Fun with numbers: Rams have a solid defense, improving offense through four weeks

A quarter of the way through the season, the St. Louis Rams boast one of the league's most effective defenses and an offensive that gets better every week as rookie QB Sam Bradford continues to impress.

Statistics porn time. Football Outsiders have released their DVOA ratings for NFL teams through the first four weeksof the season. This time, opponent adjustments are figured into the final numbers. The full explanation is available on the link to FO listed above. And what do the numbers say about the St. Louis Rams

The Rams impressive defensive performances this season stand out, as you would expect. Expectations or not, after watching the Rams defense over these last few seasons, it's still stunning to see such progress. On the other side of the ball, the offense experienced a slight decline. What's behind the dip for the offense and the solid work of the Rams defense? Follow us down the rabbit hole to find out.

Here are the DVOA numbers and rank through week 4.

Overall DVOA: -11.7 percent, 23rd
Offensive DVOA: -17.4 percent, 26th
Defensive DVOA: -8.1 percent, 7th
Special teams DVOA: -2.4 percent, 23rd

Compare those to last week's numbers.

Offense: -15.2 percent, 23rd
Defense: -5.3 percent, 14th
Special teams: -2.9 percent, 23rd

Let's start with the defense, since the on-field results require little interpretation. Keeping teams to 17 points or less is good, no matter who the opponent is. Looking at the offensive numbers for the Rams opponents thus far, Washington is 8th best offensive team according to FO's stats. Holding them to just 16 points, their second lowest total of the season so far, speaks highly of the Rams defense. As for the Rams other opponents, Arizona and Oakland have offensive DVOA numbers toward the bottom of the league, 31st and 27th respectively. Seattle's offensive is ranked 24th. 

Opponent adjustments surely represent some of the slide in the Rams offensive DVOA. Three of the four opposing defenses they've faced rank pretty low, ARI, 26th; OAK, 29th; WAS, 24th. Except for the Washington game, the Rams offense struggled in the first two, not scoring enough points to win despite limiting opponents to less than 20 points. Seattle's defense is the toughest the Rams have faced, ranked 11th in DVOA. Detroit's defense is ranked 22nd, so Sam Bradford and the offense will need a more airtight performance to jump up much after week 5. 

The good news here is that the Rams offense has improved as the week's have gone by so far this season. FO doesn't have the numbers for week 4 in their premium database yet, but check out the Rams' offensive DVOA through the first three games:

Week 1, ARI: -30.4 percent
Week 2, OAK: -10.5 percent
Week 3, WAS: -2.0 percent

I can't say for sure, but I suspect that number will jump again for last week's game. That's a good sign, which shows first and foremost that Bradford is coming into his own, learning the playbook and ironing out the wrinkles in his game. He's still a rookie, and will struggle at times. The game against San Diego will be a big test, as their defense has the league's best DVOA mark through four games, being only slightly more susceptible to the rush than the pass. 

One more note on the Rams schedule so far, per DVOA of their opponents, a combined -21.3 percent, it's been the easiest schedule in the league so far. Things get a little tough through the last three-quarters of the season, with an average opponent DVOA of -7.8 percent, the 29th easiest schedule. Per DVOA, San Diego, Atlanta and Kansas City look to be the Rams' toughest opponents remaining. The Rams get all three of those teams at home. The toughest road game is against New Orleans in week 14. 

Of course, in the NFL lots of things can change in the span of a week. 

The bottom line is that the already surprising Rams are getting better. 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Turf Show Times

You must be a member of Turf Show Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Turf Show Times. You should read them.

Join Turf Show Times

You must be a member of Turf Show Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Turf Show Times. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker