LA Rams Ernest Jones makes a difference to team’s playoff chances
Can the LA Rams ever find an inside linebacker who can play the run and pass? Someone who just punishes anyone who comes in the middle of the defense? Well, he might have made it to the 2021 NFL Draft. See, the defense focused on the role of the executor, that guy who takes the backs of the line, with tight ends, and a price tag. to wide receivers this year.
So when the Rams picked Ernest Jones of the former South Carolina Gamecock, there were more than a few jaws dropping in the leagues. Jones was a solid prospect, but not as highly rated as the other linebackers in the 2021 draft class. Still, he had one thing going for him that no other prospect had: Rams coach Thomas Brown, lobbied for the young man.
It seems Brown’s opinion carries a lot of weight with the Rams’ organization right now.
Ernest Jones was the first rookie LA Rams inside linebacker selected in the NFL Draft on Day 2 for a very long time. So far, it looks like he’s gaining the team’s trust by valuing him so highly.
The Rams roster light at ILB once again
At the start of the season, there were plenty of Rams with players who had experience as inside linebackers. Thanks to 2020 injuries, seasoned veterans like Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, Kenny Young and even Travin Howard were all competing for playing time. But all four were also in the final year of their contracts. That’s why the LA Rams needed to add a rookie to the mix, and they picked Ernest Jones to become a starting role.
The position cleared up slightly after the Denver Broncos pulled Kiser from the practice squad. This created less competition for Jones, giving him a greater chance to develop.
He was a rotating player until the LA Rams traded former starter Kenny Young, requiring a promotion from rookie to an instant starter. He played well in his debut against the Houston Texans, but he started in the three-game losing streak. But to be fair, most of the efficient runs were aimed at teammate Troy Reeder, who has looked noticeably struggling this season.
Not sure if it’s because their frame is longer and leaner or what, but when the Rams keep Ernest Jones clean he physically moves / looks like Darius Leonard (sorry for the same school!) pic.twitter.com/UyaMSyWDGC
– Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) December 8, 2021
Jones has a natural flow to the post. He seems to have a good instinct for where to be and when to be and uses it to his advantage.
Strong game, but louder and louder
From the moment he arrived we felt strongly positive about Jones’ potential in this defense. More than stats and tackles, Jones brings a fire and passion that is an indispensable but essential ingredient in turning the tide.
His play certainly made an impression on the coaching staff and on head coach Sean McVay in particular. What does McVay think of his ILB rookie? Watch the video at 9:20 am:
“I thought you sensed its reach and length yesterday. He had a great ability to diagnose certain things at the start of downs where he played key to key. I thought he really did a great job using his hands in running fits and then he ended up with a sack. He is an impressive young player who will only get better. I think he’s going to be the cornerstone of our team. – by head coach Sean McVay in portraying ILB rookie Ernest Jones
Now we understand that skeptics who like to insert the ‘but that was only the Jacksonville Jaguars in the comments section will do it once again. But for a starting inside linebacker who just played his 307th defensive snap and got his fourth start in the NFL, it was incredibly valuable playing time and experience.
Jones learns and delivers, on the football field. In fact, its playing is already far more impressive than that of any previous ILB. And he’s getting better.
Winning the playoffs isn’t so much about elite players as it is improving fair and good players into something pretty special. Right now Jones is one of those players who is starting to get hot for the team. Hopefully this passionate game can prove to be a difference factor in leading this team to the playoffs.