Can the Rams better this defense on the fly?
Of course, the Rams have other options in free agency now as well. The Dallas Cowboys just released Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith, a versatile linebacker who would be incredibly helpful to this Rams defense as well.
In 2021, the Rams have allowed two running backs to run for over 100 yards in a game. That is two games more than all of the 2020 NFL season. The Rams drafted a run-stopping thumper for their inside linebacker role in Ernest Jones. Jones has seen the field for 19 defensive snaps.
Jaylon Smith would give the Rams better versatility on defense, particularly in the face of what has been happening so far. If the offense opts to run the ball, he’s a huge body who can rush to and plug the hole quickly. If the offense opts to pass, he is big and fast enough to hang with all but the best tight ends in the NFL.
The Rams’ defense has such potential. But like any steel chain, the group is only as strong as its weakest link. The Green Bay Packers proved that the Rams defense struggles to defend the middle of the field, as the team has not actively filled their inside linebacker roles with top talent.
Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was able to address the linebacker role by limiting the responsibilities, drafting overlooked rookies, and home-growing the type of player he was looking for. Former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley gave no thought to the role. Rather, he used the inside linebacker like a big safety in the box.
Now, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris’ defensive scheme needs a lot more out of the inside linebacker role, only the talent level is just not there. So the Rams get gashed by determined running backs. Adding Jaylon Smith would put that to a screeching halt.