The heart of the Rams defense is still beating strong
There really is not a lot of fuss or accolades being made about the way LA Rams inside linebacker Ernest Jones has been handling the workload of running the control center of this Rams defense. Perhaps that is just how he wants it. In any event, he has truly demonstrated the ability to be a swiss-army knife in this Rams defense in 2023.
Much like his Jedi Knight mentor from 2022, All-Pro ILB Bobby Wagner, Jones as the ability to do anything and everything necessary in this Rams defense to make plays. He has 132 tackles, far and away leading the team in that category. He also has 13 tackles for a loss, nearly three times as often as his previous two seasons combined. And he has done it all on 860 defensive snaps.
Where Jones has made huge strides this season is pass defense, and that includes all facets of defending passes. Jones has only allowed 27 of 41 passes intended for his receiver to find the mark, a completion rate of just 65.9 percent. While he does not yet have an interception this season, he has deflected six passes so far. And he's done it all in just 14 games.
But he has been far more active in the Rams pass rush of late as well. He has gotten at least one quarterback sack in each of the Rams three games, and has 4.5 quarterback sacks on the year. He has five quarterback hits this season.
Pro Football Focus is very impressed and has awarded Jones a highly regarded grade of 81.5 for his efforts this season. That is a higher grade than former Rams ILB Cory Littleton earned in his Pro Bowl season. Arguably, Ernest Jones could be argued to be included in any discussions about the Rams' Top-15 Greatest Linebackers of All Time.
Jones could solidify his place among the Rams best linebackers by finishing off the 2023 NFL season with huge performances. He is ideally suited to get after the quarterback this week. And he has been very effective when sent in to blitz. Could his pass rush be the deciding factor in Week 17?