The Los Angeles Rams began the 2019 season needing to stop Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. Coming into Week 2, the matchup at running back doesn’t get any easier for the Rams as they face Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints.
In Week 1, the Rams were unable to contain McCaffrey on the ground or through the air. The Panthers running back was able to rush for 128 yards and two touchdowns; while also adding 81 yards on 10 receptions in the passing game.
Despite allowing McCaffrey to gash their defense, the Rams were able to squeak away with a 30-27 win over the Panthers. Wade Phillips and the Rams defense will need to make adjustments on how they defend Kamara on Sunday—if they hope to prevail over the Saints.
You may ask, how can Los Angeles stop Kamara from putting his stamp on the game? To answer that question, here is how the Rams can stop the Saints running back in Week 2.
While watching tape on the Saints this week, even Sean McVay realizes how tough it truly is to suppress Kamara out of the backfield. The Saints use Kamara in a multitude of ways due to his ability to be a threat with his legs and his hands.
In last year’s NFC Championship Game, Los Angeles was able to do a decent job at corraling Kamara in their 26-23 win over the Saints. Kamara finished the game with just 15 yards on the ground and while he was able to get 96 yards through the air; it came on 11 receptions.
So how were the Rams able to stifle the Saints running back as much as you possibly can? They simply chipped Kamara out of the backfield with their outside linebackers and would task someone with shadowing him on his routes.
To be successful against Kamara this week, Los Angeles should adopt a similar game plan as they had in last year’s NFC Championship Game. Only this time, the Rams should hand rookie Taylor Rapp the responsibility of mirroring the elusive running back.
Rapp may be inexperienced in the NFL but the Washington product is talented in pass coverage and is a phenomenal tackler in the open field. Against the Panthers, fans in Los Angeles were curious to see how the Rams defense would look like without Micah Kiser.
With Kiser being out, Phillips decided to deploy a nickel defense for the majority of the game. Due to this, Rapp received 32 of the team’s 67 snaps on defense. At the same time, Bryce Hager was only given 25 defensive snaps.
Therefore, it’s safe to believe that the Rams will roll out the same defensive scheme in Week 2. However, this time around, they should tell Rapp to stick with Kamara throughout the game.
Along with having Rapp follow his every move, the outside linebackers and defensive linemen will need to hit Kamara before he can get into his routes. As for plays that he lines up on the outside, Los Angeles can choose to play press coverage on him to create a timing issue with Drew Brees.
When facing Kamara, it’s nearly impossible to completely stop him in both facets of his game. Nevertheless, the Rams’ best shot at stopping him on Sunday is to have Rapp shadow him and have other players hit him before he gets into his routes.
With that being said, it is easier said than done to slow down one of the most electric running backs in the NFL.