THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has had his hands full, trying to game plan ways to stop big, athletic quarterbacks like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Philadelphia Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz in successive weeks.
It doesn’t get any easier on Sunday, with Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills on tap for his defense in Week 3.
“It’s been stressful,” joked Staley. “You keep waiting for them to get a little smaller, but they’re not. They’re getting bigger.”
Now in his third season, Allen has developed into one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. At 6-5 and 240 pounds, the University of Wyoming product can beat defenses with his legs and his arm.
Through three games, Allen has completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 727 yards, with six touchdowns and no interceptions. And he’s also ran for 76 rushing yards, fourth among all quarterbacks through three games.
In Buffalo’s 31-28 win over the Miami Dolphins last week on the road, Allen threw for 415 yards and four touchdowns, earning AFC player of the week honors.
“He’s been really impressive,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “You just look at the play-making ability, ability to create off-schedule. They’re doing a lot of different things. They are mixing personnel groupings and getting a lot of guys involved. Made their shot plays down the field.
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“They get into empty and can spread you out. So, he’s seeing the field really well right now. He’s making plays on-schedule, off-schedule. He’s playing the position at high level.”
Staley can look back at his defensive blueprint the first two weeks of the season for a way to slow down Allen. The Rams have allowed just one passing touchdown through two weeks, forced three turnovers and held opposing quarterbacks to a 73.6 passer rating, second-best in the NFL.
Staley’s defense has achieved those impressive numbers by creating consistent pressure up front with four rushers and doing a nice job of disguising coverages in the back end with a mixture of man and zone.
And defensively, Staley’s group has been effective tackling in space and limiting explosive plays.
So what’s Staley’s game plan for slowing down Allen?
“Just like any defense would try and accomplish, try to mix it up, try to play with some variety, try to create some post-snap decision making for him,” Staley said. “Not make it so obvious pre snap where he can play the game on his terms.
“You’ve got to make it more like rush hour traffic than cruise control, make it more like New York City traffic, than a trip on I-90 in upstate New York. It’s got to be more stressful for him. You try to make it like that, if you can.
“And then the thing about playing against a guy like Josh is that it’s just the down’s never over until it’s over -- that’s what we’ve seen these first three weeks. This being the third week, is that all these quarterbacks are extremely dangerous at the end of the down.”