The Los Angeles Rams remained mostly intact offensively through the offseason, but the defense is going to be a work in progress after all the difficult decisions that were made.
Not only did the Rams choose to release Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd, but they also traded away Jalen Ramsey. Those three veterans were big parts of the rotation during the 2022 season, so now Los Angeles will need to lean on its young and inexperienced players to carry the load.
Entering his third year, Ernest Jones has a massive opportunity to lead the defense especially now that Wagner is no longer next to him. However, Jones is confident in the group and believes their mindset will serve them well in 2023, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“That’s a bunch of dogs. That’s that one thing I’ll say is this group,” Jones said. “Losing Jalen was big, losing Bobby is big, but at the same time, we got to kind of move on and go forward. One thing I know about this group is we’re hungry. We got a lot of young guys that need to make names for themselves, that need to provide for their families. So at the same time, I know once we get rolling and once we get going, we’re gonna be something to deal with. All eleven hats to the ball is what I’m preaching and making sure that we do.”
Jones started 11 games last season, racking up 114 combined tackles, four tackles for loss, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one interception. While the numbers may not jump off the screen, Jones was a reliable linebacker in both run support and pass defense.
Aside from the on-field production, he’s also shown he can be a leader and potential team captain with how he carries himself. That is an important trait to have, especially now that the defense is lacking leaders outside of Aaron Donald.
Jones is just one piece the Rams will need to see a leap from, with others like Cobie Durant, Robert Rochell and Derion Kendrick in line for much bigger roles. Los Angeles will also have the 2023 NFL Draft to supplement their defense, though it’ll be hard to project how much they can contribute right away.
If the Rams are going to win games, it’s probably going to have to be on the backs of their offense though perhaps Jones and the defense will surprise some people.