The LA Rams now boast a trio of All-Pro defenders on the same defense. They are defensive lineman Aaron Donald, inside linebacker Bobby Wagner, and defensive back Jalen Ramsey. Is there such a thing in the NFL as too much of a good thing? The LA Rams appear to test that theory in the 2022 NFL season.
When the LA Rams added rookie defensive lineman Aaron Donald, there was something about him that had the feel of some quality, a special type of NFL player. He played three seasons for the LA Rams organization, drafted in 2014 before the Rams made a move at the head coach position that would change the destiny of the franchise, and his career, permanently.
In his first three NFL seasons, Donald would be named to the Pro Bowl three times and would earn the distinction of All-Pro twice. That season he was not named All-Pro? He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. In those first three seasons, he was clearly a force to be reckoned with. Be he was not enough on his own.
The next significant change to the organization happened at the moment that the LA Rams hired Head Coach Sean McVay. With his arrival, he turned his focus towards the offensive side of the ball and turned over the keys to the defense to a venerable defensive-minded coordinator, Wade Phillips.
Wade Phillips set the stage
Phillips was the ideal defensive coordinator for McVay. Having been a head coach himself, he understood the stress and challenges facing McVay as a newly hired head coach. But perhaps even more importantly, he instantly recognized the greatness of All-Pro DL Aaron Donald. How do we know this? He told us in a unique virtual #AskWade social media even where Wade Phillips fielded questions from his viewers.
Phillips added validation to the young-but-stellar career of Donald. After just six NFL seasons, longtime defensive coordinator Wade Phillips named his star defensive lineman a “sure-fire” Hall of Famer.
That’s quite the endorsement, isn’t it? Phillips also recognized the need for the LA Rams defense to do more in the secondary to slow down passes enough to allow the pass rush of Donald and company to find their mark. He experimented with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, but Talib suffered a career-ending injury, and Peters was not a fit for what the LA Rams wanted to do in pass defense.
And so, before the trade deadline of the 2019 NFL season, the LA Rams made a blockbuster trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey.