While the LA Rams offense is sorting out some issues, the LA Rams defense is a savory blend of a stout and a stingy defense that has overcome numerous injuries to rank among one of the top defenses in the NFL. Despite ranking as the 16th defense in points allowed (we’ll discuss that in a moment, the Rams are the eighth-ranked defense in terms of passing yards allowed, and they are the ninth-ranked defense in terms of rushing yards allowed.
And yes, this is on a per-game basis.
In terms of pass defense, the Rams have allowed just six passing touchdowns, good enough to be the fifth-ranked defense in that category. In terms of rush defense, the Rams have allowed just three rushing touchdowns, which is good enough to be the third-best rush defense in terms of points allowed.
So where has the LA Rams slipped to fall to the 16th-ranked defense in points allowed? Well, the Rams have had two punts blocked, one good for a touchdown. And Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown two pick-sixes this season. That is three touchdowns, or 21 points, that were scored against the LA Rams without the defense ever taking the field.
Ernest Jones is a difference maker
But the Rams’ defense is holding up really well. Part of the reason is the impact that adding inside linebacker Bobby Wagner to this defense had made. Wagner leads the team in tackles with 46, is tied for the second most quarterback sacks with two, and has proven to be a strong boost to the Rams’ rush defense.
Right behind him is second-year defender Ernest Jones:
Jones is a virtual sponge, absorbing anything and everything that veteran All-Pro Wagner can share. And it’s showing up in his performance. ILB Ernest Jones plays fewer snaps but is second on the team in terms of tackles with 42. And he already has the respect and endorsement of DB Jalen Ramsey and ILB Bobby Wagner.
So what’s in store for Jones for the rest of the season?
Right now, he is on track to put up 130+ tackles, a feat that was accomplished just once in the LA Rams defense since head coach Sean McVay has taken over. That was achieved by ILB Cory Littleton in 2019, a year in which Littleton put up 3.5 QB sacks, defensed nine passes, and hauled in two interceptions.
This season, the LA Rams have both Jones and Wagner on track to record over 130+ tackles. Could this be a Pro Bowl season for Ernest Jones? By all rights, it should be. But the Rams are not going to get much attention this year, as the team has both Wagner and Jones excelling at the position and their loyalties among voters will likely cancel out one another.
But even as we focus on areas to improve the team, one thing is certain. The LA Rams have their best pair of inside ‘backers since McVay was handed the reins to the team. And perhaps arguably the best inside linebacker tandem in the NFL today.