Best ‘backers in the NFL? LA Rams LBs flirting w something special
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams are on the cusp of something pretty remarkable, and it’s something that nobody is talking about. The Rams linebackers have the potential to be the best ‘backers group in the NFL in 2023. That’s right, I said it. And I will say it again. The LA Rams roster has the potential to boast the best linebacker group in the NFL in the 2023 NFL season.
How can I say that with a straight face? Because it’s true.
The Rams have three of four linebackers who are already pretty special. Led by veteran inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (140 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions), his teammate inside linebacker Ernest Jones (114 tackles, no sacks, one interception), and teammate outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (59 tackles, nine sacks, no interceptions) are contributing to a very good group. But the team needs one more in this group to complete the set, and a bit more oomph out of outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
What do I mean?
The Best NFL linebacker units had these qualities in common
When I investigated the Top-10 NFL linebacker units of all time, I wanted to see where the current LA Rams linebacker group fell in terms of common traits. Surprisingly, this team is close, quite close, to be mentioned in the discussions of the NFL’s best. Top-10 linebacking units boasted All-Pro linebackers, made tremendous numbers of tackles, got plenty of quarterback sacks, and created turnovers.
But let’s start with some of the things that this LA Rams’ staunch defensive unit has working against them.
The LA Rams run a 3-4 defensive formation, which makes inclusion in the Top-10 group tough to come by. Not only does it put pressure on the Rams to have four top linebackers, but the shield of having four blocker-gobbler defensive linemen in front of the linebackers is automatically whittled down to three.
The second challenge, and perhaps a far more difficult one to overcome for the Rams, is the need to have two edge rushers who each get 10+ quarterback sacks in the same season. After the 2022 season, the two top outside linebackers, Leonard Floyd and Michael Hoecht had just 9.0 and 4.5 quarterback sacks respectively. Okay, all I’ve done is state why the LA Rams are NOT deserving. Now, for the good stuff.