Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Rams DC Brandon Staley has big plans for Jalen Ramsey

Los Angeles Rams
23 May 2020, 18:24 GMT+10

One minute, 48 seconds.

That's how long Brandon Staley waxed poetic about Jalen Ramsey this week, when asked about his All-Pro corner.

"I love coaching this guy," the Rams new defensive coordinator told reporters in a virtual media session. "It has been one of the unique parts about this whole thing, the relationship that I've been able to form with him in a short time."

Acquired from Jacksonville for a pair of first round picks last October, Ramsey has been on Staley's radar since his freshman year at Florida State. Staley had multiple connections with that Seminoles staff, and combined with his observations of Ramsey's NFL career, held an informed opinion about the cornerstone he was inheriting when Sean McVay hired him.

"(Jalen) has been really, really fun to work with. He has got high capacity to learn; he's got a high capacity to lead."

Settle in, because Staley was just getting started.

"He's got command of all the positions in the defensive backfield," the first-time NFL defensive coordinator continued. "You know, I do not look at him just as a corner. I look at him as a (defensive back). This guy can do anything. He thinks like a quarterback. This game means a lot to him. His craft, his focus, his commitment... I couldn't be more impressed with this guy."

Not that we doubted Ramsey would be wearing Horns for many seasons to come, but Staley's affinity certainly can't hurt.

And from a coach's standpoint, not a bad idea to invest heavily in one of the new pillars of this roster. Next to Aaron Donald, there's a case to be made for Ramsey as the next-best player on the roster.

"He and I talk two, three times a day," Staley volunteered. "We FaceTime after every meeting."

That's right. After meetings, they have additional break-out sessions to talk ball one-on-one. Or at least that's the intention. Here's where the challenges of connecting through a pandemic have been accompanied by plenty of silver linings.

Staley reports that his relationship with Ramsey has already been enhanced by the interruptions of the next generation. Inevitably, their extra talk time is derailed by cameos from the star player's two daughters and the defensive coordinator's three sons. Those meaningful interactions would be unlikely to occur during a normal offseason program at the facility.

That's how Staley - finally - wound down his discourse on Ramsey, who is set for his first full season with Los Angeles in 2020.

But later, when asked about the rest of the defensive backfield and how they might complement the Pro Bowler, Staley picked up right where he left off.

"With Jalen, what's awesome about him is he can play anywhere. He can play outside or inside or safety. So we can move him around if we need to."

Safety?

Why would a coach take an elite talent at one of the most important positions in sports and move him around to other positions?

Could be just to mess with opposing quarterbacks. Could be to maximize the speed in the back end, get more corners on the field, potentially if the Cardinals go four-wide.

My guess? George Kittle.

Ramsey has a history of matching with tight ends, and the top tight end in the game is going to be a twice-a-year problem for Staley and the Rams. Even with the investments San Francisco has made at wide receiver, Kittle remains their most troublesome target. Perhaps that's where floating the idea of Ramsey as a "safety" comes in. After all, he's the size of John Johnson, not Troy Hill.

But that's speculation for another day (and Week 6, specifically).

For now, in mid-May, the fact that shutdown orders have somehow helped a shutdown corner bond with his new defensive coordinator should bode well for the future of Ramsey and the Rams defense.

"I think there's a lot more in him than he's shown in the NFL. I mean, he's shown himself to be one of the premier guys. But I know there's a lot more in him for him to showcase," Staley said. "Certainly, looking for him to provide a lot of leadership and production in that defensive backfield."

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