The Los Angeles Rams began their quest to return to the Super Bowl with an ugly win in Carolina. The offense had a rough outing and looked hungover at times but the defense didn’t miss a beat.
Wade Phillips’ unit had a great outing led by Cory Littleton who recorded 14 tackles, a pick, and a fumble recovery. Cory Littleton was all over the field and played like a man looking for his own lucrative contract extension. He wasn’t the only defender who had an impact day as many Rams new and old made contributions all day.
Carolina’s plan was to double and triple-team reigning defensive player of the year and demigod Aaron Donald. Donald only recorded one tackle but the Panthers focus on him allowed the rest of the defense to create havoc. Dante Fowler Jr. began his contract year with two sacks and two tackles for a loss. Clay Matthews had a sack of his own in his Rams debut. Cory Littleton led the game in tackles but not far behind were safeties John Johnson and rookie Taylor Rapp. Johnson had 11 including one for a loss. Rapp had eight and the safety duo made life a living hell for Cam Newton and his receivers.
The Rams’ defense wasn’t perfect however as they did allow McCaffrey to score twice and committed a few dumb penalties but overall they showed they’re in a much better place than last year. Their pass defense demonstrated that they aren’t as susceptible to giving up big plays as they were a year ago. Aqib Talib looked healthy and while Marcus Peters struggled at times, he no longer looks he was pulled out of the lava on Mustafar.
They still struggled on the edge as they still haven’t solidified that position but everywhere else they look every bit the unit that nearly won the Super Bowl by themselves.
The offense found its way late and once they get going the Rams have one of the most complete teams in the league. They proved that they don’t need Aaron Donald to be the eater of worlds every week to be dominant and that should scare the rest of the league.
Next week should be a massive test as they get New Orleans in a rematch of the NFC Championship. McCaffrey was a great test for the Rams since they’ll have to take on the two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.
If Cory Littleton can have another dominant performance the Rams’ defense should pass with flying colors.