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Don’t rush to judge defense. Rams need to stop playing from behind

Rams linebacker Von Miller readies before a snap.
The Rams have not been able to consistently pressure the opposing quarterback, even after the addition of Von Miller.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

No need to worry. The Rams’ pass rush is coming together, and it will be the overwhelming force it was anticipated to be when the team added Von Miller to a front that included Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.

That, at least, is what Miller expects as the Rams prepare to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams have lost three games in a row, including a 36-28 defeat to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. The Rams, coming off an open date, sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers only once.

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“We wanted to come in and have a sack party the first game we got back,” Miller said Wednesday. “You know, it doesn’t happen like that. It’s pro sports.

“But I still got all the money on the Rams, all the money on this Rams rush. I’m really excited to see what we do in the future, and we’ve got six games left.”

Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ 36-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers, including that coach Sean McVay won’t call out Matthew Stafford for poor play.

Floyd has a team-best 7½ sacks, Donald six. Miller collected 4½ sacks in seven games for the Denver Broncos this season, but he has none in two games with the Rams.

In each of the last three games, the Rams have fallen behind early because of turnovers by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

The Rams trailed the Tennessee Titans 10-0 in the first quarter. The San Francisco 49ers got out to a 14-0 lead. And the Rams fell behind the Packers 10-0.

Playing from behind adversely affects the pass rush, Rams coach Sean McVay said.

“We’re not doing a good enough job of controlling the tempo of the game and getting leads where you can really unleash your pass rush,” McVay said. “When you get people into they’re playing from behind, they become one-dimensional — unfortunately like we’ve had to become in these last few games.”

The Rams already had a star-studded team before they acquired Miller on the eve of the NFL trade deadline, and then signed receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

But the two blockbuster moves have not produced a victory.

Miller, the most valuable player of Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season, says he is not worried.

The Rams were saddened by the death of Otis Anderson Jr., a running back who played for them during the preseason. He was shot to death Tuesday.

“We have all these stars, man, it’s really not that tough,” he said. “I really got all the faith in these guys, all the faith in Stafford and Odell and our offense. ... This is a time where we really got to double down on our team, double down on our energy at work, double down on our purpose and intent. ... [It’s] not time to start laxing. It’s time for us to get even tighter and make this push toward the playoffs.”

Unlike when they faced Rodgers and veteran 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the previous two games, the Rams face rookie Trevor Lawrence on Sunday.

The No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft has passed for nine touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. But seven of those interceptions occurred in the first three games. He has had only three passes intercepted in the last eight.

Miller sacked Lawrence when the Denver Broncos defeated the Jaguars 23-13 in the second game of the season. He is still looking for his first sack with the Rams, who have only three sacks in the last two games.

“It’s going to hit for us one of these games,” Miller said of the Rams. “We just got to keep going.”

NFL roundtable: The Rams and Chargers have slumped partly because Matthew Stafford has had interception problems for the Rams, and the Chargers offensive line keeps faltering.

They also need Stafford to avoid turnovers that put his team behind.

“You really can’t really put your finger on why, especially, elite quarterbacks struggle,” Miller said. “You just got to trust that they’ll be able to get through it.”

Miller referenced Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as quarterbacks who worked through problems with the help of defenses that created opportunities.

“Our defense, we can put him better situations for sure,” he said of Stafford. “If we can get him a turnover, if we can get him a short field. That’s what all these other teams have done for their elite quarterbacks. ... We got to create a short field for him, make it easy on him, help him get out of whatever funk he’s in right now.

“And when he gets out, NFL look out once again.”


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