The defense could be the difference-maker for Rams this season

© Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline - Los Angeles Rams defensive back Darious Williams (31) picks off Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor during a joint practice between the two teams on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.

IRVINE, CA (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Rams having a better defense than the one that took them on their Super Bowl trip in February could be a very scary thought for the rest of the NFL.

That is a real possibility when you consider that ballhawk safety Eric Weddle, lockdown corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will be picking up the remains of what’s left of an offensive opponent once the Rams’ front seven get to finish taking them apart.

It is almost unfair that defensive end Michael Brockers and linebackers Clay Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr. will have the luxury to playoff Aaron Donald, creating possible mismatches in favor of the Rams defensive unit. That means trouble for everyone. The Rams had a solid defense during the 2018 NFL season.

© Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline – Joint practice between Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers get after one another on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.

When you have the top sack master in the NFL in Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks, you’re bound to be pretty good on the defensive side of the ball.

The Rams parlayed that strength to the NFC title and a Super Bowl appearance against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Can history repeat itself for the Rams? It may, but there are a lot of immeasurable points that go into a Super Bowl run for an NFL team.

A couple of those ingredients include having a healthy ballclub by the time the postseason rolls around and having a squad capable of stopping anything a little more than a bucket of water. In going up against the Los Angeles Chargers, their soon-to-be housing buddies at the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, in two scrimmages, the Rams’ D looked pretty stout.

They can go ahead and thank Donald for that. An offensive lineman lining up to go against Donald, whether he’s your teammate or not, will cause an individual to sink or swim when you engage in smashmouth football with him.

For the guys going against Donald daily that could be both a good and bad thing.

© Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline – The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers in action during a joint practice on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.

“You have to temper your expectations when you’re trying to block Aaron Donald, whether you have a single blocker or a double team,” said Rams run game coordinator Aaron Kromer. “He’s so good that he can make you lose confidence. That’s the one thing that everybody has worked together to say, ‘Listen, people try to double team this guy and they don’t get it done.’ So, if you don’t block him every time, if you block him once, you feel good about it.”

Practice is practice, but it is also a good gauge of where a player or team is at a particular point during training camp. If the second scrimmage against the Chargers is any indication, Rams head coach Sean McVay won’t have to worry too much about how that side of the ball will be able to flex their muscles against opposing offenses.

The Rams’ D picked off three passes off Chargers backup quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Cardale Jones and McVay’s unit appear to be even more formidable than last season when they were ranked No. 19 in overall team defense. One thing is for sure, they were certainly animated in going up against that high-powered offense of the Chargers.

© Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline – Los Angeles Rams defensive backs Aqib Talib (21) and John Johnson (43) confer during a joint practice with the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.

“I didn’t get a chance (to see the defense) because we were going at the same time,” McVay said. “I really kind of was just peeking over there, really seeing, so I can’t wait to dive into the tape and see how our defense did. It sounds like they did a lot of really good things, but I thought the Chargers’ defense came out ready to go and it was a good, competitive day again, just like it was on Thursday, so we were pleased with the effort today.”

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was quick to give the Rams defense kudos after the joint practice between the two teams concluded on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“This team was in the Super Bowl last year,” Rivers said. “We played them in the regular season…It was a little a closer game than maybe the score showed. But it’s a really good defense. It’s a great challenge for us, and not only is the competition good, I think it’s great for us, too. You get some different looks defensively that you haven’t gotten, you to run some plays that maybe you haven’t run in this camp. So, you see some more things as you get closer to Week 1. It was good. Man, that’s a heck of a group over there. It’s always a challenge going against them.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1388 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.

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