The LA Rams defense registered 48 quarterback sacks in 2017, but that number fell to 41 in 2018. The team rebounded to 50 quarterback sacks in 2019. Finally, in 2020, the Rams landed in 2nd place in the NFL with 53 quarterback sacks. So the question becomes: Can the LA Rams defense top 53 quarterback sacks in 2021?
Nobody expected the Rams to do well in 2020. After all, the team had lost a significant part of their pass rushers from 2019. The team lost Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler Jr., Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, Eric Weddle, and Nickell Robey Coleman simultaneously. Many expected the Rams to struggle to get to the quarterback, but the Rams did so at an even better pace.
Of course, any defensive line that includes All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald amidst its ranks will start at 15+ quarterback sacks. And the LA Rams were nearly able to double that with the addition of free-agent outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. They combined to generate 24 quarterback sacks between them in 2020. But much like 2019, the LA Rams lost a number of key players who were quite adept at getting to the quarterback.
Gone are the likes of Morgan Fox, Michael Brockers, Samson Ebukam, and Jachai Polite. They contributed 16.5 sacks to the defense. Now, the Rams must find new sacks from existing or new players. Who might step up?
For starters, veteran A’Shawn Robinson dropped 30 pounds and is much quicker and more explosive on the defensive line. He should be able to contribute a solid five-six sacks this year.
DL A’Shawn Robinson in action at minicamp pic.twitter.com/VOfBf1GpEh
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) June 8, 2021
Greater playing time for both Justin Hollins and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo should add another five quarterback sacks to the defense as well. But the defense will be turning towards rookies to contribute in the rotation this year. Players like defensive tackle Bobby Brown III, defensive end Earnest Brown IV, and outside linebacker Chris Garrett will all be looked at to apply pressure on the quarterback and generate some QB sacks in their first year.
The fact that the 2021 NFL season is now 17 games will help a great deal as well. That alone should add another three-four quarterback sacks to the Rams total for 2021 if the team can generate the same amount of pressure this year. For now, it’s another wash-rinse repeat cycle. The LA Rams have lost key defenders for two consecutive seasons. Can the Rams replace that production from within one more time?