The Los Angeles Rams have allowed four passing touchdowns through six games, which is tied as the fewest amount in the NFL with the Ravens, Bills, and Texans. The Browns have also allowed four touchdowns, but have only played in five games.
Who would have guessed that Raheem Morris’s defense could get this done despite having so much turnover on that side of the ball in the offseason, lacking a serious investment in the secondary and having already faced some of the league’s top quarterbacks? Morris’s days as a defensive coordinator for the Rams could be numbered, as his head coaching resume gets a little bit more glowing each week.
Raheem Morris deserves so much credit for what he's accomplishing with this group on defense for the Rams.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) October 16, 2023
Finished as the 3rd best defense in EPA and 4th in success rate yesterday.
While they rank 22nd overall in EPA this season, they're 11th in success rate.
The Rams have already faced Geno Smith’s Seahawks, Brock Purdy’s 49ers, Joe Burrow’s Bengals, Anthony Richardson’s Colts, Jalen Hurts’s Eagles, and most recently played an Arizona Cardinals team that surprisingly showed some pop with Josh Dobbs this season.
That is at least four Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks, but a Rams secondary with Ahkello Witherspoon, Jordan Fuller, Russ Yeast, Derion Kendrick, and Cobie Durant has helped hold their six opponents to fewer than one passing touchdown per contest.
L.A.’s safeties rank 29th in the NFL in salary this season, while the Rams cornerbacks rank 32nd. The Rams are spending $5 million on the cornerbacks who they still have on the roster, not including the amount that is owed against the cap to the traded Jalen Ramsey.
There are 30 cornerbacks in the NFL who are making more this season than the L.A. Rams entire cornerbacks room.
With $6 million going to the safeties, the L.A. Rams’ $11 million secondary is making the least amount in the league and doesn’t feature a single player who was drafted higher than the third round. Witherspoon was a third round pick of the 49ers in 2017. Another third round player, John Johnson, doesn’t play defense right now. The only fourth round pick is Cobie Durant.
The Rams allowed 13 points to the Seahawks, 19 to the Bengals, 23 to the Eagles and Colts, and 9 to the Cardinals. Only the 30 point game to the 49ers stands out and L.A. was one pre-halftime play away from holding San Francisco to fewer points. The Rams rank eighth in points per drive allowed and fourth in yards per drive allowed.
Certainly an area for improvement will be pass rush, as only three teams have fewer sacks than L.A.’s 10. However, the Rams are allowing the third-lowest completion percentage (56.9) and the seventh-lowest passer rating (76.7), so the pass rush hasn’t been as important yet.
It’s been an interesting road for Morris, who became a head coach before he had ever been an NFL coordinator.
Having been the finalist for the Colts last offseason and getting interviewed regularly for head coaching positions, Morris could finally get a job offer in the next cycle. Few others will have a resume that includes a three-year stint as a head coach already, plus someone who has worked on both the offensive (Morris was the passing game coordinator for Dan Quinn’s Falcons) and defensive side of the ball. Morris has been to two Super Bowls, including with the Falcons in 2016 and winning it with the Rams in 2021.
Though offensive coaches have been more “in style” recently, Morris shouldn’t be dinged for being a defensive coordinator. After all, he’s now spent four years on a staff with Kyle Shanahan (Washington, 2012-2013 and Atlanta, 2015-2016) and the last three years working with McVay, although they also had history in Tampa Bay and Washington.
So not only has he been around two of the most popular coaching trees in the NFL, he’s going to have a personal relationship with a lot of the best candidates available to be promoted to offensive coordinator in 2024.
Who knows what jobs will be available, but probably quite a few. Given how the Rams defense has played this season without much to work with, Raheem Morris should be one of the leading candidates this time to get hired to fill one of those roles.