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Despite going backwards, Rams are in good place defensively

Who do the Rams have left in place around Aaron Donald?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an uncertain time for the Los Angeles Rams. Their offseason already got off to a shocking start, albeit not one that’ll make the fanbase happy after parting ways with All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Despite the expensive price tag Wagner carried, I would argue this was not a move that had to be made. Maybe I’m simply holding on to what was or maybe I just wanted to see LA give him another chance at a ring. Besides that move, there’s ongoing talk as to whether Jalen Ramsey is on the way out. I swear for a team that was looking to “run it back” a year ago, I was expecting more blockbuster moves this time around. Wasn’t sure I had to stomach moves that will benefit other teams. Guess that’s the new reality for these Rams.

With two of the “big three” on defense seemingly on the way out, all hope would seem lost wouldn’t it. Wouldn’t it?

Since I’m an optimist (perhaps a foolish one at that), I don’t believe the Rams are inevitably heading back to the pre-glory days, aka the Jeff Fisher era. Well, I don’t see them on that path yet. The reason being is that I see this team being able to overcome all these odds and personnel loss. Part of this has to do with the coaching of Raheem Morris.

Morris is someone who most Rams fans either tolerate or love to hate. There’s absolutely zero in-between on the matter. Fact is, the guy can coach which is why he was one of the finalists for the Colts head coaching job.

In his first campaign with Tampa Bay in 2009, the Bucs went 3-13. Not much was expected from them the following season even with their youth infusion. The Bucs shattered expectations, improving by seven wins to finish 10-6, narrowly missing the playoffs in a loaded NFC that year.

So again, think about that the next time anyone says “Raheem Morris can’t coach to save his life”. The guy coached the Rams during a winless November in ‘21 and helped the defense get through a gauntlet in that year’s playoffs en route to a Super Bowl title. If he coached a bunch of rookies to a winning record in his second season as a head coach, who’s to say he can’t lead a tough defense loaded with youngsters as a defensive coordinator?

The signature of LA on defense was how hard they played in every game regardless of nagging injuries all across the unit. Remember the Chiefs game? Or more infamously known as the Bryce Perkins show, minus the whole show part.

LA was missing Matthew Stafford, their top two wide receivers and two starting offensive linemen. It showed as the offense truly was anemic, unable to crack 200 yards of total offense. Yet by some miracle from the heavens, the Rams kept it a game through the fourth quarter and held a powerful KC offense to just 26 points.

Against the Raiders, the defense could’ve given up after falling behind 16-3 to a Raiders squad that came into SoFi Stadium on fire. Instead, they put on a show. Either that or Josh McDaniels really is that bad at his job. I’m just going to give credit to the D and move on.

No defense would be what it is without promising players which the Rams have. Aaron Donald might be the only star veteran left should Ramsey and Floyd be forced out the door next. Ernest Jones had a year working aside Bobby Wagner and this is his opportunity to prove he soaked in all he could from the future Hall of Famer.

Cobie Durant had flashed as well and even led the NFL in interception return yardage. All while starting only one game all year. Similar to Jones, Durant is in a cornerback room with a potential HOFer in Ramsey. With his athleticism, fans are praying for him to have picked up a few pointers from Jalen.

All told, a Rams defense that loses Wagner, Ramsey, and Floyd, could still have an interesting core on to continue building through the draft: Durant, Jones, late-season breakout Michael Hoecht, and Derion Kendrick to begin; plus the team could be in better position now to re-sign Greg Gaines and/or A’Shawn Robinson, Nick Scott; and maybe more time invested in Bobby Brown III, Jonah Williams, Larrell Murchison, Keir Thomas, Jordan Fuller, Russ Yeast, Robert Rochell, and Quentin Lake will turn into one or two diamonds from the rough.

It’s hard to keep the faith in an organization after a lost campaign and a tough start to the offseason. Pressure is mounting on the Rams in their hopes of returning to contention. Last season was an outlier for the team as a whole and next year holds slim promise defensively. The ball is in LA’s court now. Time to see what they got up their sleeve next.