Rams’ high-scoring offense is getting a boost from turnover-producing defense
By Rich Hammond
THOUSAND OAKS — It’s amazing no fights took place.
From the first day of training camp, Rams defenders focused on turnovers. Even in innocuous, no-contact drills, linemen and linebackers would reach in and attempt to rip the ball away from offensive teammates.
The mentality carried over. While much of the focus this season has been on the Rams’ high-scoring offense, the defense has forced an NFL-high 19 takeaways. That’s one more than the Rams forced all of last season, when they were average defensively but rarely made momentum-changing plays.
That has changed under first-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose aggressive defensive front has forced quarterbacks into rushed throws and interceptions, and also has stripped balls from running backs.
“We’re just competing at the highest level and going after the ball as much as possible,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “When the ball is in the air, we preach attacking the ball. When we have a guy corralled, we try to cause a fumble and get on the ball. It definitely makes our job a lot easier when we can do that.”
Rams coach Sean McVay is so focused on the turnover margin that he, practically on a weekly basis, repeats some version of this mantra to reporters: “Other than points, there is no greater indicator of wins and losses in this league than turnovers.”
That’s indisputable. The Rams are 7-2 and have a plus-7 turnover margin, third-best in the NFL. In 2016, the Rams went 4-12 and had a minus-11 turnover margin. This season, the top nine teams in turnover margin, starting with plus-11 Buffalo, all have winning records and have a combined record of 55-26.
To drill down further, the Rams are 5-0 this season when they win the turnover battle and 0-2 when they lose it (they’re also 2-0 when turnovers are tied).
As McVay would note, […]