade Phillips, who also came up through the Texas high school ranks, spun the 3-4 even further. He recognized that the 3-4 can be the most adaptable defense in football. It’s built to let players do what they can do best. If a linebacker is good at coverage, let him cover. If a cornerback can rush the passer, cut him loose. And if a 313-pound nose tackle is quick enough to chase a...
    -03-19-2017, 01:17 PM
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