When it comes to LA Rams OLB, Michael Hoecht has it covered, somewhat

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Brock Purdy, Michael Hoecht
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Brock Purdy, Michael Hoecht / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

There are those who don't buy into the LA Rams playing former defensive tackle Michael Hoecht as an outside linebacker in 2023, and they may be correct. In a limited pass rush role in 2022, Hoecht was able to generate five quarterback sacks as he spiced up the Rams' bland pass rush. This year, in 2023, Hoecht is not getting that same pressure on the quarterback. He has nine tackles and has only 0.5 quarterback sacks in two games.

And that's all fans need to know to call for an end to the 'experiment'

But there is more to it than that. After all, veteran Michael Hoecht is as much of a rookie as anyone when it comes to the outside linebacker position, and he is just starting to get some traction at playing the position. Rather than the simpler role of a defensive lineman who stuffs the run and pressure the quarterback, Hoecht's edge role requires him to rush the quarterback, set the edge, turn all plays inward, shed blockers, and tackle ball carriers.

So far, rushing the passer seems to be the least frequent of his roles.

Have some patience over Hoecht

With a former down defensive lineman in pass coverage and setting the edge, Hoecht all but has a bullseye painted on his back when it comes to opposing offensive coordinators. And so far, his numbers suggest that he is struggling.

In 99 defensive snaps, he has nine tackle and 0.5 QB sacks. But he also has been targeted five times in pass plays, allowing all five to find their target. And of the nine tackles made, he has missed three tackles, which is an alarming missed tackle rate of 25 percent.

But let's look at the brighter picture. Of those five completions, they have resulted in 41 yards, or an average of just 8.2 yards per completion. Of that, 2.6 yards were through the air, and 5.7 yards came after the catch. While that has to be improved, and will be, it suggests that the Rams are keeping those plays in check.

While he hasn't exactly had the opportunity to pin his ears back and launch at the quarterback will everything he's got, he not only has 0.5 quarterback sacks, but he also has two quarterback hits and one quarterback pressure to his credit too.

Young players and those players who are learning new NFL positions are not exactly plug and play types of players. It's a complex and erratic process of trial and error. So far, Hoecht has been taking his lumps in the error department.

Fans were too quick to rule out LA Rams WR Tutu Atwell, and suddenly he has caught 13 of 17 passes this year for 196 yards and 12 first downs. Coaches see coachability and effort. Fans see game production. While they will eventually align, they do not always match early in an NFL player's career.

I think that it will all fall into place for him at some point this season. Until then, Michael Hoecht has it covered, somewhat