The Los Angeles Rams are 5-1 and one of the hottest teams in the National Football League.
This week, we asked you to send in your questions on social media and our Turf Show Times writing staff provided their takes as LA prepares for a highly anticipated matchup against their former quarterback, Jared Goff, and the Detroit Lions.
1 - Are the Rams secure at running back? How do you see the position sorting itself out over the remainder of the season?
Are the Rams Really secure at Running Back? Cam Akers is hurt (obv) but is he a long term solution for us? Rams offense looks great but the playbook could be opened up more with a dependable backfield. Also side note Release Henderson— Hero Of Time 39 (@HeroOfTime39) October 20, 2021
Biggest long-term concern with the running back position is a life or elimination scenario late in the year or playoffs, where the Rams are down yet another running back (Darrell Henderson or Sony Michel) and they’re facing a situation where they need to run the ball successfully. Let’s say the Rams are nursing an eight-point lead in the second half and want to run the ball, eat some clock, pick up first downs, but for whatever reason, it’s not working. Or take these teams that are ranked high on pass defense by DVOA: Cardinals (2nd), Vikings (3rd), Cowboys (10th) and LA needs to be more “balanced” to succeed.
I think the separation between Henderson and Michel has been apparent, though I don’t think we can say Michel couldn’t get the job done. It’s just more of a “What if?” concern than it is a pressing issue like it is at cornerback.
Venie Randy Soares
Yes, the security is in the Rams blocking schemes. Arguably, even after the loss of Cam Akers, the team hasn’t missed a beat.
All the backs, no matter their size or running style, have one thing in common, they are all one cut and go players. Their zone backgrounds prepare them to be interchangeable in McVay’s offense.
Robert Finn (Follow on Twitter)
The only issue the Rams have at running back is McVay’s reluctance to commit to it. They seem to have found a nice balance between Henderson and Michel the past two games and I expect that to be what we see the rest of the way barring injury.
No, the Rams are not secure at running back. Running backs get the hell beat out of them during the season, and L.A. only has two with real experience. Darrell Henderson is probably going to miss another game or two at some point, just due to the nature of the position. Sony Michel’s availability against the Detroit Lions is in question. Another back with some experience and a proven track record in pass protection would be a nice addition with the loss of Jake Funk.
In today’s NFL, teams really need two running backs that can share the load and keep each other fresh over the course of the season. This is especially true in 2021 now that there are 17 games.
The good news for the Rams is that they have two dependable, do-it-all runners. The downside of Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel is they both have lengthy injury histories. LA needs both players healthy and available down the stretch, because they don’t have the ability to adequately replace either at this point in the season. The Rams are secure - until they aren’t.
For now? Yes, they are secure. With Sony Michel’s shoulder only be a minor issue, I’m not ready to hit a panic button yet. Henderson has also put together a strong showing through 6 games.
2 - Johnny Mundt will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. Who will step up at tight-end in his absence?
Who fills in for Johnny Mundt? Could we see more Brycen Hopkins because of his ability as a blocker or will we see Jacob Harris get unleashed?— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) October 20, 2021
Pretty much anyone. He hasn’t played more than 50% of offensive snaps in any game this season and has recorded exactly one reception and one tackle for the year. Sad to see him go down, but it’s not a significant hole to fill.
Jacob Harris seems likely to get the first crack at it. Brycen Hopkins just hasn’t seized the opportunity going into Year 2. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see more 11 personnel with Higbee playing a lot and perhaps more 4 wide sets.
While Mundt did not have much production in the passing game, the importance of his role as a blocking tight-end should not be understated. The Rams may be able to replace Mundt’s blocking with Kendall Blanton, but the team cannot afford to lose the flexibility of playing 12 personnel when the game script dictates it or when Sean McVay wants to throw another look at the defense to keep them honest.
I think we would all like to see Jacob Harris get a chunk of those extra snaps, but I think it’s going to be Brycen Hopkins, due to the the fact that Mundt was more of a blocker than receiver. I’m not saying Hopkins is thought of as a blocker, but his 6’5 245 pounds is more in line with Mundt’s size and probably more suited for life in the trenches than Harris’ 211 pound frame.
Venie Randy Soares
I think the job is Brycen Hopkins’ to lose. This is a make-or-break opportunity. If he can’t handle it, will he get another chance next year? They drafted Jacob Harris for a reason. That reason might prove to be replacing Hopkins.
Blanton should be activated for Sunday’s game versus the Detroit Lions and be ready to see some snaps. McVay is not reticent to play guys directly from the practice squad.
