Rams by the numbers, week 2: Signs of life on defense

Football Outsiders has released their VOA (Value Over Average) statistics for NFL teams through week 2. (For a refresher on VOA, here's a link). You'll notice right now, it's VOA rather than DVOA. Opponent adjustments will be figured in after week 4. For the St. Louis Rams, the results are not at all surprising. Total team VOA, taking into account the performance of the offense, defense and special teams, puts the Rams at -40.6%, 29th in the league. Let's look at the individual units.

OFFENSE

Total offensive VOA: -24.7%, 29th
Passing: -11.4%, 29th
Rushing: -3.5%, 18th

That's a step up from last week's -43.6% VOA for the offense, though they still rank 29th. I suspect our rushing number would look better with opponent adjustments figured into it, after all the Rams played one of the league's better defensive fronts this week and managed 6 yards per running play.

DEFENSE

Total defensive VOA: 12.5%, 22nd
Pass defense: 25.8%, 24th
Run defense: -1.5%, 20th

Remember, with defense, negative numbers are better as they indicate an opponent has a below average percentage of success on plays. Those numbers show improvement from the defense. The pass defense obviously suffers from the lack of an effective pass rush. Coverage, for the most part, has been pretty good from the defensive backs. FO now has it broken down by type of receiver, and the Rams have done well against #1 WRs (-31.6% VOA, 8th best) and #2 WRs (-18.2%, 11th best). As you might guess, their numbers against tight ends and running backs have been much worse. Against TEs, the Rams have a 52.5% VOA, and TEs are averaging 80 yards per game against the Rams. Hopefully, the success they had against Washington TE Chirs Cooley in the second half of last week's game reflects real improvement.

Look at the improvement against the run. For the first time in a long time, runs against the Rams defense have a below average chance of succeeding. Along with 3k, I'll give most of the credit for that to our much improved group of linebackers.

SPECIAL TEAMS

VOA: -3.4%, 23rd

Last week the Rams ST units produced a 0.3% VOA. Clearly, the woeful returns hurt them.

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