LA Rams should be nearly to full strength after the bye week

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams defense should be as healthy as ever after the bye week, adding Robinson and welcoming back Fuller

The LA Rams have been more fortunate than many NFL teams so far. After a 2019 season where the Rams were decimated by injuries, the team has been more fortunate this year.  At the midpoint of the 2020 NFL season, the LA Rams have two players who have been designated ‘out’ for the season. They are inside linebacker Travin Howard and defensive back Terrell Burgess.  Two other players, rookie safety Jordan Fuller and outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, are recuperating.  Finally, offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom is awaiting his return to the active roster on the designated to return roster.

This is a team that had to stitch together a roster in 2019, much like seamstresses stitched together with patches of cloth into a quilt.  While 2020 is by no means a roster battered with injuries, there is a bit of consternation right now. You see, a healthier team in 2020 is no more successful than a battered team in 2019.  We know the reasons why.  The Rams drafted three skill players to reinforce their offense this season.  but so far, the Rams have virtually refused to give them many opportunities to help the team’s offense.

Why the Rams second half will be different

The LA Rams no longer have a margin of error to ease in players. Rookies and veterans alike need to produce, and that needs to happen right out of the gates. Why? Well, the Rams host the Seattle Seahawks (6-1), then travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2), then host the San Francisco 49ers (4-5) and then travel to the Arizona Cardinals (5-2).  That four-game stretch, while facing three different NFC West rivals, also pits the Rams against a combined 21-10 record.  That’s a pretty tough haul.

So like it or not, the Rams don’t have the luxury of hiding chapters in the playbook. The Rams can no longer sit players who need to be saved for the future. This is now all-hands-on-deck, and the team needs everything from each player on the field.  But it also means that the Rams will need to involve more weapons on offense and play a stout opportunistic style of defense.

Robinson and Fuller booster set

The LA Rams defense plays at a different level when safety Jordan Fuller takes the field. He is a superb tackler, plays the run very well, and is quite annoying to receivers attempting to catch a pass in his vicinity.  He has earned a 72.4 grade from Pro Football Focus for his four starts. His performance has been so good that the overall defense suffers when he has missed playing.  The Rams have a 3-1 record with him at safety, and he has been a major factor in all games he has played.

The wild card factor is A’Shawn Robinson, who is a 6-foot-4 330-pound behemoth who has been on the shelf for the Rams all season long. Robinson is an ideal nose tackle for the LA Rams. Not only does his presence help the defensive line rotation, but he is a huge strong man who can play multiple roles on the defensive front. He collapses pockets, gobbles up blockers, and has surprising burst and agility to aide stunting to help free up teammates.  Those will be attributes that are sorely needed. Not because the Rams defense is playing poorly. Rather, it is the backbone of the team’s success this season. And it will be pushed to the limit in the last half of the season.

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The Rams are regaining full strength just in time to pause, take a deep breath, and push forward to the NFL Playoffs.  Time’s up. There is no more time to develop, improve, or get better. Now is the race to post-season, and the Rams need to put out everything they have to do so. It may likely be that the team will need to lean heavily upon their defense this season.  That’s a good thing because the defense is about to feature the Robinson and Fuller booster set.