Bobby Wagner making his presence felt on LA Rams’ defense

IRVINE, CA - JULY 29: Bobby Wagner #45 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on during training camp at University of California Irvine on July 29, 2022 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
IRVINE, CA - JULY 29: Bobby Wagner #45 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on during training camp at University of California Irvine on July 29, 2022 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Since LA Rams head coach Sean McVay took over the reins of the team in 2017, the Rams have had no shortage of talent on defense. However, one position that lacked elite production during McVay’s tenure is the inside linebacker position. Even as ILB Cory Littleton put up a Pro Bowl season in 2018, there was concern over his ability to defend the run.

Well, look no further than eleven-year veteran and All-Pro ILB Bobby Wagner to find the do-it-all defender that the Rams need to keep defensive coordinator Raheem Morris happy.

When LA Rams GM Les Snead was given a consensus thumbs up to do so from the Rams coaching staff, he signed the six-time All-Pro veteran to a five-year deal worth a maximum of $50 million. So far, Wagner has been nothing short of a stud for the LA Rams.

In Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills,  Bobby Wagner kicked off his Rams career with seven tackles, while also recording his first sack of the season. He followed up that solid performance against the Atlanta Falcons, where Wagner picked up his second sack in as many games. In just two games, Wagner is already demonstrating how he can change the middle of the defense for the Rams. While it’s still early, Wagner’s impact is obvious in how he is leading that side of the ball.

Von who?

How does he compare so far to last year’s heroic defensive addition? Looking back on OLB Von Miller’s impact in 2021, it took Miller until his fifth game to record his first quarterback sack for the Rams. Miller also finished with 31 tackles in eight starts for the Rams.

In his first season here, he’s already sporting the green dot and calling the signals for the defense. So far in two games, Wagner has two quarterback sacks and 14 tackles. If he continues at that pace, Bobby Wagner will finish this season with 17 quarterback sacks and 119 tackles. I think the Rams and Wagner will be excited if Wagner ends the year with that level of production.

Last year, former LA Rams ILB Troy Reeder was healthy for all twenty-two games, yet it was safety Jordan Fuller who was the signal caller for the majority of the year. That speaks volumes about the player and leader that Bobby Wagner is for the Rams.

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Mentoring the Rams’ young LBs

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons he is so vital to the team is for the development of Rams second-year ILB Ernest Jones. Jones once called his pairing with Wagner a dream come true, and that is already paying off in huge dividends already. Alongside Wagner, Ernest Jones also collected twelve tackles and a TFL on Sunday against Atlanta.

The Rams view Jones as a cornerstone player for the franchise in the future, and under the guidance of Bobby Wagner he will surely soak up as much as he can and become just that. Jones is currently on pace to put up 162 tackles this year.

It will be exciting to see what this defense can be this season with Wagner manning the middle. He is already seeming to become a tackle machine for the Rams, getting his nose in every play up front. With a dominant defensive line led by LA Rams DT Aaron Donald, Wagner could potentially be up for a career-high in sacks when sent on blitzes by Rams DC Raheem Morris. In just two games, he is already 40 percent of the way to tying his career-high sack total. Look for him to blow his previous sack total of five QB sacks out of the water this year.

If his two sacks and run stuffing ability hasn’t already caught your eye, you can look for Bobby Wagner to be all over the field for the LA Rams this season. This defense is only beginning to scratch the surface of what it could be by season’s end.

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