Los Angeles Rams: Safety Nick Scott Playing Huge Role in Playoffs

by Blaine Grisak
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In Week 18, the Los Angeles Rams defense suffered a devastating loss. Safety Jordan Fuller went down with a shoulder injury with 12:47 remaining in the game. Everyone knows how the story ends. With the Rams leading 24-17, the 49ers marched down the field in less than 87 seconds to tie the game. Miscommunications in the secondary led to big plays on the tying touchdown drive.

The Rams fell in overtime.

In just his second season, Fuller has become a captain of the Rams defense and even wears the green dot to call plays. He’s essentially the quarterback of the defense and an excellent communicator. While Fuller’s production hasn’t shown up in the interceptions category, he’s almost doubled his tackle production.

On a team that uses its safeties more like linebackers, Fuller has been one of the surest tackles on the Rams defense this season. His missed tackle percentage of 8.6% ranked 19th in the NFL among safeties that played at least 50% of their team’s snaps. Pro Football Focus gave him a tackling grade of 82.3 which ranks 10th in the NFL.

To lose that heading into the playoffs was a huge blow for the Rams defense.

As they say in the NFL, however, “next man up.” That next man was Nick Scott.

Drafted in 2019 in the seventh round as a special teamer, prior to the postseason, Scott had played at least 70% of the team’s special teams snaps in every game. However, Scott has stepped up in the postseason on defense. The Rams pass defense leads the postseason with a -0.340 EPA/Play. For a team that has been without it’s starting two safeties, that’s impressive.

The Los Angeles Rams pass rush certainly has a lot to do with that. Both Aaron Donald and Von Miller lead the postseason in total quarterback pressures. However, led by Scott, the Rams secondary has made plays when needed.

Last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was Nick Scott who got his third career interception against Tom Brady nonetheless. Scott’s interception stopped a potential late first-half scoring attempt by the Buccaneers offense. The Rams were unable to get anything out of it due to a Cam Akers fumble. However, the turnover made sure that Tampa Bay came out of the first half with nothing.

Scott’s been playing 100% of the snaps on defense over the last two weeks and been making an impact. Pro Football Focus has Scott as the third-highest graded defensive player in the postseason. His 84.3 grade in coverage is second among safeties, trailing only Cincinnati’s Jesse Bates.

The Los Angeles Rams safety has been targeted twice in coverage and has yet to give up a reception and he has two pass breakups.

Despite being without Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp for the postseason, the Rams supposed lack of depth at safety has not been felt much due to the play of Scott. The Rams have done a great job of finding players late in the draft and developing them so that they can contribute when their number is called.

Scott’s biggest test to date will come on Sunday in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Shanahan has had success with the Los Angeles Rams defense in the past, exposing weaknesses at linebacker and safety. Scott had three missed tackles in Week 18 despite only playing 30 snaps. His missed tackle percentage of 37.5% was the fifth-highest for the week.

Playoff Scotty is a real thing. The safety from Penn State has been playing his best football in the postseason and the Rams will need that once again when they host the 49ers.

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