The Los Angeles Rams defense is one of the best in the NFL. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, given it touts a pair of All-Pros in defensive tackle Aaron Donald (a two-time Defensive Player of the Year) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. However, success wasn’t guaranteed—this offseason, the keys to the unit were handed to Brandon Staley, a young, relatively unknown former linebackers coach taking over for well-liked, veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Turns out the 38-year-old Staley is more than qualified—the Rams defense finished fourth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA ratings and dominated the Russell Wilson–led Seahawks in the team’s 30-20 wild-card win. Heading into the Rams’ divisional-round matchup with the 1-seed Packers, the Rams are once again on the cusp of a deep playoff run—but this time, it’s not thanks to an unstoppable offense, but an immovable defense.
Staley deserves credit for maximizing a defensive unit boasting immense stars while also elevating the abilities of lesser-known players who’ve developed into commodities.
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