A crazy proven way to bolster the Rams pass rush without overspending

Right now, the Rams are getting veteran production out of rookie OLB Byron Young. Does it really make sense to spend more at the position in 2024?

Carolina Panthers,  Brian Burns
Carolina Panthers, Brian Burns / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
1 of 3
Next

The case for the LA Rams pass rush situation is viewed by many fans to be a critical need for the team's offseason strategy. After all, the Rams typically Top-10 pass rush fell to the bottom half of the league, generating only 41 quarterback sacks in 2023. which was ranked 23rd out of 32 teams for the season. But before that reinforces the cries to spend lavish amounts of money on a veteran pass rusher, keep in mind that the Rams typically rush four defenders after the quarterback.

What that translates into is that the Rams may add a veteran outside linebacker and tag him with a all-out pursuit of the opposing quarterback. But what of the team's other pass rushers? Do you want to put a very promising pass rusher like rookie outside linebacker Byron Young in coverage to allow the veteran to grab the spotlight on the Rams defense? Worse yet, do you intend to drop Michael Hoecht into coverage?

Or is the plan simply to cut Hoecht (and lose his 6.0 quarterback sacks) for the hope of spending top dollar on a veteran pass rusher who may or may not work out for the team?

The quest to find a solid and complementary group of pass rushers has been an elusive quest for many NFL teams, and one that the Rams have been fortunate enough to master at times. But let's be fair, the Rams' pass rush has not been dominating every year for the team. Let's look over the team's pass rush statistics since 2017:

Year

QB Sack total

NFL Ranking team sacks

Top QB sack player

Top player QB sack total

# players at/over 5.0 QB sacks

Team record / playoff record

2017

48

4th

Aaron Donald

11

4

11-5/0--1

2018

41

15th

Aaron Donald

20.5

1

13-3/2-1

2019

50

4th

Aaron Donald

12.5

3

9-7

2020

53

2nd

Aaron Donald

13.5

4

10-6/1-1

2021

50

3rd

Aaron Donald

12.5

3

12-5/4-0

2022

38

21st

Leonard Floyd

9.0

3

5-12

2023

41

23rd

Kobie Turner

9.0

4

10-7/0-1

So what can we conclude from the above data table? One fact is the changing role of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the teams' quarterback pressure. He led the team in sacks for five seasons, but that ended with his injury-shortened season in 2022. In 2023, he competed all season long, but the team had a new group of young players, allowing offenses to divert attention to him in pass protection.

But was that truly the case? Per the 2023 ESPN Analytics article that summarized pass rush win rates for defensive linemen. LA Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald did indeed face double teams more than 50 percent of the time (63 percent of the time). But his teammate, nose tackle Kobie Turner, had to fight through two or more blockers 72 percent of the time. And yet, it was Turner who led the Rams in quarterback sacks.