I don't know that many NFL fans talk much about the job that LA Rams inside linebacker Ernest Jones is doing so far in the 2023 NFL season. That could be a bad thing, in that nobody notices the fact that he is head and shoulders better than any inside linebacker who began in the LA Rams organization at the position since Cory Littleton.
It could also be a good thing. NFL fans tend to notice underperforming players more so than players who are playing to their full potential. This year, Ernest Jones has played in eight games, has 75 tackles, one quarterback sack, nine tackles for a loss, and best of all, has only allowed 61.9 percent of passes thrown at his receiver to find their mark.
The Rams defense is, in the mind of many fans, is outperforming expectations this season. While some of that can be attributed to the fact that the Rams secondary has shown remarkable resiliency, the lion's share of a great defense is great play from the inside linebacker. Right now, the Rams are getting first class production out of Ernest Jones.
Until Week 9, that is.
Without Ernest Jones anchoring the Rams' defense, who will need to step up? His teammate, Christian Rozeboom, will likely be counted on to pick up some of the slack. And if the pattern of counting on former Rams players to fill in the gaps applies to the inside linebacker role, then the Rams will likely be sliding former Rams ILB Troy Reeder into a starting role for Week 9. So far, Reeder's role has been entirely steeped in special teams play.
Another option for the Rams to file Jones' vacancy is Jake Hummel. While Hummel has played primarily on special teams, he has had some action on the Rams' defense. Hummel is in his second season, and if the Rams are committed to improving for the 2024 NFL season, this could be a perfect opportunity for Hummel to step up.
Ernest Jones is going to be a huge loss in Week 9. But challenges create new opportunities. How will the Rams handle the challenges of Week 9? Stay tuned . . .