The Los Angeles Rams had one of the most reliable tacklers in the middle of their defense last season with Cory Littleton running the show at inside linebacker. He missed five total tackles on 139 attempts, a remarkable missed-tackle rate of only 3.6% – the second-best rate of any player with at least 100 tackles, behind just Taylor Rapp (2.9%).
They’re now transitioning to the least-proven group of linebackers in the NFL, with Micah Kiser taking Littleton’s spot as ILB1. While expectations are relatively high for the former Virginia Cavalier, the early returns are not encouraging.
In the season opener against the Cowboys, Kiser missed a whopping seven tackles, according to Pro Football Reference. That’s two more than Littleton missed on 1/10th of the attempts, which is obviously alarming. That doesn’t mean he’s going to miss more than five tackles each week, but he leads the NFL in that department with two more than any other player.
Finding it hard to believe that Kiser missed seven tackles against the Cowboys, we dove into the tape to find out what happened with the first-year starter. And it’s true: He did miss seven tackles, which we’ll break down below.
This was nothing short of ugly – from the entire Rams defense, really. Kiser, John Johnson and Jordan Fuller all overran the play and allowed Elliott to slip into the end zone, even though he had no business getting beyond the 5-yard line.
Kiser has to play more under control in the future, otherwise running backs are going to learn to cut back when he’s in pursuit like Elliott did here. There’s no excuse for Elliott scoring on this play and Kiser was the first man there.
We haven’t seen the all-22 on this game yet, so it’s hard to tell exactly where Kiser was when Prescott broke upfield. But this is a tackle he probably should’ve made, even if Prescott still would’ve gotten past the sticks.
Kiser was too slow to change directions and Prescott only needed to turn to his right slightly in order to avoid the would-be tackle.
Kiser actually did a good job shooting the gap and getting off the block in the backfield, but he wasn’t able to get back in position to bring down Pollard. It’s hard to completely fault Kiser for this miss because he was trailing Pollard when he made the attempt at tackling him, but the tailback just accelerated too quickly.
Still, it’s a play he probably should’ve made, or at least tripped up Pollard more than he did.
Kiser is being blocked by the left tackle Tyron Smith on this play, with one of his arms being wrapped up as Elliott goes through the line. This wasn’t a complete whiff and not entirely Kiser’s fault, considering he could only get one arm around Smith on the attempt.
He shouldn’t be blamed for missing this tackle, given the circumstances.
Kiser reads the play perfectly on this one and looks to be in great position, but he overruns it slightly and the center Joe Looney is able to shield him from Pollard just enough to prevent the tackle.
You can tell Kiser was disappointed to not make the tackle after the play, and had he kept his pads more square to the ball carrier, he might’ve mde the stop.
This is absolutely a tackle Kiser has to make. It’s understandable that he held his ground with Elliott slipping into the flat, but when Prescott made it clear that he was going to run for the first, Kiser had to bring him down.
Simply slowing him down and dragging his leg wasn’t enough to stop Prescott completely, allowing him to make it fourth-and-inches at a key point in the game. Kiser could’ve wrapped him up at around the 25-yard line.
After missing the tackle on Prescott’s third-down scramble, Kiser came right back and whiffed again in the hole on Elliott’s fourth-down carry. He shot teh gap nicely but Elliott easily sidestepped him to avoid the hit.
Had Kiser hit Elliott square in the chest, he likely would’ve been stopped short of the first down and thus ending the game, but he barely got a finger on the running back. Elliott is an elite back, but Kiser missed on this one.