Can LA Rams DL Coach Eric Henderson pull another rabbit out of a hat?

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Eric henderson
Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Eric henderson / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The LA Rams have one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL, Coach Eric Henderson, and they know it. You might think that level of excellence would come with perks, like ensuring that Coach Henny gets the lion's share of free agency signings and top draft picks. But that has not been the case for the LA Rams' way of constructing their defensive line, and that is what makes Coach Henny so incredibly valuable for the LA Rams football team.

Like many position groups, the Rams have to leverage their elite players on the payroll by ensuring an abundance of inexpensive rookie talent. The Rams are no exception to the rule, as the team continues to pay All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald among the top paid players at his position. That means that there is not much to go around for the other players.

But that does not mean that Aaron Donald needn't be pushed hard. He was instrumental in the Rams' hiring of Coach Henderson in 2019, with an expectation that he would be pushed hard to become the best NFL player he could become. We knew that the LA Rams had a special DL group in 2021, the year that the team would win Super Bowl LVI. You could tell by the energy of the entire group, and the fact that they were all hand-picked by Coach Henny to deliver.

Fast forward to 2023 and we have less certainty about the LA Rams defensive line this year. So what do we know?

DAWG: Discipline, Attitude, Work Ethic, Grit

DAWGWORK still rules the Rams' defensive line. That is the LA Rams' defensive mantra, a simple but incredibly powerful message that is the center of everything the LA Rams defensive front is all about. Okay, but isn't that like a corporate mission statement? A plaque on a wall with a catchy buzz phrase? Not at all, as this is a message that Coach Henny not only delivers to his players daily but that he lives and shows by example.

Coach Henderson has his priorities straight. He knows how to motivate players, and how that starts with passion and loyalty. That integrity of being true to his message also makes him a powerful motivational speaker, which he proved in this speech to the SC Gamecocks. He speaks from the heart, and his words carry a great deal of meaning and importance as a result.

But what of 2023? How can an NFL coach, even one as accomplished as Coach Henderson, be expected to deliver with a cast of rookies? Ah, but that is not how the Rams' defensive line roster works. You see, the LA Rams not only return Aaron Donald, but also return a number of key contributors from last season, like DL Marquise Copeland, Bobby Brown III, and Larrell Murchison.

Due to injuries, they all had the chance to compete in live NFL action, and play meaningful snaps, for the Rams. Now they are the next wave of veterans who must lead by example for rookie DT Kobie Turner, DL Desjuan Johnson, and DL Taron Vincent, as well as returning players like DE Jonah Williams, DET.J. Carter, and DE Earnest Brown IV,

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Can LA Rams DL Coach Eric Henderson pull another rabbit out of a hat? I think so, yes. Coach Henny expects every player he coaches to compete at their best. The results were there in 2022 when even newly arrived players delivered very quickly. And if you have listened to his motivational speeches, it makes complete sense. After all, he is a man who is awfully hard to say no to.