In a completely respectful manner, I say that nobody will step up to filly Johnny Mundt’s shoes. It’s not that Johnny Mundt is irreplaceable or invaluable, I just don’t think that there’s a tight end on the team that’s going to do what Johnny Mundt did. He was getting roughly 15 offensive snaps per game and it shouldn’t be hard for Brycen Hopkins or Kendall Blanton to pick up those snaps. I do wonder if it will be somewhat more of a “tell” to the defense though when they do get on the field.
3 - Should LA look for help at cornerback ahead of the trade deadline?
Do you see the Rams trading for a veteran Corner by the Trade Deadline?— Sergio M Quintero (@SergioMQuintero) October 20, 2021
At this point, I think L.A. should continue to focus on getting the younger corners reps. This is the perfect stretch to see what the Rams have at the cornerback position behind Darious Williams, just in case Los Angeles is unable to re-sign him at the end of the year. Please disregard this statement if Les Snead is able to get top tier corner at the trade deadline.
Venie Randy Soares
If the defense continues to play a soft zone, I don’t see the point. Only a blockbuster trade would bring the type of talent needed to upgrade the current secondary play.
I thought Donte Deayon played well vs, the New York Giants. Robert Rochell and David Long need all the snaps they can get to gain the experience they need. This soft spot in the schedule offers a chance for all the young secondary to gain experience and settle into the scheme.
Yeah. Why not? The right cornerback would be able to make a seamless transition and you’ve come this far, why stop now?
Dont’e Deayon is a productive player when given the chance, and his ability to make plays on the ball is impressive. The issue with Deayon, and likely the main reason he has been off/on the practice squad the last couple of seasons, is that he is severely undersized. The coaching staff cited Robert Rochell’s size and length when benching David Long, Jr. in favor of the rookie, but Deayon is 2 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than Long.
The Rams do not need to make a trade at corner, but they do need to put the players they have in the best possible position to succeed. This includes mitigating the size disadvantage of Long and Deayon as much as they can.
Not unless the market is buyer friendly. And even if it is, will a CB be able to overtake a healthy DWill when he returns from IR in 2 weeks. I also feel confident in improved play over the remaining 11 games from Rochell and Long Jr.
Nope. Darious Williams will be back soon enough while Robert Rochell and Dont’e Deayon flashed enough to make me feel comfortable with the secondary.
4 - Do the Rams need to counteract the quick passing approach that opposing offenses deploy? How can they do accomplish this?
Seems like every week I hear about how the opposing offense is getting the ball out of the QB’s hands as quickly as possible because of the Rams pass rush. So why don’t our DB’s play closer to the line of scrimmage?— Bernard Adamczyk (@veryfairben) October 20, 2021
I don’t consider the quick, short passes to be an issue for the Rams defense with the exception of missed tackles that allow receivers to turn the short plays into big runs after the catch.
LA’s defense is schematically inclined to keep a roof over the top of route patterns and force offenses to be patient. If opposing offenses try to push the ball down the field, the Rams should be in position to prevent a big play or create a turnover. This is a gamble, but we’ve really only seen one team in the last two seasons take advantage of this approach - the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round last year.
I would like to see more press coverage from the DBs but, realistically, I don’t think opposing offenses can live off the short passing game enough to regularly sustain drives.
Not really. The concept of the Defense is to contain teams into 3rd and Long situations. Really, the defense has done a good job of 1st and 2nd downs. The times where they have been hurt badly in passing have been on 3rd and Long situations (vs ARI - it was Kyler with his legs + a completion or two). The defense has beaten itself more times than not. Against SEA - it was holding and DPI penalties. And the first drive by NYG last Sunday was because of a poor angle on Rochell /good move by Toney to pick up YAC.
Outside of Jalen Ramsey, I don’t want the current crop of corners playing too much closer to the line. Williams isn’t a press corner and may get beat more often than not trying to play the physical game at the line of scrimmage with some of the bigger and stronger wide receivers in the division. Same goes for every other corner except Ramsey. Maybe Robert Rochell could develop into a press corner in another year or so. I’d rather give up plays in front of the corner and hope defenders can rally to the ball than a corner getting beat off the press and praying we don’t give up a cheap touchdown.
Venie Randy Soares
Using Taylor Rapp to undercut some of the shorter pass routes may be one answer, He had success last Sunday.
Another is edge pressure. If Leonard Floyd, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Terrell Lewis can consistently win one on one’s, Aaron Donald will feast in the second half of the season. If the Rams can apply a combination of pass rush and clogging up shorter pass lanes, the defense could rise to last year’s level.