For the 2018 Los Angeles Rams, the linebackers will hold the keys for the season… – Turf Show Times


I lose my keys all the time. It usually happens at the wrong time too. But you need the damn things, and they like to hide in a way that makes you think they do it on purpose? Like the other day… I KNOW I’d put them on my desk when I came in the night before, yet they somehow found their way into the refrigerator?

Keys are great. They unlock things, and even make my dusty, trusty Yugo rumble to life on occasion… And they jingle!

Looking at the L.A. Rams defensive roster – while I think of where I left my keys – got me thinking: What will the new-look Rams defense be like this season? I glanced down the roster. Defensive line? Check! Filled will the likes of Aaron Donald, a guys named Suh, and an unsung star in Michael Brockers. I almost got a bit giddy when I looked at the secondary roster. Seriously, a little drool tried to escape the corner of my mouth as I read names like Peters, Talib, Joyner, Johnson… Check!

My eyebrows went a bit wonky when I studied the list of linebackers. With 12 linebackers on the current training camp roster, I looked a bit deeper at their collective game stats. A grand total of 16.5 NFL quarterback sacks among the lot of them? Eeeek! Mark Barron leads the pack with 8 sacks, so if I whip out my calculator – then call the 11 year old math wunderkind down the street to show me how to turn it on, and what the little number buttons do – it looks like remaining 11 linebackers have a grand total of 8.5 sacks between them… I have a head ache…

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has a historically good record of bringing the best out of seeming no-name linebackers. He’ll have his work cut out for him this season, especially since his past defenses have always had a tackling machine in the middle. Inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense is the key to success or failure. In Denver, Phillips had Todd Davis, a 6’1”, 230 lbs undrafted free agent. Beside him, he has Brandon Marshal, a 7th round draft pick. When on the field, each is good for between 80 to 110 tackles a year based on their career stats. Interestingly, neither of them was much of a pass rushing threat, with 1.5 sacks for Davis, and 6 sacks for Marshall during their careers in Denver…

I mention the Denver comparison, because I think I know where this Rams linebacker crew is headed. In Denver, Marshal and Davis spend a great deal of time in pass coverage when they aren’t defending the run. Rushing the quarterback is left to some guy named Von Miller?

The Rams don’t possess a pure pass rushing savant like Miller, nor do they have anyone who’s racked up huge tackle numbers in a given season. The Alec Ogletree tackling numbers will need to come from somewhere, right? Then there’s the experience thing…

Seven of the 12 linebackers on the Rams roster have 2 years or less in the NFL experience category. Bryce Hager has been a special teams standout for the Rams the last four season, and will be sliding into more playing time at left inside linebacker.

The question that come to my mind is: How did my keys wind up in my shower? Er, uh… No, the question that REALLY comes to mind is: How will Wade Phillips turn the keys on this linebacker crew, so the Rams defense can unlock their potential, and roar down the 2018 NFL season road…

Hit me up in the comments with your thoughts, and maybe even a lost key story…

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