On paper, the Los Angeles Rams should be one of the most dominant teams in the NFL. In reality, they don’t play the game on paper. Sean McVay’s crew folded in yet another big game, opening the door for more criticism. ESPN analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky blasted the star-laden defense after a lackluster performance against the Green Bay Packers.
The all-in Rams are struggling
The LA Rams entered the 2021 NFL season with massive expectations. They ditched Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford to upgrade the quarterback position and help get them over the hump.
Sean McVay and company posted a 7-1 record through the first eight games of the season.
The rich appeared to get even richer when the Rams acquired All-Pro defensive end Von Miller from the Denver Broncos before the trade deadline.
The front office also added polarizing wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after his release from the Cleveland Browns. His addition came at the perfect time, too, as Robert Woods suffered a season-ending ACL injury in practice.
With new faces entering the mix, it usually takes some time to acclimate themselves into the system. However, no one could’ve predicted they’d struggle this much after rolling through the first half of the season.
The San Francisco 49ers absolutely stunned the Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 10. Even with a bye week to regroup, LA seemed unprepared for the Green Bay Packers as well.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky ripped LA’s defense after loss to Packers
The LA Rams’ defense is not playing up to its standard right now. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris’ unit has allowed more than 30 points in the last two games.
Aaron Rodgers carved up the Rams’ defense en route to a 36-28 victory in Week 12.
“I think their defense is soft,” said Orlovsky. “And I think their defense plays a lot of dumb football. It was evident yesterday.”
Orlovsky highlighted how the Rams misused one of its brightest stars on defense. “You saw multiple moments when Jalen Ramsey was wasted,” he said.
On multiple occasions, LA had cornerback Jalen Ramsey lined up in man coverage against tight ends instead of Davante Adams. As one of the NFL’s elite cover corners, you’d expect him to match up with the opposing offense’s biggest receiving threat.
“What are we doing right now?” asked Orlovsky.
As the ESPN analyst suggests, assigning a linebacker to defend the best wideout in the league is a categorical error.
Rex Ryan also chimed in, saying, “You’re not going to trick Aaron Rodgers. You better put your best darn player [Ramsey] on Davante Adams.”
The Rams have all the talent in the world but haven’t played like it recently.
Can the Rams reach the Super Bowl?
When general manager Les Snead made the moves to add Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., he signaled to the Rams that they were all-in on winning it all in 2021.
Super Bowl or bust can be the only motto with a star-studded roster like the one LA has. Even before Miller and Beckham came to town, the excitement was already building.
Despite dropping two straight games, the Rams are still 7-4 and sitting in second place in the NFC West. From here on out, though, every game is crucial for playoff positioning.
Matthew Stafford must realize that he’s no longer playing for the lowly Detroit Lions. He’s the starting quarterback for a contender and needs to play better in big games.
While it’s unfair to expect OBJ to fill the void left by Robert Woods’ injury, LA needs his big-play ability to shine through. Part of that falls on Sean McVay to put him in a position to make an impact alongside Cooper Kupp.
As for the defense, talent was never the issue. With Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller leading the charge, the pieces are in place to have an elite unit.
However, as Dan Orlovsky mentioned, the Rams need to play smarter football. Until these factors fall in line, questions will remain around whether or not this team can win a Super Bowl.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference