The price tag to fully assemble the defense line-up of the Los Angeles Rams was hefty, to say the least, and although they managed to clinch a division title, the overall results didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations during the NFL regular season. Then the playoffs happened…
Ndamukong Suh, a once dominant force in the NFL, finally woke up as the Los Angeles Rams managed to shut down Ezekiel Elliott, who was the leading rusher in the NFL, during a divisional-round victory against the Dallas Cowboys.
In the NFC Championship match where the Rams claimed victory against the New Orleans Saints, cornerback Aqib Talib, who was on injured reserve for eight weeks, regained his form and managed to neutralise Michael Thomas who is Draw Brees’ favourite target.
The Defense of the Los Angeles Rams
It took much longer than expected for the Rams defense to jell. However, it’s peaking just in time for the ultimate clash at Super Bowl 53 where the New England Patriots and Tom Brady is waiting in Atlanta on 3 February 2019.
During the offseason, the Los Angeles Rams decided to tag Lamarcus Joyner for a whopping $11.28 million and then decided to trade for Talib and Marcus Peters, who is scheduled to earn $19 million and $11 million, respectively, over the next two seasons.
With Aaron Donald, the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL, it seemed highly unlikely that the Los Angeles Rams would participate in the free-agency frenzy when it came to Ndamukong Suh. However, to our surprise, they did and they managed to sign the defensive tackler for a $14 million deal for one year. Thereafter, the Rams made Aaron Donald the highest-paid player in history in terms of a defensive player, signing him to a 6-year extension that is worth a staggering $135 million where $87 million is guaranteed.
Aaron Donald’s payday definitely paid off as he managed to accumulate 20.56 sacks even though he faced an excessive number of double-teams. However, throughout the regular season, with a 13-3 record, the defense frequently appeared imperfect, with the exception of making stops late during the fourth quarter in wins over the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Minnesota Vikings.
Talib was missed while he was on injured reserve as Peters struggled to successfully break up incredible plays. The defensive line, featuring three first-round picks in Michael Brockers, Donald, and Suh failed to constantly slow the run and managed to give up 5.1 yards per carry which is a league-worst.
Once the defense of the Rams started to jell, they held the Saints and the Cowboys to 49 rushing yards on average and managed to drop the yards per carry from an awful 5.1 to a much more appealing 2.3.
If the Los Angeles Rams can provide the same defensive strategy they utilized during the playoffs, there’s a real chance that they can be victorious at Super Bowl 53 when they play against the New England Patriots.