Photo via The Ringer
On Tuesday, October 15, the defending NFC Champions Los Angeles Rams were in a dire position. They were just embarrassed 20-7 at home by their division rival San Francisco 49ers and dropped their third game in a row to fall to 3-3. In their three losses, a different flaw was exposed. In their 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their defense was torched by Jameis Winston and Jared Goff was forced to play catchup the entire game. In their 30-29 loss at Seattle, they were done in by costly turnovers and a running game that vanished in the second half. Lastly, their loss against the 49ers was due to an inept offensive line and an offense with no rhythm. The Rams look far from the team that dominated the league last season and represented the NFC in Super Bowl 53. Ever since the Patriots’ defense put on a clinic in that game, the Rams have not looked the same. The Rams have many issues and with a team currently in their Super Bowl window, they needed to shake things up.
That brings us back to Tuesday. The Rams started the day by putting cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve. Then they traded struggling cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for an undisclosed draft pick. That is a classic addition by subtraction as they needed to move on from a cornerback that has struggled to cover opposing wide receivers this season. Then they traded for center Austin Corbett from the Cleveland Browns to get reinforcements for a banged-up position that really is missing Roger Saffold, who was their star right tackle last season that joined the Titans in free agency.
However, the magnitude of those moves pales in comparison to the one they made on Tuesday evening. Now missing their two starting cornerbacks from last year and safety John Johnson who just went on injured reserve, general manager Les Snead decides to trade two first-round draft picks and 2021 fourth for possibly the best cornerback in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey has wanted out of Jacksonville since the start of the season. He has butted heads with the coaching staff, especially head coach Doug Marrone, and the front office. He missed the last three games with a back injury that now has suddenly gone away, and due to the birth of his second child. The Jaguars are struggling and sit at a record of 2-4, so for them to gain extra draft picks will help them secure more young pieces for the future is very important and it was the right move. Ramsey was not interested in playing for them again and getting value from that was much needed.
For the Rams side, this move had to be made. I have no problem with the Rams giving up two first-round draft picks for Ramsey. When teams make a pick in the NFL Draft, it usually is for a position of need. When a team needs an offensive lineman, their first pick usually the best available for that position. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys gave up their first-round pick for wide receiver Amari Cooper. That was a position of need for the Cowboys and they filled it with a player that has already produced instead of taking a risk on an unknown player after the season is over. Nowadays, teams that are in win-now mode are willing to fill positions of need sooner and with players already established as stars. This line of thinking explains the Rams’ move for Ramsey.
This is the Rams’ starting secondary from last season:
Lamarcus Joyner: left for Oakland in free agency.
John Johnson: on injured reserve
Aqib Talib: on injured reserve
Marcus Peters: struggling and promptly traded
The Rams’ current position of need is secondary and instead of waiting to get a prospect after this season, why not get possibly the best cornerback in the NFL who is only 24 years old in the middle of the season. The secondary was torched vs the Buccaneers and Seahawks and the Rams had no choice and had to plug in this hole or things were only going to continue to get worse.
While this doesn’t solve the entire secondary problem, it will help to know that one side is reliable. Just ask the Houston Texans about how bolstering an inept offensive line with a star on one side is working out for them.
The Rams are in a crucial stretch of their season. They currently sit outside the playoffs, are two games behind the Seattle Seahawks and 2.5 games behind the San Francisco 49ers. However, their next three games are all winnable as they will face the Atlanta Falcons who have statistically one of the NFL’s worst defenses, the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals, and the Pittsburgh Steelers with a backup quarterback after their bye week. This stretch should allow the Rams to pick up much-needed wins and get Ramsey implemented in their scheme. If defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can utilize Ramsey’s talents to the best of his ability, the Rams’ defense should be able to improve and not force Jared Goff into epic shootouts on a weekly basis.