In a year where the Rams are 8-1 it is hard to find many negative aspects of the team. However, the poor play of Marcus Peters has been one that stands out.
Peters was acquired in the offseason from the Chiefs in a trade that involved the Rams giving up a 2018 4th round pick and a 2019 2nd round pick (Rams also acquired a 2018 6th round pick in the deal). Rams fans everywhere were very excited after the deal and had high hopes that Peters could be the shutdown corner they have been searching for.
Coming into the 2018 season, Peters had 19 interceptions, 55 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, and 151 tackles through three years in the league. He was a two time pro bowler and first team all pro in 2016. Peters was a big play cornerback who lead the league in interception return yards in both the 2015 and 2017 seasons. He was considered by many to be one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL.
In his Rams debut, Peters did not disappoint. He allowed only 3 receptions and 25 yards on 6 targets and had a pick 6 late in the 4th quarter that secured the win for the Rams over the Raiders. The following two weeks, Peters played well allowing only 3 receptions for 69 yards. Through three weeks Peters had only allowed 6 receptions on 11 targets (54.4% catch rate) for 94 yards. He appeared to be the shutdown corner that the Rams traded for but then everything changed.
In week 3 against the Chargers, cornerback Aqib Talib left the game with an ankle injury. He was placed on IR later on in the season and has yet to return. It is worth noting that Peters also left this game with a calf strain but his injury did not keep him out of any further weeks. Ever since Talib has been out of the lineup, Peters has not looked the same.
In the 6 games Talib has not played in, Peters has allowed 33 receptions on 42 targets (78.6% catch rate) for 562 yards. He has zero interceptions in these contests and has given up 5 touchdowns. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that these are not the type of numbers you want from your “shutdown cornerback.” This past Sunday was Peters worst game to date as he gave up 12 receptions and 211 yards to Saints star wide receiver, Michael Thomas. Peters was also caught out of position late in the 4th quarter as Thomas burned him for a 72 yard touchdown to give the Saints a 45-35 lead.
Going forward, the Rams need a lot more from Peters. The Rams traded for him to be their shutdown corner for the foreseeable future and he has disappointed. Peters, who has always been outspoken, acknowledged his poor play by saying in a post-game interview. “I can play better. I’ve been playing s****y these past couple weeks and that’s just being honest.” He put the blame squarely on himself and never once used his early season injury as a crutch to his poor performance.
I give Marcus Peters a lot of credit for owning up to his poor play. He was accountable for his own mistakes and never made any excuses. Peters is a true competitor and I am confident that he will work as hard as he can to improve throughout the rest of the season. However, actions speak louder than words and results on the field are the only thing that matters to Rams fans. If Marcus Peters believes he’s a top corner in the NFL he will need to show it soon.
Photo: Rich Hammond/The Orange County Register