Is the 2020 Rams Defense More Complete than the 2018 Defense?

Rams Defense
Dec 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) scrambles under pressure from St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Is the 2020 Rams Defense More Complete than the 2018 Defense?

The Los Angeles Rams team in 2018 started the season on an eight-game winning streak and finished 13-3 in the regular season. The team in 2020 has started the season 4-1 thus far with a hard schedule left to play.

The 2018 team beat the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints on the way to a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

Not sure how the 2020 team will do this season, but thus far, there is a lot of promise, and Rams fans should be optimistic about their ability to win games down the line.

The team in 2018 was a very good team defensively and they had many key pieces that helped them reach the final game. But the team was ranked No. 19 in the NFL in yards allowed per game, so they weren’t one of the best defenses.

The team in 2020 has some of the same players, and at 4-1, the defense is currently ranked fourth in the NFL with 304.2 yards allowed per game.

From 2018 to 2020, Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald are still on the defensive line with Sebastian Joseph-Day at nose tackle instead of Ndamukong Suh.

Samson Ebukam is the only linebacker still on the field where Cory Littleton and Donte Fowler Jr. are replaced by Micah Kiser and Leonard Floyd.

John Johnson III is the lone defensive back still on the field where he played with Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and he now plays alongside Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill. Johnson also has Taylor Rapp next to him instead of LaMarcus Joyner.

Side-by-side, the statistics from both team’s first five games looks similar with the advantage going to the 2020 team in sacks, fumbles, and total tackles.

The team from top to bottom doesn’t have as many Pro Bowl players on defense in 2020, but they have the players that made a difference in 2018 with two years more experience. The 2018 Rams defense had slightly more depth, and they had the legendary defensive coach Wade Phillips.

Many of the same names are always involved in plays this season — Brockers, Donald, Johnson, and Ramsey. Of the current defense’s 20 sacks, Donald has seven and a half and Brockers has two.

Two backups that have played tons of snaps for the Rams are Darious Williams and free safety Jordan Fuller. Williams has two interceptions in five games and has been playing a lot of fourth-quarter snaps.

Unfortunately, the Rams have some injuries on defense. Fuller was placed on Injured Reserve with a right shoulder and neck injury, linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is out four-to-six weeks for surgery on his elbow, and Kiser was limited in practice before Week 6’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

Linebacker Kenny Young (knee), Troy Hill (ankle), and Brockers (toe) were each limited in practice in some way last week so there may be some lingering issues down the line.

Before the season, Rams Wire predicts Ramsey will be on the first-team All-Pro this season, rookie safety Terrell Burgess will be the team’s best nickel defender, Kiser will be the only inside linebacker to play more than a third of the defensive snaps, Johnson will make the Pro Bowl, Donald will be the only Rams player with over six sacks, which he has already, and the defense will finish in the top ten.

Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports predicted that rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis will be in the running for defensive player of the year.

Regardless of predictions and injuries, it is safe to say the 2020 defense is more complete than the defense in 2018. Rams fans are hoping the defense will help the team reach the Super Bowl again but unlike 2018, win it.