Jalen Ramsey has the ability to match up with the best receivers in the NFL, essentially taking them out of the game by forcing the quarterback to go elsewhere with the football. He showed that on a weekly basis last season, shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and others.
But against the 49ers, the Rams chose not to use Ramsey in that role. They lined him up in the slot more often than not, having him blitz and match up with whichever receiver was across from him.
Sean McVay spoke to reporters Tuesday and explained why the Rams didn’t have Ramsey exclusively covering Samuel or Kittle, opting to use him in a variety of ways.
“I think there’s merit to that,” McVay said of having Ramsey on the opponent’s top receiver. “I think in order to be able to do that with Jalen, you still have to have some other complementary pieces that can go play elsewhere. (Dont’e Deayon) has been a guy that’s done an outstanding job being able to allow Jalen to have that flexibility these last couple of weeks. It was Darious (Williams) earlier in the season, it’s been Double D as of late. So, there’s a lot of layers to it, but there are certainly some instances – and we had that in the second half where he was matched up on some of those guys, but whether it’s Deebo, Kittle even (Brandon) Aiyuk made a couple plays. Definitely want to try to continue to find ways to have Jalen at the point of attack or where you envision offenses want their point of attack player to be, but there are a lot of layers to it.”
McVay said the Rams weren’t expecting Deayon to miss Monday’s game, so they were forced to make last-minute adjustments. Robert Rochell and David Long Jr. stepped up as the nickel corners behind Ramsey and Williams, but neither played particularly well. Deayon had been playing well in recent weeks but a thigh injury suffered late in the week set him back and caused him to miss Monday night’s contest.
Even if Deayon were to play, the Rams’ ultimate goal with Ramsey is to have him around the ball affecting the opposing offense – whether it’s by stopping the run, blitzing off the edge or covering the middle of the field.
If they were to keep him on one side of the field, McVay says the opponent can just target the other side and avoid throwing Ramsey’s way.
“This is all really geared towards the flexibility that Jalen enables us to operate with the different positions he can play, it’s how many different ways can we give him play opportunities?” McVay said. “And those ‘make a difference plays.’ Whereas if you’re exclusively just playing corner on one side or the other, you can basically say, ‘Okay, he’s going to shut out, or we’re going to just be able to stay away from that.’ But he’s not going to be able to impact and influence the game, even though in some ways it kind of does, but he’s just such a physical, tough player that you want to try to have him around the ball as much as possible, take advantage of all the versatility he provides. And I think on a week-to-week basis, that’s predicated on the opponent, how we want to utilize our personnel groupings.”
McVay admitted there were some plays where the Rams could’ve used him differently, but as he suggested before, the lack of flexibility with their other cornerbacks due to Deayon’s absence was a factor in this all.
“Guys did the best job they could adjusting, but there (were) some instances yesterday where I think we would like to say we could get Jalen in some different spots, but again, there was some reasons for not having the flexibility that maybe we’ve had the previous few weeks,” McVay said.
The Rams will have an extra week to digest the film and determine the best way to use Ramsey moving forward, but in their next game against the Packers, the plan should be obvious: put him on Davante Adams.
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