Despite the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NFL is proceeding to kick off the 2020 season on schedule. With training camp altered to fit the league’s health and safety protocols and preseason cancelled, the regular season may get off to a slow start with teams trying to find their rhythm.
The Los Angeles Rams face an uphill battle as they not only need to work through the current health crisis but do so while integrating so many new pieces. The defense, in particular, took a hit as it lost several key contributors in Dante Fowler Jr., Eric Weddle and Cory Littleton, among others.
With so many holes and not many answers, new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley will need to get creative with his packages and groupings. The good news is that the defense will at least be getting a healthy John Johnson III.
Johnson has really come into his own since entering the league, and according to Eric D. Williams of Sports Illustrated, the safety believes that the Rams have the talent to still be one of the top units in the league:
“We’re going to stick together and get this thing done,” Johnson said “I’m excited; on paper I think we can be one of the better defense, and there’s no reason that we shouldn’t.”
When asked what the defense will look like under Staley, Johnson said they will be looking to make plays and cause turnovers:
“We’re just going to be aggressive,” Johnson said. “That’s what defenses do. And we’re going to get that ball, like we always do. In the past we’ve been one of the better takeaway teams, so that’s what you should expect.”
While the offense took a clear step back last year, the defense actually performed well in all areas and were often the reason Los Angeles was able to hang around in most games. It is anyone’s guess how they will look in Staley’s first year but they have two superstars in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, who will be able to keep them afloat while they figure out the scheme.
The NFC West is arguably the league’s toughest division, so the Rams will have their work cut out for them if they hope to get back into the postseason. Johnson is one valuable piece that Los Angeles will be glad to have back, but it will take more than him to help right the ship.