It’s not like the Los Angeles Rams were a bad defensive team last season.
They ranked 12th out of 32 NFL teams in fewest points allowed (20.6 ppg) and 13th in fewest passing yards per game (217.2 ypg), helping them win the NFC West division title with an 11-5 record.
But after losing 26-13 in their playoff opener to the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams attacked the offseason by turning a solid defense into an amazing one — at least on paper.
The Rams signed five-time All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and traded for a pair of two-time All-Pro cornerbacks: Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. They join three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, to form a star-studded unit. Now the Rams are a popular Super Bowl pick.
All three newcomers and Donald are on the NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking for 2018, with Talib earning the No. 53 spot as voted on by his peers around the league.
In his previous stops with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos (with whom he won a Super Bowl), Talib earned a reputation as one of the league’s toughest cover corners with a nose for the ball. Since entering the league in 2008, he ranks second among players with 34 interceptions.
Talib also ranks No. 4 all-time with 10 interception returns for touchdowns. With two more, he could tie career leader Rod Woodson.
Last season with the Broncos, Talib record 31 tackles, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception — which he took back 103 yards for a touchdown. He earned his fifth Pro Bowl nod.