The Los Angeles Rams are going through more than one transition on defense in 2021. Not only will the team have a new defensive coordinator in Raheem Morris, but they will also have a new playcaller on the field. Last season it was John Johnson who wore the green dot and called plays. However, with his departure in free agency, the Rams will be looking for a new defensive leader in that aspect.
This will be the third consecutive season in which the Rams will have a new player quarterbacking the defense. In 2019 it was Cory Littleton. After Littleton left in free agency, the responsibility fell to Johnson. Now with Johnson gone, it will fall to yet another player.
However, unlike the last two years, the answer to the question on who will be given that responsibility isn’t quite as obvious. The Rams have young players at both safety and linebacker. The player who wears the green dot holds a great responsibility and must be on the field for 100% of the snaps. The player must understand the defense better than anyone and be able to make calls, changes, and get players lined up before the ball gets snapped.
Here are a few players that are most likely to wear the green dot in 2021 for the Rams defense.
It was a little strange for a safety to wear the green dot and call plays on defense last year when it was Johnson. However, it was a system that worked and it was a perfect role for Johnson. The question is, how will the Rams use their safeties this season and is Fuller someone who will constantly be on the field?
When it comes to the Rams’ safety pairing, Fuller seems to be the constant. Terrell Burgess is a player that will likely play a role, whether that’s in the slot as an extra defensive back and might even play high along with Fuller. On the other hand, Taylor Rapp is a box safety and that’s where the Rams will put him in order to succeed.
A sixth round pick last season, Fuller came into his own early and showed just how special he can be. He’s also no stranger to a leadership role. He was a captain for Ohio State in 2018 and 2019 as he tied for the team lead with 81. Fuller may not be as experienced as Johnson was, but he’s capable of filling that role.
If the Rams decide to go the more traditional route and give the green dot to a linebacker, Micah Kiser would seem to be the logical fit. In games that he played last season, Kiser was on the field for 100% of the defensive snaps in six of them and recorded 97% of the defensive snaps in another contest.
As with the safeties, the question with the linebacker position is how will the Rams use them and rotate them? The Rams have four linebackers and will likely rotate them given the game situation. Kiser could be the constant. The issue is, last season teams looked to expose Kiser in coverage and lack of sideline speed and had success. This was most notable against teams like Buffalo and San Francisco.
Jones might be a little bit of a dark horse. The Rams likely wouldn’t give this responsibility to a rookie, but if he impresses in training camp, I wouldn’t necessarily put it past them either. Wearing the green dot would give Jones a lot of responsibility and would mean that he would need to be on the field all the time. When the Rams drafted Jones, Les Snead said that he was the No. 1 rated leader on their big board. That’s the type of player that teams want calling a defense.
Additionally, Jones has spent some time calling plays for the Rams so far in OTA’s and minicamp. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be doing it during the regular season or going forward. However, he was given reps to do it which is a big step and shows that the Rams trust him.
“‘That’s what I was kind of brought in here for, to be vocal and continue what I did in college,’ Jones told reporters. ‘The first few days, [I was] being a little cautious and nervous [about] speaking in front of [teammates]. In just these last few days, I’ve become comfortable with them.’”
More Jones on Donald: "I was calling the play out and he didn't hear it, so then he asked me again and I about froze up, just because I was like, 'Bro, this is Aaron Donald.'"
— Gary Klein (@LATimesklein) May 26, 2021
Jones was a team captain in 2020 for the Gamecocks and was the heart and soul of that defense. It may take time for him to develop which is why he may not get the green dot this season.
This is another dark horse and something that would just be cool to see. Because Jalen Ramsey plays on the outside, logistically, it doesn’t make sense for him to be the one that calls plays and makes changes. However, if there is one cornerback that could do it, it’s Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and has a knowledge of the defense and defensive schemes better than almost anyone. He also fits the bill of needing to be on the field all the time. Ramsey is also very good at anticipating what an opposing offense is going to do which is just as important. Again, logistically, Ramsey likely is not an option, but it would be fun to see.