The Los Angeles Rams run an attacking 4-3 scheme basically what that means is there are four men on the defensive line and three linebackers. The attacking part of it is the way they deploy the defensive backs and how often they blitz the offense. By they I mean Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams since he is the defensive mastermind behind it all.
Well that was anyways the plan coming into 2016 right? It looks as though the Rams are going with what could be a full-time deployment of the 4-2-5 defensive set. What is that you may ask? It’s simple actually its four defensive lineman, two linebackers and five defensive backs. The issue is this, there is a lot of speed and acceleration on the field at once since you are playing five defensive backs who should be by all measure the fastest and quickest athletes on the field but that means they won’t be as beefy in the middle.
The thing with running crazy schemes like a 5-2, 46, 4-2-5 and 3-6-2 is that you are being aggressive in certain areas but are giving up something to have that “aggression”. The Rams won’t be playing just two linebackers all year because they did this last year in which they used ex-Ram Akeem Ayers as a situational pass rusher until Alec Ogletree went down with an injury that forced him to miss the season and thus left the Rams forced to play with three linebackers and to start Ayers.
Why are the Rams switching heavily to a 4-2-5 is probably your next question. Well, it has become abundantly clear especially with the release of Ayers and the Hard Knocks scene with LaMarcus Joyner. The Rams want to have Joyner on the field at all times. It’s also worth noting the Rams only kept three safeties on their entire roster. This set would give them the ability to play all three safeties at once.
Normally I wouldn’t advise doing this but I trust Williams and I trust the two linebackers the Rams are using. Bear in mind last year Ogletree started but Mark Barron was brought in big nickel packages. When Ogletree went down with the injury Barron slid into the linebacker role. This year Barron will remain there next to Ogletree who is now the MLB. With the athletically gifted freaks the Rams have at linebacker between those two, they can afford to give this two linebacker set a try.
What one should worry about is if it doesn’t work. Who do the Rams go to? Well after Ogletree and Barron on the roster you have back-up MLB former seventh-round pick out of Baylor, Bryce Hager who had an exceptional preseason but would really only play special teams unless Ogletree went down with an injury (we pray that doesn’t happen). After Hager? It’s only two more guys believe it or not. Josh Forrest who was drafted this year as a sixth-round pick out of Kentucky and the UDFA Cory Littleton who possesses a very nice skillset to come in and be used as a situational pass rusher. However it appears as though neither of those two would be ready to start as much as I like Littleton you need to know Littleton was used strictly as a pass rusher at Washington and is still trying to learn how to play as a 4-3 base linebacker.
Do I think the 4-2-5 will work? I do and I think this is just going to make the defense more versatile. It’s quite scary to see how much depth the defensive line has up front, the athleticism as a whole for the linebacker group and the speed and hard hitting ability of the defense. The Rams are rolling the dice in letting Ayers go to run this type of defense but if it succeeds watch out!