What A’Shawn Robinson’s Presence Will Bring To The Rams
A’Shawn Robinson was originally brought on to the Rams roster to fill the void left by the departure of Michael Brockers. Brockers had signed with the Ravens, but that was nixed and then Brockers was back on the Rams. So the Rams had the rare chance to have their cake and eat it too.
Some four months later, Robinson was diagnosed with a cardiovascular issue and it would sideline him for an undetermined amount of time. Which wasn’t a big deal, with Brockers back and Aaron Donald still doing what he does, the d-line could afford to be without the 6’4, 330-pound tackle. And they have been playing well. Both the Rams run and pass defenses are in the top 10 of the league and they are the third-ranked defense in expected points added (EPA) allowed per play. Donald is on track to tally 18-20 sacks this season and Morgan Fox, Greg Gaines, and Sebastian Joseph have been solid rotation players.
But, as of this week, the Rams have activated Robinson, and is expected to play against the Dolphins. So the addition of Robinson is the icing on that cake.
To get a sense of what Robinson’s presence brings to the table, look no further than Michael Brockers. They are both big, tall, long, and athletic. They both use their size to dominate offensive linemen, but they can also use their athleticism and length to corral running backs. Statistically, they both affect the game in similar ways. Neither is the type of lineman that racks up a bunch of sacks, but they are quality tacklers. Over his career, Brockers averages 43 tackles a season. Robinson has also averaged 43. It’s no wonder why the Rams pegged him as Brockers replacement.
Robinson’s chief contribution will be stopping the run. His speed gets him from sideline to sideline quickly and his length shortens that distance significantly. His wingspan is nearly seven feet. It’s hard for backs to escape his grasp.
While the Rams have limited teams to 100.4 yards per game on the ground, they have struggled situationally. They are ranked 18th in run defense DVOA. That is where Robinson’s presence will be felt the most. And that presence couldn’t come at a better time. The average DVOA of the rushing offenses the Rams have faced so far is -15.6. Going forward the average DVOA -2.0.
Robinson’s presence will be felt in the pass rush as well. He isn’t a sacking machine, but he does get in the QB’s face. In 2018, he forced 10 pressures and that was on a Lions team that didn’t have Aaron Donald on it. With Donald attracting so much attention, Robinson will get more space to get into the backfield. His height also gives him the distinct ability to tip passes. He has 16 pass deflections in four seasons.
Robinson also has forced three fumbles in the last three seasons. He also has a blocked field goal from his days at Alabama. He was able to get to the ball because he hurdled over the center!
In his last season with Detroit, Robinson played 46% of their defensive snaps. The Rams linemen have been in heavy rotation this season. With Fox getting 39%, Joseph 37%, and Gains with 21% of the snaps. Sean McVay has an embarrassment of riches on his hands. According to McVay, they are going to work him into the rotation and see where he fits best.
“With all those guys,” McVay said, “You can’t have enough big bodies that have some position flex across the interior part of your front and that’s what he’ll reflect for us. It’ll be good to just get him out there and like anything else, kind of carve that role out for yourself based on how you perform. But his versatility, being able to play those interior spots all across the line is something we feel like can be a real positive.”
That versatility will help Robinson maximize his playing time. He, of course, could sub in for Brockers, but he could also fill in for Donald, what little time he is off the field. Donald has only sat out 68 of the 463 defensive snaps. Robinson will most likely get most of his playing time at nose guard.
Ultimately, Robinson’s presence will elevate this defense line from very good to shut down. He will not only shore up loose ends but is a bonafide playmaker. As McVay put it, you can’t have too many big bodies.