Aaron Donald, Alvin Kamara, Aqib Talib, Dante Fowler, Drew Brees, Julian Edelman, LA Rams, Marcus Peters, Mark Ingram, Max Unger, Michael Thomas, Ndamukong Suh, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Super Bowl, Ted Ginn
So for my final amateur adventures in film post I took a look at the LA Rams defence playing against the New Orleans Saints’ offence.
This was an interesting match-up as the Saints’ offence ranked fourth in league by DVOA and the Rams’ defence ranked nineteenth.
For most of this game the Rams did not play in a base 3-4 four defence, predominantly playing a 3-3 nickel or 3-2 dime defence. The hybrid defensive line consisted of three defensive linemen and Dante Fowler moving to either side of the line as a stand-up pass rusher. This highlighted how important the trade for him mid-season was, and against the Saints the Rams’ defence held them to under three hundred yards. However, whilst the Saints were only able to run for forty-eight yards, there were stretches where they were able to move the ball freely and Drew Brees threw for two-hundred and forty-nine yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams rush defence was not great this season, but they managed to bottle up the Saints pair of runners in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, but this was partly due to moments of brilliant from Suh and Donald rather than consistent run fits, although that did happen on some snaps. Still, it was very impressive to see Suh pushing back a centre of the quality of Max Unger as happened on a couple of plays.
However, for a lot of the game I was more impressed with the design of the Saints offence, with combinations of routes creating natural picks between defenders and several times using motion to get players open in the passing game. In the much talked about play where Nickell Robey-Coleman committed uncalled pass interference and a helmet to helmet hit, he was behind the Saints’ motion from before the ball was snapped so you can see why he desperately flew across the field and committed the interference to stop a touchdown. The problem for him this week will be that he admitted it and so the refs will be likely watching him closely in the Super Bowl and so despite him having some impressive pass breakups in this game, I wonder if he could struggle in a match-up against Julian Edelman in the slot.
The Rams secondary has some impressive names at corner, but Marcus Peters in known to gamble for the big play and Aqib Talib is ten days away from his thirty-third birthday. Too often the Saints were able to move the ball with short plays or scheme someone open, even if Michael Thomas was kept to a modest thirty-six yards, but Ted Ginn continued to prove his used in stretching the defence, whilst Alvin Kamara picked up ninety-six yards through the air as various players tried to follow him round the formation and often failed.
Overall there are a lot of big names in the Rams’ defensive unit, but they are really designed to play with a lead and counter a team passing the ball to catch up. For most of the year this was absolutely fine, but we shall have to see how it fairs this week in the Super Bowl. What price they will pay going forward given the number of high-price free-agents that comprise their star players, but the new acquisitions for this season were meant to get the Rams to the Super Bowl, so as far as the Rams are concerned the gamble was probably worth it.