What’s Going Well!
First, the positives: the Los Angeles Rams are doing well in points per game allowed (6th at 19.8/game), and are still 1st in point differential (+75). They are also generating plenty of pressures, especially from inside.
Per @PFF, before playing the Seahawks in Week 5, the combo of Donald and Suh is generating a mind-boggling number of pressures:
The Rams pass-rushing duo have delivered so far this season. pic.twitter.com/Pm3cmO0omj— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 5, 2018
And, after Week 5, the Rams still lead the league in pressure percentage:
Getting after the QB drives everything else that happens for a defense- these teams are applying the most pressure this season.#LARams #GoPats #DUUUVAL #HereWeGo #GoPackGo #RaiderNation #GoBucs #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/PPsl77uc91— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 9, 2018
What’s, Um, Not Great...
So, let’s not get it twisted that the Rams have not been successful where it counts; they have (so far). However, getting to the QB and converting those pressures to sacks/losses/long downs, especially from the EDGE positions, is still a concern and should be addressed (either internally or externally).
As we sit today, coming up on Week 6 of the NFL season, the Rams sit tied with the Patriots for last in sacks (6) and are dead last in QB hits (15). If they are to get deeper into the playoffs, it is reasonable to expect them to continue pushing for pass-rushing help, especially at the EDGE position.
Current Roster Situation
The combo of Samson Ebukam/Matt Longacre is still developing, but not as impactful at this point in the season (1 sack total between them, with Ebukam/Longacre playing 80%/50% of snaps, respectively). The Rams lost hybrid DE/OLB Dominique Easley to a season-ending knee injury, and are still waiting for promising rookie Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to return from his foot injury. That leaves the cupboard a bit bare at one of the most important areas of need.
This of course is not a surprise to anyone paying attention, but as we get deeper in the season I believe it’s going to show up on the scoreboard as the Rams play against quick-release QB’s like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Summary: the Rams are HOPING to hide this issue as long as they can.
The Big Question: What To Do?
Should the Rams stand pat and hope Ebukam/Longacre/Okoronkwo/etc. get hot, or should they press the Big Red Button and make a trade/FA signing? Here were the results of our round table:
Elijah Kim (@Football_EZK)
The Rams should move for a pass rusher. The Rams also have been depleted of draft capital in recent years due to massive big time trades. Why not make a move that shores up the pass rush while also preserving draft capital? The Rams should re-explore the signing of Junior Galette. Although Galette comes with some checkered past concerns, he is a low-risk signing that could help the Rams at getting to the quarterback.
Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP)
I say the Rams should absolutely look into adding an edge rusher. To me, the best combination of price, youth, upside, athleticism, and compensation will be Haason Reddick from the Arizona Cardinals. Now, the issue will be getting the Cardinals to trade a young player with major upside inside the division, but it’s been done before. Word on the street (Jason La Canfora - so take this with a mountain of salt) is the Cardinals are open to moving him. His lack of success has been the misuse of Reddick as opposed to his skill/talent in my opinion. I think he could make a great option for us at edge with his athleticism and potential pass rushing prowess.
I think the answer is yes, pending cost. Ogbo Okoronkwo will add something when he takes the field for the first time, but he’s still a rookie and relative unknown. Asking him to provide a huge pass rush boost is unrealistic. If someone like Haason Reddick was available, it would make sense to add him. However, pass rush isn’t the only concern. If the Rams brought in a player, you’d also hope he was stout against the run after the Seahawks gashed Los Angeles. If there’s ever a time to make another all out, Super Bowl push trade, this is obviously the year to do it with the team at 5-0.
Sean Wilkinson (@Papa_Lurch)
While I think the Rams need a pass rusher, I also think there is something to be said for being healthy. The Rams have yet to field their full, healthy defense in 2018. Let’s focus on getting them all on the field together before we look outside the organization.
For the right price. All options must be explored to make your team better at any position, but the need appears to be run stuffer or edge rusher for Rams
Brandon Bate (@NoPlanB_)
My short is answer is yes, they should absolutely look into acquiring a more effective edge rusher. It’s a glaring weakness on the defense, and I doubt the coaching staff are seeing the level of improvement they’d hoped for from the current crop. All that said, I don’t _expect_ them to go out and trade for someone, and so I’m fully prepared to see more of the same moving forward. But hey, I also didn’t see the Rams picking up the phone for Khalil Mack, so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised before the deadline.
Eric Nagel (@Eric_nagel)
Should the Rams trade for an EDGE presence? Maybe when you’re 5-0 I’m not sure what difference you need to make, even if it’s close. The Rams have two division wins, have comfortable 3 game lead, and the team looks to be in pretty decent shape to repeat their playoff appearance, without much challenge. The Rams are in win now mode though, so if the price is right, even if it’s a 1 year rental, I’d be up for it. Why not? The most important thing you want to remember if a deal were to happen was, will this improve the EDGE position? I don’t see much point in trading for a decent EDGE rusher, when the Rams platoon is already ‘okay’ from a talent standpoint. Unless it’s a big enough difference, then I just don’t see a point.
Skye Sverdlin (@Skyeattolah)
I think they should explore the market, like always. Easley being out is a real bummer, and it’s hard to count on Ogbonnia Okoronkwo as rookie who missed camp. I do think Wade has plenty of blitzes that he hasn’t shown yet though, look for an uptick in scheme pressure regardless of what the Rams ultimately do.
If the Rams can get an EDGE rusher for a 3rd round pick that still has some years left on his contract, sure. But I think it’ll be slim pickings and the smarter play might be waiting until free agency or the draft. I still have a lot of faith in Ogbo because something is wrong with me.
I’m in the “Rams should trade for a pass rusher” camp, I just do not know whom to trade for. I thought Samson Ebukam would hit stride, but no avail. It’s the one of the Rams’ weaknesses on defense.
The Rams currently rank 9th in the NFC in sacks, with 10, putting them on pace for a paltry 32 on the season at 2 per game. Last year’s squad notched 48, or 3 per game, and finished second in the conference. Entering the season, I was confident that Samson Ebukam would be a double-digit sack guy and that someone else would step up, given reps and the luxury of playing next to a disruptive interior DL. I was wrong. Given that we’ve got a few compensatory selections headed our way in next year’s draft, I’d be shocked if Les Snead isn’t working the phones. If we’re truly in win-now mode, this pass rush has got to be addressed. An inexpensive veteran with some gas left in the tank and a healthy Ogbo Okoronkwo could be just what the Doctor ordered.
Yeah, I’d be fine pulling off a trade in concept, but not sure there are many feasible candidates. I said last year that Arizona Cardinals EDGE Chandler Jones would be a perfect trade option; I’d be more than happy to pull it off this year, though it would take some SERIOUS cap work to make him fit this year. That’s the perfect scenario. Everything else is imperfect and feels like desperation which hardly lends itself to solid outcomes. Trading for a non-premium talent, especially mid-season, is just not likely to actually improve anything except perhaps expectations and that aint worth much for a team that’s actually winning.
At this point, it’s probably best just to roll with what we have and work on (a) developing the young talents and (b) scheming around them as best possible.
I don’t think the Rams should trade for a passrusher. Let’s be honest teams really value passrushers and quarterbacks. So if a team is willing to trade a passrusher more than likely he is not a performer and is a gamble.
I think the quality of players that the Rams have as rushers will be the same or better than what they can trade for. So I’m all for staying Pat and letting Wade develop new blitzes if that’s what it takes
What do you think? What would you do? Hit us up in the comments.