THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — On the Los Angeles Rams’ Tremendous Bowl parade in February, All-Professional defensive sort out Aaron Donald stood on the podium to echo coach Sean McVay’s “run it again” chant.
“We constructed a superteam,” Donald mentioned on the parade. “We’re gonna carry a superteam again! Why not run it again?”
And whereas the Rams made positive they saved their core group of gamers underneath contract for the foreseeable future by transforming Donald’s contract and signing quarterback Matthew Stafford and broad receiver Cooper Kupp to contract extensions, the protection will look a bit totally different than in Tremendous Bowl LVI.
Los Angeles hoped it might carry again exterior linebacker Von Miller, but it surely could not compete with the six-year, $120 million contract he bought from the Buffalo Payments. As an alternative of on the lookout for one other pass-rusher, the Rams regarded so as to add high quality in a distinct linebacker place with future Corridor of Fame inside linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Whereas Wagner and Miller are clearly not straight swaps when it comes to place or talent set — Miller is a pass-rusher with 115.5 sacks, and Wagner is a tackling machine who has averaged 138.3 per season in his 10-year profession, together with a career-high 170 final season with the Seattle Seahawks — the Rams as soon as once more added a championship-winning veteran who will carry management to a roster that misplaced a number of key gamers to retirement or free company since that Tremendous Bowl victory.
Rookie Ernest Jones performed an enormous half at center linebacker for the Rams en path to the championship, so it did appear to be an odd match for Wagner in Los Angeles. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris mentioned Wagner, who ought to begin alongside Jones, remains to be “a kind of guys that may play each single down.” Morris mentioned the Rams are engaged on what including Wagner means for the protection, however that “all these issues will play themselves out as you get into the season and also you begin sport planning.”
“He is definitely a man that may go on the market all three downs and play each single snap of the season, and it would not shock me one bit if he was in a position to do this,” Morris mentioned.
McVay mentioned he seen that Wagner appeared “actually snug” through the spring set up of the Rams’ protection, saying, “It is nonetheless soccer on the finish of the day, and he is bought such a seamless manner of having the ability to construct these relationships and he is such a likable man.”
“He is actually a pleasure to speak to, to speak the protection to,” Morris mentioned. “Inform him the whys, the whats, the wheres, the hows. After which to get some enter from him additionally. He does a fantastic job. He is been on this league for a very long time and has been a fantastic presence on command and management, so I study stuff from him day by day as properly. So I am actually enthusiastic about working with him.”
Throughout minicamp, Kupp talked about how “daunting” the protection is, one thing he mentioned will make him higher as a result of he goes up in opposition to the unit day by day in observe. The protection has an elite participant on each stage: Donald, Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“If you discuss who I imagine are three guys which can be both locked themselves as Corridor of Famers or on monitor to take action,” Kupp mentioned. “And that is an unimaginable factor to have on every stage of that protection and the management that they’ve. … It is a daunting factor. I am glad it is simply observe after which we get to go in opposition to it and observe in opposition to it, and it’ll make issues a little bit bit simpler for us.”
The Rams ranked fourth in Soccer Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA final season — third in opposition to the move and tenth in opposition to the run. There may be little room for enchancment. With Wagner, although, the perfect is likely to be but to come back for the Los Angeles protection.
“If you’ve bought that form of expertise all throughout the board on all ranges,” Kupp added, “and you have to embrace Flo [outside linebacker Leonard Floyd] in that blend and a few of the different guys which have performed plenty of soccer for us. It is simply actually enjoyable to be round. It is actually enjoyable to get the grasp and the understanding on how we wish to do issues and the way we transfer ahead each single day. In order that’s extraordinarily enjoyable to be round.”