American Football

Top Rams players from the 2022 season, No. 12: Ernest Jones


NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Second year pro has been catalyst for Rams run defense

The 2022 Los Angeles Rams season featured a lot of changing parts. Franchise cornerstone Andrew Whitworth retired after the Super Bowl. 2021 mid-season trade acquisition, Von Miller, went east and joined the Buffalo Bills. Robert Woods was traded to the Tennessee Titans. And Odell Beckham Jr went unsigned as he recovered from an ACL tear. From Week 1, the Rams started losing starters to injuries. This forced new names into more prominent roles.

In continuing the countdown list of the 2022 Los Angeles Rams top 15 individual performers, let’s take a quick look first at the current list.

#15 – Van Jefferson, WR

#14 – Tutu Atwell, WR

#13 – Matthew Stafford, QB

The next entry on the list finally comes from the defensive side of the ball.

#12 – Ernest Jones, ILB

Ernest Jones has been a serviceable piece in the Rams defense over the last two years and continued to prove that he has been one of Les Snead’s better draft finds in recent years. After the Super Bowl, Jones was expected to be the featured inside linebacker. However, the Rams signed Bobby Wagner to a five-year deal, indicating that Ernest Jones would be his sidekick.

In 2022, Ernest Jones was a starter, but his snap counts constantly fluctuated based on the defense matching the offenses’ packages. The glaring issue for Jones this year was that he did not have many splash plays this year. In 17 games, Jones had four tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one forced fumble, and one interception. In comparison, for Super Bowl LVI Jones had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, one sack, and one pass defensed.

Despite the lack of “extra” production, Jones was a steady man in the middle defending the run. The Rams defense did not allow a 100-yard rusher in 15 of the 17 games.

His best game was in Week 1 against Buffalo, where he earned a 93.8 run defense grade against the Bills. He also forced a fumble on James Cook.

Though his play was lukewarm at times, Jones was still one of the better players on the team. He finished with a PFF grade of 62.7 (47th/84 ILBs). I do not believe Raheem Morris optimized his talent like he did in 2021. Jones blitzed more frequently at the end of 2021 and was used more in pass coverage in 2022. Enhancing his coverage skills or using him more in blitz packages should result in more splash plays. He’s a very athletic linebacker as evidenced by his Super Bowl performance and the interception versus the Raiders.

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