Photograph: Matt Ludtke/AP
When the Rams sent what was left of their future assets to the Broncos a month ago to acquire Von Miller, they registered in the grandest of NFL experiments: What would it look like if a team truly went all in? What if they stopped worrying about tomorrow?
The ideal outcome was clear. Miller would redefine the Rams’ defense, allowing them to create all kinds of pressure with a four-man defensive front. Pair that with Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and an all-singing, all-dancing offense and you have a playoff-ready juggernaut.
Or not. The Rams have now lost three games on the spin. They’ve cratered on defense, falling from fourth in defensive efficiency in Week 8 all the way down to 19th spot at the close of play on Sunday.
Worse: The offense has fallen into a ditch. Over his entire career, Aaron Rodgers has thrown three pick-sixes. Matthew Stafford has thrown three in the last three weeks.
Worse still: The whole tenor of the team is, well, funky.
Since they acquired Miller at the trade deadline, they aren’t quick enough on defense; the stars unable to cover up for the lack of depth at linebacker and throughout the secondary. Up against an addled Packers’ offensive line on Sunday – one that was down its starting center, left guard, and onto its third-string left tackle – they failed to register consistent pressure, despite lining up with Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Miller.
The Rams Experiment was as much about star-hunting on defense as anything else. With Donald, Miller and Jalen Ramsey, the Rams figured they’d tipped the defensive odds in their favor. Defense is not as stable – year to year or week to week – as offense. But if you can land three of the 10 most significant defenders of a generation, all still just about in their primes, your odds get better. An offense might be able to scheme one of those three out of a game, but not all of them – at least in theory.
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