The Los Angeles Rams have a lot changes happening this season in the secondary. The team lost starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod. In their place is a hurt E.J. Gaines, Lamarcus Joyner, Mo Alexander, and Trumaine Johnson.
There were certainly some reasons to be hopeful that the Rams could overcome those losses. Jenkins got burned a lot and Johnson has been steady throughout his career.
McLeod, while a playmaker, also got burned in coverage and the Rams certainly could have used an upgrade at times. While unproven, Alexander has drawn comparisons to the late legend Sean Taylor by Gregg Williams.
This is a group that has promise and potential, but after the first preseason game, it didnt look that way. Now, it was only the first preseason game, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. The first team defense, specifically the secondary, was not good to say the least.
The Dallas Cowboys did not start Tony Romo and instead started rookie Dak Prescott. The rookie quarterback not named Jared Goff went 10 of 12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns in his brilliant debut.
Thats an 83% completion percentage against the Rams’ first team secondary. The cushion of death is back…
…and for a rookie quarterback to shred you apart in the manner that he did, preseason or not, is inexcusable. The unit certainly has a lot of work to do.
The play above is just one example of where the Rams need to improve, but Prescott shredded the secondary left and right.
Coty Sensabaugh has early reasons to be concerned. Prescott picked on him a lot. The play above, the cornerback never turns his head around to locate the ball, in fact he almost runs right past Dez Bryant.
The touchdown is a tough play for any cornerback to make. Bryant just makes a nice play on the ball and Prescott threw it beautifully to the back shoulder.
The last play is the deep touchdown to Terrance Williams. This play in 100% inexcusable. Joyner, who usually doesn’t play on the outside, gets beat bad on a double move and the receiver is a full step ahead of him when he catches the touchdown. These are the plays that can’t happen.
The losses of Jenkins and McLeod, like it or not, are going to take some time to get over. Jenkins was a high risk, high reward player, and McLeod made plays and was a big hitter. The biggest thing however, both of them knew the complex Gregg Williams system.
Between the two starting cornerbacks and safeties, two, or 50% of them, are new to the group. Building chemistry is not going to come right away. Gaines played well his rookie year but there is no telling if he’ll play at that level again, at least right away and Alexander has limited snaps on defense being mostly a special teams player.
Playing the system instinctively and knowing where everybody is going to be, when they are going to be there, and who they are covering is not going to happen over night.
After watching the second episode of Hard Knocks, Williams wasn’t the least bit happy with how his unit played which means hopefully they will get better in the next game or two.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot of improvement to get anywhere close to where they want to be. If this is a top-ten defense, 10/12 against a rookie quarterback can’t happen.
Week two against the Kansas City Chiefs will be a real test. Hopefully there will be improvement, but if week one is a sign of things to come, yes Rams fans, we need to be worried about the secondary.