It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams defense hasn’t looked as good in 2021 as it did during the 2020 season. It hasn’t had to now, though, with the addition of Matthew Stafford making the LA Rams offense more potent. The defense’s struggles led some analysts, including FOX’s Terry Bradshaw, to predict the Rams D would struggle against the New York Giants offense in Week 6.
That’s not exactly how Rams vs. Giants played out.
The LA Rams talented defense struggled at the beginning of the 2021 NFL season
While the LA Rams as a team seem great in 2021 on their way to a 5-1 record, there are defensive issues that should make fans a little nervous.
The vaunted Rams defense, led by three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and two-time All-Pro Jalen Ramsey, has struggled at times this season.
In 2020, the Rams gave up 24 or more points just four times. The LA defense gave up this number in three of its first four games this season, including an embarrassing 38 in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4.
On the FOX NFL Sunday pregame show, Michael Strahan noted that former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who left in the offseason to take the LA Chargers head job, was considered “the Sean McVay of defense.”
Without their innovative leader — and under the new direction of Raheem Morris — the Rams were ranked 23rd in defense, heading into Week 6. The unit also had allowed 106 more yards per game in 2021 (the biggest increase in the NFL) and gave up 17 20-plus-yard pass plays through six games.
These stats made some pundits nervous about how the Rams D would perform against quarterback Daniel Jones and the New York Giants offense on the road in Week 6.
Terry Bradshaw said the New York Giants offense would challenge the Rams D
Strahan and host James Brown shared the worrying statistics around the LA Rams defense in 2021. However, it was former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw who implicitly stated that the Giants might be able to move the ball on Sean McVay’s defensive unit:
I think this Giant offense shows up today because of what [Brown] said earlier about the Rams defense [being ranked 23rd]. They are not that good. Believe it or not, with all that talent, they are not playing that good. And I think it fits right into the Giants. I think it’s a heck of a football game today.Terry Bradshaw on the LA Rams defense
In addition to the Rams D being “not that good,” Bradshaw also cited several facts that made him bullish on the Giants’ offense. The Super Bowl-winning signal-caller noted that Jones was cleared to return after an ugly concussion in Week 5. The team was also getting back wide receiver Sterling Sheppard, and the emergence of rookie wideout Kadarius Toney was a big story from the previous week.
He did concede that the team’s big off-season free-agent signing, Kenny Golladay, was still out with a hyperextended knee. And, star running back was also sidelined with an ankle injury.
Despite all this, Bradshaw stuck to his guns and predicted a tough afternoon for the embattled Rams D.
Boy, was he wrong.
Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and company dominated the Giants on Sunday
The LA Rams beat the NY Giants 38-11 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The score is a pretty good indicator of how the game went for the Rams D vs. the Giants O, but there are some good stats for context.
The Giants kicked a field goal about six minutes into the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead. The team didn’t score again until about six minutes to go in the game, down by 35.
Aaron Donald and the Rams’ front absolutely smothered Big Blue’s running game. The end result was 18 rushing attempts for 60 total yards. The big men up front also sacked Jones four times, including once when they forced a fumble that Leonard Floyd recovered.
Jalen Ramsey’s group at the back had a banner day as well. The unit held Jones to 242 yards passing (29-of-51) and picked the third-year QB off three times. Safety Taylor Rapp has two of the INTs while rookie fourth-round corner Robert Rochell had the other.
All told, the Rams D limited the Giants to 261 net yards and held them to 6-of-19 on 3rd- and 4th-down conversions. Sunday’s success vaulted the unit from 23rd in the NFL to 11th in scoring and 22nd in yards allowed.
The LA Rams defense’s ranking should only improve this week when they get a visit from an old friend. The team takes on former QB Jared Goff and the 0-6 Detroit Lions at 4:05 p.m. EST on Terry Bradshaw’s FOX network.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference