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Rams defensive overview post-week 4: Pass rush lacking around Donald

Through four games, Rams averaging 1.8 sacks/game

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams defense has allowed 23.5 points per game through four regulars season matchups. Outside of the Buffalo Bills letdown, LA is only allowing 18.7 pts ppg. Overall, the defense has put the offense in a position to win every game, including Buffalo. With a more advanced look though, there are some areas where Los Angeles needs players along the defensive line, edge rushers, and secondary to step up.

In order to gain a sense of the performance of the roster and its direction, Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded out all the players from the Week 4 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.

Be sure to check out the week four analysis of the offensive players and position groups.

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: 88.4 (-1.8), A’Shawn Robinson: 60.1 (+4.5), Greg Gaines: 57.3 (+4.8), Marquise Copeland: 68.0 (-2.9), Bobby Brown III: SUS, Mike Hoecht: 62.2 (DNP), Jonah Williams: 29.3 (+0.1)

The run defense, outside of a 32-yard touchdown run by Jeff Wilson, was relatively solid. Los Angeles held San Francisco to less than 100 yards rushing, something they struggled to do last year.

The pass rush, on the other hand, was not up to Eric Henderson and Raheem Morris’s standard. They need to be able to create pressure with a four-man rush but have not been able to do so. LA is averaging 1.8 sacks/game, far from their pace in previous years. Outside of Donald, the Rams do not have a defensive lineman that can purely rush the passer on third downs.

The Rams could look to trade for Yannick Ngakoue, Marcus Davenport, or Da’Ron Payne to bolster their defensive line rotation.

Week 4 Grade: B-, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Neutral


Bobby Wagner: 86.7* (+1.1), Ernest Jones: 71.6 (-2.1), Travin Howard: IR, Christian Rozeboom: DNP, Jake Hummel: DNP

Bobby Wagner had an effect on San Francisco’s offense. Shanahan elected to pass more frequently because of Wags run diagnostic ability. Even though it wasn’t an eye-popping performance, Wagner gives the Rams a balance to defend both the pass and run.

Ernest Jones didn’t have his best night, getting picked on in some of the medium crossers that SF ran.

Week 4 Grade: B, Season Grade: B, Trend: Very Slight Downward


Leonard Floyd: 56.3 (+7.8), Justin Hollins: 50.6 (+2.7), Terrell Lewis: 63.1 (-9.2), Takarrist McKinley: 62.8 (DNP), Daniel Hardy: IR

Floyd and Hollins defended the run well. But I am still firm on my opinion that Floyd is not living up to his $16 million average annual salary. He has zero sacks through four games, doing little to assist the defensive line pass rush.

Edge rushers that could be on the trade block are Clelin Ferrell and Robert Quinn.

Week 4 Grade: C-, Season Grade: D+, Trend: Neutral


Jalen Ramsey: 83.5* (+1.2), Troy Hill: 69.5 (IR), David Long Jr.: 58.5 (INA), Robert Rochell: 54.9 (+0.5), Cobie Durant: 52.1 (INA), Derion Kendrick: 53.0 (+0.9), Grant Haley: 65.3 (-7.4)

Jalen Ramsey was not targeted in this game showing his dominance in two straight divisional games. He made a fantastic play on a blitz, jumping in the air and batting a Garoppolo pass down from behind the line of scrimmage. Ramsey did have a missed tackle on Deebo’s touchdown.

Kendrick was targeted a few times early in the game. I do not fault him for being aggressive on the Garoppolo pass to Samuel. However, he settled in as the game went on. He has allowed 14 receptions on 23 targets in two games, but due to the Rams defensive scheme, short easy passes will be completed. I am impressed with his ability to defend on the outside one on one.

Grant Haley has been a little less effective, allowing nine receptions on 13 targets.

Week 4 Grade: B-, Season Grade: B-, Trend: Very Slight Downward


Nick Scott: 69.9 (-0.9), Taylor Rapp: 56.6 (+0.5), Jordan Fuller: 60.5 (-6.1), Terrell Burgess: 55.1 (+0.2), Russ Yeast: INA, Quentin Lake: PUP

Taylor Rapp was very bad, and it led to a second half benching (50% snap share). If Jordan Fuller had not reaggravated his hamstring, the Rams could have featured Nick Scott, Jordan Fuller, and Terrell Burgess in Week 5. Instead, Fuller will be out the next two to four weeks. Rapp has allowed eight receptions on ten targets while also adding 46 yards after the catch.

Week 4 Grade: D, Season Grade: D, Trend: Moderate Downward

Special Teams

Riley Dixon: 71.4 (+8.3), Matt Gay: 76.4 (+0.1)

Matt Gay connected on all three field goals. Unfortunately, all within short distances.

Riley Dixon averaged 57.3 yards per punt on four punts. He had a long of 60 yards but did not land any punts inside the 20.

The Rams punt coverage allowed 17 yards/return and one kickoff return for 21 yards.

Week 4 Grade: B+, Season Grade: C+, Trend: Moderate Upward

Coordinators - Raheem Morris & Joe DeCamillis

Anytime your defense holds an opposing offense to 17 points, it should result in a win. Morris’s unit was not flawless with the poor tackling by Taylor Rapp. The pass rush continues to be an issue and will likely be a point of emphasis going into Dallas.

DeCamillis has the special teams in a significantly better place than this time last year. Matt Gay is on pace to be pro bowl kicker.

Week 4 Grade: C+ (Morris), B+ (DeCamillis)

Season Grade: C+ (Morris), C+ (DeCamillis)

Trend: Slight Downward (Morris), Slight Upward (DeCamillis)