The Rams brought in all new coordinators on offense, defense, and special teams in the offseason. Offensive Coordinator and Special Teams Coordinators Kevin O’Connel and John Bonamego have held the position with other teams.
But, Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley has never held the position in the NFL.
Staley’s defense was an unknown going into the week one matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams had a whole new identity on defense, and Staley’s defense was hard to crack on Sunday Night. The defense kept Dallas under 400 total yards and under 25 minutes of possession. We learned that the new Rams defense under Staley is a beast and hard to figure out.
The defense kept what was assumed to be a high powered and efficient Dallas offense at bay. The Cowboys only made three out of 12 of their third-down conversions and one out of three of their fourth-down attempts. The most impressive part of the defense was on the run. The Rams defense held Ezekiel Elliot to 96 rushing yards and the rest of the team to 40 rushing yards.
The rush for the Rams was formidable. While they only got three tackles for losses, they got in Dak Prescott’s face all night. Prescott was sacked three times and hit for another seven. That doesn’t include the many times the pocket collapsed around him and narrowly missing a sack. Aaron Donald lead the way on the line with four tackles, seven hits on Prescott, a tackle for a loss and a seven-yard sack.
The biggest challenge for the defense was the final drive of the game for Dallas. The two-minute drill is one of the essential game plans for an offense. Dallas received the ball with two and a half minutes left in the game. An offensive passing interference bailed out the defense at the end, but that does excuse their impeccable work.
Dallas attacked the defensive backs at the end of the game. They passed eight times and were allowed 16 yards in their final drive. Jordan Fuller and Jalen Ramsey made clutch tackles late in the game to force changes in possession. Fuller Tackled Cede Lamb on fourth and three to get the offense the ball. Ramsey followed it up the next drive with a hard hit against Amari Cooper on third-down to force an incomplete pass and a punt.
While Dallas threw for 80% of their final ten plays, the Rams isolated Dallas’s rookie right tackle Terence Steele to get pressure on Prescott. They did this by loading all the defensive linemen on the offensive line’s left side and had linebacker Leonard Floyd bull rush the rookie. This wasn’t the only strange look the Rams had against the Cowboys. Many times they would show one coverage and shift midplay. These plays confused Dallas and made it hard to predict the defense.
The Rams showed that they are a defense that you can not underestimate. Week one might be a small sample size, but they look like their Super Bowl selves. If they can hold Dallas to under 20 points and 400 yards then they should be competitive.
The NFC West will be one of the best conferences as Arizona beat the defending division and conference champion 49ers, and Seatle also recorded a win. That makes them the only division with three 1-0 teams and an interesting one to watch.
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