5 ways LA Rams play better than expected in 2020

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Reason 1 – Rams defensive front seven full of surprises in 2020.

Much of the lowered expectations in 2020 hinge on the exit of some key LA Rams players on defense.  In fact, the Rams lost five of eleven starters from 2019 this offseason. To fill the vacancies, the team added two free agents and drafted two others, and ultimately added a number of talented players as undrafted free agents. And from those who are only casually aware of the team, that certainly seems like a huge fail in the context of retooling the team for a new season.

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But intimacy with the team, the details, and the dominating potential of this defense tells a completely different story.  For starters, the addition of strongman A’Shawn Robinson to the nose tackle and the return of Michael Brockers to defensive end restores this defensive front to 2018 formidability. During that year, the Rams relied upon the power of Ndamukong Suh to clog up the middle so Brockers and All-Pro Aaron Donald could seek out and destroy. In that year, Donald sacked the quarterback an amazing 20.5 times. Now with Robinson clogging up the middle, look for Donald to dominate once more.

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LInebackers moving forward in 2020

The Rams linebacking corps will be a complete rework for 2020. While that sounds concerning, the team was in a bit of a scramble in 2019 as the team endured multiple injuries at the position as well. Of course, look for the team to be led by newly signed outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He is skilled and is a younger version of outgoing veteran Clay Matthews. He will be partnered with Samson Ebukam, a young player who is surprisingly effective but well-kept secret. The interior will be the center of fierce competition, but I expect Micah Kiser and Kenny Young to emerge as starters.

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But the greatest aspect of the Rams front seven is the benefit of playing alongside All-Pro Aaron Donald.  While Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler Jr. set up shop elsewhere, they will no longer have the benefit of Aaron Donald’s double and triple-teaming.  But the new Rams players who must step up this year most certainly will benefit.  And that is before defensive coordinator Brandon Staley works his magic. The Rams defensive front seven will be just fine in 2020.