5 players who need to play large role in LA Rams success this season

If the LA Rams are to compete in the 2025 NFL Playoffs, here are five players who will need to play a large role in the team's success.
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Blake Corum, Jordan Whittington
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Blake Corum, Jordan Whittington / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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II: ILB Ernest Jones

Even as the team pivots from legendary All-Pro DT Aaron Donald to a new chapter on the defensive side of the football, the team must rely on veteran inside linebacker Ernest Jones to bridge the gap from The Great One to the next chapter of defensive stars whose time is yet to come. In the interim, this defense must rely on the feistiness and intensity of the defensive signal caller.

So, how much more does Ernest Jones have in the tank?

From the perspective of production, the Rams 6-foot-2 230-pound veteran inside linebacker has been developing rapidly. He has the ability to rush the quarterback, stuff the run, clog the passing lands, defend the pass, and even jam up opposing offenses in their own backfield. The question is, can he continue to show higher and higher levels of production now that the is among the NFL's top tacklers?

New DC Chris Shula thinks so.

In face, Ernest Jones will carry the banner for the new defensive coordinator this year. That is a rather prestigious honor, as Jones will also be the barometer for Chris Shula's defense. The think is, I think that they two are almost perfectly suited for one another.

Even as Chris Shula carries the NFL legacy for great things, he is fighting to forge his own brand of thinking, of NFL strategy, with the Rams defense. But it cannot be different just for difference's sake. The Rams have a lot on the line this year, and a very young and inexpensive defense will still be expected to hold up their end of the bargain this season.

Cue inside linebacker Ernest Jones.

While the 2023 defense was certainly about the tremendous contribution from rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young, Jones elevated his game to Pro Bowl levels with 145 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks, six quarterback hits, and 14 tackles for a loss. Curiously, those lofty numbers were based on only 15 games last season. Had he competed in 17 games, Jones was on pace for a Top-5 tackler season.

In 2024, the Rams will need 17 games out of Ernest Jones, and every tackle that he can muster. While this team has plenty of young talent on the defensive side of the football, the young players are all a bit raw, and as such may be a bit inconsistent this year. Jones is the grand equalizer, and if the team has any real hope of post-season success, Jone will need a career-best season.