To get a realistic sense of the LA Rams defensive potential for the upcoming 2023 NFL season, perhaps we need tp adjust the way we view the Rams roster for the upcoming NFL season. After all, the Rams depth chart at the beginning of the 2022 NFL season looks nothing like the projected 2023 depth chart. But by the team the 2022 season ended, many of the Rams key defensive contributors were benched with injuries.
It was not a very impressive defense at the end of the 2022 NFL season. And that's were the LA Rams roster picks up for the 2023 NFL season. Just check out this quick and dirty Rams depth chart assessment:
By the end of the 2022 NFL season, the LA Rams starting defense was:
DL: Marquise Copeland, Earnest Brown IV, Jonah Williams
LB: Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, Ernest Jones, Michael Hoecht
DB: Jalen Ramsey, Taylor Rapp, Quentin Lake, Troy Hill
Now compare that to the expected starting defense to open the 2023 NFL season. Where we expect the Rams to be upgraded, we will bold the name. Where we expect the Rams to have downgraded, we will have the player's name in italics.
DL: Kobie Turner, Bobby Brown III, Aaron Donald
LB: Byron Jones, Ernest Jones, Christian Roseboom, Michael Hoecht*
DB: Tre Tomlinson/Robert Rochell, Jordan Fuller, Quentin Lake, Cobie Durant
In comparing the two defenses, the Rams defense does not seem noticeably worse that which ended the 2022 NFL season. And the Rams defense ended the 2022 NFL season with a 19-16 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Rams will certainly miss the play of veteran outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, inside linebacker Bobby Wagner, and defensive back Jalen Ramsey. But the defense will welcome back a healthy DL Aaron Donald and DB Jordan Fuller, more experienced play from OLB Michael Hoecht, NT Bobby Brown III, and DB Cobie Durant. And even when and where the Rams' defense struggles, I have every confidence in the positional coaches to expect quick and effective adjustments to be made.
Even as the Rams defense wilted to injuries, the team allowed just 157 points over the last seven games, four of which were against NFL playoff teams. That averages out to just 22.4 points per game. Although the Rams record was just 2-5 over that period, the offense was only able to score 139 points over the period, or just 19.9 points per game. Surprisingly, that includes the 51 point outburst scored against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day.
If the Rams offense can score points this season, there are plenty of reasons to expect some success this year. So many expect the Rams defense to blow over like a house of cards in 2023. But if that is the case, wouldn't that have happened in 2022 already?