The reaction of some fans to the LA Rams falling to a record of 3-6 after nine games in the 2023 NFL season has been a bit over the top. Not everyone has begun the 'sky is falling,' chant, thankfully. Of course, there is another enclave of fans who are calling for the Rams to fire coaches, release players, and simply start over from scratch in 2024. Honestly, I cannot tell if those fans are being over dramatic for effect, or truly do feel that way.
But for those who may be searching for positive news in the Niagara Falls onslaught of negativity, there are plenty of positive stories developing in the rubble of the LA Rams 2023 NFL season. Two such tales involve young defenders on the Rams' defense who get mentioned occasionally, but the scope and magnitude of their accomplishments are not touted to the extent that their performances so far demand.
A nose for the football
The first, of course, is the better-than-the-brochure play of Rams young nose tackle Kobie Turner. Although a rookie, Turner puts on a consistent and impressive performance on the football field, working hard on every play to stop the runner or bring down the quarterback.
Even in a loss, Turner does not let up. How well did he perform against the Green Bay Packers? Pretty well, I'd say.
Much is made about the LA Rams needing players to help out All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald, but all too few acknowledge that Turner is one player who is doing exactly that. Turner has 18 tackles and 2.0 quarterback sacks in his rookie season as a nose tackle. That is incredible, and will only improve over his NFL career.
Living on the edge
When the LA Rams named Tennessee outside linebacker with the 77th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, 11 other edge rushers were already taken off the board. But after nine games this season, it's Byron Young who leads the pack with 29 tackles and 5.0 quarterback sacks. Just how good is Byron Young? As of November 6, 2023, Byron Young is tied with Carolina Panthers star DE/OLB Brian Burns with 5.0 QB sacks,
Yes, the same Brian Burns that the Rams were willing to trade multiple picks for in 2022.
How well is the third overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft doing? Rookie OLB Will Anderson Jr. has 2.0 sacks and 30 tackles for the Houston Texans. The seventh overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, rookie Tyree Wilson, has just 1.5 sacks and 17 tackles.
It would appear that the LA Rams have chosen wisely, eh?
The trajectory of rookies who compete in the NFL typically start slowiy and accelerate rapidly near the end of their first season and throughout their second season. But the LA Rams are blessed with two defensive standouts who are showing up large and in charge already.
The Rams may not be drafting better. It could simply be that the Rams have giving out more opportunities to rookies this season. Or it could simply mean that with the Rams roster 'reset,' the Rams are paying more attention to fit, maturity, culture, and durability.
Whatever the case, the LA Rams may be 3-6 this season. But don't fall into the trap of believing that this is as good as it gets. Both Kobie Turner and Byron Young will be much improved in 2024. And it takes two or three years for a great draft to show up by pushing an NFL team to the NFL Playoffs.