Two members of the Rams’ secondary allowed 127 of those yards through the air and were beaten on two aerial scores. One of them was also the nearest safety on one James Conner rushing touchdown. One more Ram was called out for the way his defenses have performed.
These three have since been criticized on social media. One had to face the music on Tuesday, October 5 in addressing the defensive woes. But, all three have a great opportunity to take advantage of the short week by redeeming themselves on Thursday. Who are they? Here’s a dive.
Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris
It starts with the man calling the defensive schemes.
Morris has been blasted on social media with some already calling for his resignation due to the defensive regression from 2020. The Rams defense has allowed 24.75 points per game and have surrendered an average of 396.75 total yards.
The first-year defensive coordinator, though, chose to stay upbeat.
“Sometimes, you need these wounds,” Morris told the L.A. media on Tuesday, which can be heard near the 27:15 mark of the post practice presser. “And then, you need to be around your guys. Going through it with them are other things that make you a better football team.”
Morris is another Ram who likes the short week, saying “it allows you to move your focus towards your next victory. You never want to let those kind of losses spill over into multiple losses.”
Morris acknowledged the execution wasn’t on par to the Rams’ liking against the Cardinals, zeroing in on the tackling. Via Pro Football Focus, the Rams missed nine tackles against the Cards. Improving the tackling was a clear point of emphasis once the Rams returned to practice.
“Our jobs as coaches is to identify problems. The player’s jobs are to fix them,” Morris said. “The best part for coaches is you can go attack your work right away. You get a quick glimpse at it, you look at it and you figure out what went wrong, what you need to do better and then you’re able to attack the next week.”
But again, Morris will need a much different game plan from the one he constructed versus Kyler Murray and the Cards to prove Sunday’s performance is in the past. Now on to players.
Cornerback David Long
Long was the most targeted member of the secondary against AZ, with five passes thrown his direction.
He ended up surrendering the most receiving yardage among Ram defenders at 89 total yards. And that includes this lob to A.J. Green:
The 5-foot-11 Long may have stayed attached to Green and didn’t surrender much of a cushion, but AZ head coach Kliff Kingsbury smartly still put the taller 6-foot-4 Green on the shorter CB, so the Cardinal can win the height advantage on the lob.
Morris himself said Long “didn’t have a great game” but believes he can bounce back.
In all likelihood, Seahawks offensive coordinator and ex-Rams assistant Shane Waldron will try to place the towering and chiseled 6-foot-4, 235-pound DK Metcalf on Long. However, there’s this plan to circumvent that possible pairing:
Regardless, Long is likely going to see the targets fly his way…along with this fellow DB.
Safety Taylor Rapp
Tackle wise, Rapp had a stellar game: Leading the way with 12 stops including six solo and missing one tackle.
But his coverage was his weak spot, ending with a 52.3 rating there by PFF. Rapp was the closest safety on this Murray to Maxx Williams end zone connection:
And, Rapp is one of the Rams walking into Thursday night’s game with an ailment.
There are Ram fans who believe Terrell Burgess is the better safety in coverage. One September 29 Bleacher Report article called for Rapp to be sent to the bench.
Lucky for Rapp, the 38 passing yards he allowed against the explosive Cards attack is a 47-yard decline from his performance against seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s dropped into coverage on 185 plays this season, and the Cards’ game was the only time he surrendered a TD his side.
But he was the safety to the side of Conner’s first rushing TD too. And stepping up and stopping the run has been a strength for Rapp.
Anytime you allow a TD, the next opponent will test you. And Waldron has gone against Rapp and Long before during his practice days with the Rams. He and the Seahawks will enter this TNF showdown with a high probability of coming after those two DB’s, as well as test Morris and his game plan.