Entering Week 6 versus Carolina, the Los Angeles Rams knew they must generate a win. With the offense struggling, it would mean the defense would need to control the game to give the offense every opportunity to succeed. Fortunately, Morris’s defensive unit was ready for the challenge and LA walked out of SoFi with a 24-10 win. The defense continues to provide evidence that it is a Top 10 unit in the league, maybe top five. Where is the production coming from? Maybe it lies in Les Snead’s moral: the Bobby Wagner rule.
In order to gain a sense of the performance of the roster and its direction, Pro Football Focus (PFF) I graded out all the players from the Week 6 contest. Using the PFF grades and the eye test of watching the game, I will provide a weekly evaluation and grade of the defensive positions.
Weekly Grade: Grade for that respective week
Season Grade: Grade for the position over the course of the season
Trend: Direction of the position group from last week to this week
* Denotes player is Top 3 at position in NFL
Aaron Donald: 91.3* (+0.2), A’Shawn Robinson: 67.0 (+3.2), Greg Gaines: 56.1 (-1.0), Marquise Copeland: 78.1 (-2.0), Bobby Brown III: SUS, Mike Hoecht: 64.4 (DNP), Jonah Williams: 35.3 (+5.6)
Aaron Donald and company did not have the chance to tee off on PJ Walker because Carolina ensured that they got the ball out quick to avoid such a catastrophe. Marquise Copeland got the start in place of a banged up Greg Gaines and was able to register his first sack of the 2022 season. Copeland has begun to carve out a place for himself on the defensive line, playing well when asked to cover 55% of the defense snaps.
Marquise Copeland records 6 Tackles and a Sack as the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-10. #NFL— Andrew Sheehy (@andrewsheehy228) October 17, 2022
A’Shawn Robinson played well in run defense and will receive fresh legs with Bobby Brown III’s return from suspension and a high ankle sprain.
If I had to guess of a lineman being let go to make space for BB, it would likely be Jonah Williams.
Week 6 Grade: B, Season Grade: B, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Bobby Wagner: 89.8* (-0.4), Ernest Jones: 74.0 (+4.5), Travin Howard: IR, Christian Rozeboom: DNP, Jake Hummel: DNP
Bobby Wagner ranks first out of 80 qualifying inside linebackers. The run defense ranks 10th in the NFL, surrendering 104.2 yards/game. The pass defense ranks ninth with 197.2 yards allowed/game. The defense should only prove to forge stronger with Wagner’s presence in the middle.
Rams LB Bobby Wagner now 15th all-time in regular season tackles with 1,423 after his first-quarter tackle against Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) October 16, 2022
Wagner has been a sure tackler and a key blitz component for Raheem Morris. While he has slowed down a step, the Utah St alum is still one of the most feared in the game. Through six games, Wags has 46 tackles (28 solo), two sacks, two tackles for loss, and four QB hits. Playing alongside Aaron Donald should open up more chances to increase those numbers over the next 11 games.
"I'll make sure they see me."— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) April 5, 2022
New Rams ILB Bobby Wagner opens up about release from Seattle and process in free agency, while Les Snead and Sean McVay talk scheme and the notorious "Bobby Wagner Rule" they've used for a decade in the draft ($1/month): https://t.co/KVmg8MYyXo
The most overlooked part of Wagner’s presence in LA is his mentorship of Ernest Jones. Jones still has parts of his game to polish in order to become an elite linebacker, but the second year pro is making strides to become nationally recognized more and more. Jalen Ramsey even revealed to Raheem Morris last year that the Jones needed to play more as a rookie. Jones was stout Sunday against Carolina, collecting seven tackles (five solo) and a pass deflection that resulted in a Nick Scott interception. He was graded as the Rams highest defensive player in Week 6.
