The Rams 2017 campaign offers plenty of excitement, uncertainty and maybe you can argue some predictability. As for excitement, the Rams have brought in almost an entirely new coaching staff, new players via free agency and some intriguing rookies via the NFL draft and undrafted free agency. The uncertainty lies with the fact the Rams as every year have some quality talent on paper, but will need to put it all together on the field, especially with the amount of youth they boast. Finally the predictability in a sense comes from the likes of Aaron Donald who is the Rams best player and has been the arguably the most consistently dominant player over the last two-to-three years. With all of that being said let’s cut to the chase and take a look at three storylines that will need to be in your head this season.
The interesting dynamic that is, LaMarcus Joyner at Free safety
LaMarcus Joyner has been one of the best slot cornerbacks in football as of late. He struggled to find his rhythm early on in his career, but it appears he has now found it and has gone off and running with his role. Now, with the new regime in order, the coaches identify the best fit for Joyner being at Free safety. Joyner has been considered “too small” to play that role, but it seems as though some have quickly forgotten about one of the more dominant players in the league that plays that same position Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu and Joyner are almost identical in size. Joyner at 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds while Mathieu is at 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds.
Joyner joins emerging secret superstar safety Maurice Alexander in the back of the secondary in what could be a formidable duo. Joyner is still looking for his first career NFL interception, but with that aside he should translate well to the position and team up well with Alexander as two guys that can truly deliver a punishing blow to the ball-carrier. Joyner may not end up working out at the position, but Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is not going to go down without trying. That is why Joyner and his position change to Free safety needs to be closely monitored, because he could truly flourish in that new role or completely flop. We don’t know.
The possibility of Wade Phillips defense awakening 2013 Robert Quinn
Wow, just the thought of number 94 racking up almost 20 sacks again on top of what players like Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Dominique Easley, Connor Barwin, Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are capable of should send chills down any NFC West rival fans spine. Quinn is what one could and should call the x-factor of the defense and possibly even the season. If the Rams had 2013 Robert Quinn on the team last year they probably win seven or maybe even eight games. Is that crazy to think? A team that went 4-12 would have won three or four more games if they had one player explode? Not if you put everything into perspective. Last year, the Rams were tied for 21st in team forced fumbles with only 13! Quinn started off well, but slowed down after a back injury he suffered during one of the games. He only ended up playing nine games that season so right off the bat he missed seven games.
Quinn has a whopping 18 forced fumbles in his career. Putting that really into perspective, Von Miller who is one, if not the best pass rusher in the NFL and he has 19. Both came from the 2011 NFL Draft, but somehow Miller, who is a sack artist only has one more forced fumble than Quinn. Now, Von still has nearly 20 more sacks than Quinn, but he’s also played in eight more games and the forced fumbles are really the most important thing when your team can’t score and that was the case for the Rams last season. Since the star of the Rams defense Aaron Donald as great as he is doesn’t create turnovers, Quinn’s ability to turn the ball over and even score touchdowns off of turnovers is a huge deal and can account for some points that the offense is unable to produce.
If Quinn returns to his old dominance the Rams will be one step closer to their first playoff berth since 2004.
Kayvon Webster setting himself up to be the future number one cornerback of the Rams
Kayvon Webster left Denver to join his Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in Los Angeles. There is a chance now that with the increased workload and assumed starting job, Webster could be in for a breakout season. Webster according to the Rams PR staff’s release is slated as a starting cornerback next to Trumaine Johnson. The uncertainty of Johnson’s future in Los Angeles and the lack of negotiating or better yet desire to negotiate a long term deal could leave Webster as the man the Rams look to build off of at the position moving forward. He signed a two-year deal, but there is a very good chance if Webster proves himself in this role the Rams would likely extend his contract.
There are still others waiting behind Webster, one of them happens to be a player that is Hungry to reclaim the starting role he lost due to injury and that is former sixth-round pick E.J. Gaines. Gaines is likely vying for a starting spot as it appears his roster spot as a whole is safe judging by the way the coaches have talked about him and mainly the Head coach Sean McVay.
If Webster fends off Gaines and claims the starting job for the 2017 season he could be on a mission to prove almost everyone that he should have been starting all of those years he was overlooked in Denver.
What are your defensive storylines that aren’t being talked about enough in your opinion? Let us know! We will have an offensive version of this article as well in the near future. Thanks for reading!