Rams own the 4th-ranked defense in DVOA this season

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Much has been made about the coaching performance of Raheem Morris this season after he replaced Brandon Staley as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. If you were to ask fans their opinion of Morris thus far, you’d get differing responses.

Despite the criticism that Morris has received, Los Angeles boasts the No. 4 ranked defense in the NFL in terms of Football Outsider’s DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) metric in the first six weeks.

Replacing Staley after just one season was going to be a tall task for the Rams, regardless of who they brought in. In Staley’s lone season as the defensive coordinator, Los Angeles had the No. 1-ranked defense overall in yards and points allowed, but coincidentally, the Rams were the No. 4 ranked defense in DVOA in 2020 as well.

The only three teams ahead of Los Angeles in DVOA on defense this season are the Buffalo Bills, the Arizona Cardinals, and the New Orleans Saints. While the Rams have posted a 5-1 record in the ledger, they are allowing 21.2 points per game, which is ninth in the NFL.

Of course, life can be a bit easier when you have Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey to scheme with. However, other guys are stepping up on the defense like Leonard Floyd, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Terrell Lewis, among others.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams have forced the fifth-most takeaways (10) and they are tied for the third-most sacks (18) in the league. Also, after giving up 108 rushing yards to David Montgomery in Week 1, Los Angeles has permitted 102.4 rushing yards per game in the previous five weeks.

It was naive for people to think that Morris could repeat the success that Staley had, especially with losing John Johnson and Troy Hill in free agency. But through the first six weeks, Morris has the defense in a similar spot it was a season ago, so the censure he’s received from certain fans is unwarranted so far.