Week 6 Grade: B+, Season Grade: B+, Trend: Very Slight Upward
Leonard Floyd: 62.1 (+2.7), Justin Hollins: 52.6 (+1.0), Terrell Lewis: 55.0 (-4.7), Daniel Hardy: IR
The edge rush continues to be a worrisome area for LA as they only have two sacks between Floyd, Hollins, and Lewis. Floyd looked more explosive off the snap against DAL and CAR, so maybe his slow start (zero sacks and only a handful of pressures) is because of a lower body injury in camp. Regardless, once again the Rams face the question of bringing in an outside option to boost their ability to create pressure by rushing four or five. External options include: Jonathan Greenard (HOU), Brian Burns (CAR), Robert Quinn (CHI), and Bradley Chubb (DEN). With all four teams looking to sell assets at the deadline, the Rams could scoop one up. I put the odds at above 50% for LA to pull the trigger since their championship window centers on Aaron Donald. The respective numbers for each are:
• Greenard: 9 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks, 5 TFL, 60.9 PFF Grade
• Burns: 24 tackles (15 solo), 4.0 sacks, 6 TFL, 74.8 PFF Grade
• Quinn: 7 tackles (5 solo), 1.0 sack, 1 TFL, 40.4 PFF Grade
• Chubb: 20 tackles (10 solo), 5.5 sacks, 4 TFL, 80.4 PFF Grade
Aaron Donald leads the Rams with 24 pressures.— AJ Schulte (@AJSchulteFB) October 18, 2022
No one else on the team has more than 9. Only one other player (Leonard Floyd) has more than 4.
In desperate need of a pass rush boost this season.
Week 6 Grade: C+, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Neutral
Jalen Ramsey: 85.8 (+2.8), Troy Hill: 69.5 (IR), David Long Jr.: 52.3 (-6.2), Robert Rochell: 58.0 (DNP), Cobie Durant: 52.1 (INA), Derion Kendrick: 49.8 (+3.9), Grant Haley: 70.8 (DNP)
PJ Walker did not bother to test the Rams secondary downfield - not with how Jalen Ramsey had been playing of late. The all pro cornerback added another sack in consecutive weeks. He clearly does have determination to chase Aaron Donald.
The Rams welcomed back David Long Jr from a groin injury. But his results this year have been underwhelming. He has allowed eight receptions on 12 targets. Through three and a half seasons, the third round pick has only managed to start seven games. If his play does not improve, the Rams could look to start Ramsey/T. Hill/Kendrick or Ramsey/T. Hill/Durant as both rookies have shown early promise in their rookie year.
Asked Sean McVay who the Rams will get back after the bye. His response: C Brian Allen, WR Van Jefferson, CB Troy Hill, DL Bobby Brown and CB Cobie Durant. Jefferson has been out since camp but McVay says team expects he can contribute right away.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 17, 2022
Grant Haley was injured Sunday with a Grade 2 ACL sprain. The Rams placed him on Injured Reserve.
Week 6 Grade: B, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Slight Upward
Nick Scott: 62.6 (+0.2), Taylor Rapp: 60.8 (+4.2), Jordan Fuller: 60.5 (IR), Terrell Burgess: 58.6 (DNP), Russ Yeast: 60.0 (DNP), Quentin Lake: PUP
The safeties were not tested on Sunday. Scott and Rapp were the only ones to see the field. Scott came up with a game clinching interception off an Ernest Jones pass deflection.
Rapp added five tackles (one solo).
Week 6 Grade: B, Season Grade: C-, Trend: Moderate Downward
Riley Dixon: 74.3 (-0.7), Matt Gay: 70.4 (+0.9)
Dixon punted often in the first half, which was disappointing for Rams fans to see. In total, he had five punts (240 yards) for an average of 48.0 yards/punt. His longest punt was 60 yards but only one was inside the 20, which goes to show the Rams offensive struggles to move the ball in the first half.
Matt Gay was 1/1 on field goal attempts, making a chip shot from 21 yards out. The Rams continue to struggle in the red zone giving Matt Gay short field goal opportunities, but they need to turn those drives into seven points, not three points.
Brandon Powell returned one punt for 15 yards after a controversial fair catch signal. Powell continues to show off his explosiveness when the ball is in his hands.
Week 6 Grade: B, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Slight Upward
Coordinators - Raheem Morris & Joe DeCamillis
Raheem Morris understood the game plan was to contain McCaffrey and despite a few early touches, the Rams defense managed to do so. Morris’s defense wasn’t on the field a lot Sunday so they should have plenty of rest for their Week 8 matchup versus San Francisco. Taking away SF’s run and quick passing game are essential for the Rams to take sole possession of the division.
Joe DeCamillis has the special teams in a stable place. Gay, Dixon, and Powell provide a strong combination for his unit, despite two blocked punts this season. But both blocks are attributed to Matt Orzech’s injury and failed block attempts up the middle.
Week 6 Grade: A- (Morris), B+ (DeCamillis)
Season Grade: C+ (Morris), B- (DeCamillis)
Trend: Slight Upward (Morris), Slight Upward (DeCamillis)