Suddenly, one question that has sprouted involving the Los Angeles Rams: How do the Rams handle the Bobby Brown III suspension moving forward?
Two more questions: Do the Super Bowl champs roll with who they have now on the roster? Or do the Rams dip back into the free agent market and see who can come in at a reasonable value and help fill some needed depth?
Brown, a fourth rounder from the 2021 NFL Draft, was projected to battle for the open nose tackle spot vacated by Sebastian Joseph-Day, who signed with the Chargers and reunited with his former defensive coordinator on the Rams Brandon Staley. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound Brown, however, will now miss the first six games of the 2022 season for violation of the league’s performance enhancing policy per ESPN Rams insider Sarah Barshop on Monday, July 18.
Already, Heavy on Rams pointed out how one former Ram Ndamukong Suh can be a potential option — given his history with the team and the fact that Suh remains on the free agency market. However, there’s one other intriguing name who has experienced two Pro Bowls and winning a Super Bowl still out on there as NFL training camps prepare to start up (the Rams report on Saturday, July 23). And it just so happens this name played in a Rams-style defense last season.
The other potential option if the Rams decide to add to the nose tackle room? Linval Joseph.
Joseph’s History & Impact on Staley-Led Defense
Joseph, like Suh, is another owner of a Super Bowl ring. His came with the New York Giants in the 2011 season…suiting up for a defense that featured Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Suh’s future Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Jason Pierre-Paul.
Since then, the 6-foot-4, 329-pounder went on to establish himself as a perennial starter and one of the league’s best at clogging inside running lanes from his interior defensive line spot.
Per Pro Football Reference, Joseph has collected these numbers in his 12 seasons in the league: 644 total tackles, 379 solo stops, 56 tackles for a loss and 25 sacks.
He delivered his most individual success in a Minnesota Vikings uniform, where he earned back-to-back Pro Bowl nods in 2016 and 2017. The Vikings were also the team where he played his most NFL at with six seasons total.
But again, he found himself in a Rams-like attack last season for the Los Angeles Chargers with Staley behind the operations.
This clip from the October 17, 2021 game versus Baltimore shows a similar odd front the Rams ran when Staley was there. With five defenders in the box and three across the line including Joseph, he takes of advantage of the double team next to him by using his quickness and club/rip move on his solo block to snatch the always elusive Lamar Jackson.
He’s also an impactful space eater when lined up at the nose, proven here in their November 7, 2021 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joseph made those plays through the schemes Staley brought over via the Rams — the same schemes that turned Staley’s Rams defense into the league’s best unit in 2020 before taking the Chargers’ head coaching reins. Joseph finished with 57 tackles, 30 solo stops, three tackles for a loss and a sack in 2021 while playing for the former Rams defensive coordinator.
Is There Room for Joseph?
Brown’s suspension doesn’t mean he’ll miss half the season. Per ESPN’s Barshop, the former Texas A&M Aggie can still take part in practices but won’t be eligible to play until October 17, 2022 when the Carolina Panthers come to SoFi Stadium.
The Rams, though, may end up turning to another ’21 draft pick: Fifth rounder Earnest Brown IV who has experience playing inside at Northwestern. However, Earnest Brown’s size might get the Rams to become hesitant about playing in Brown’s nose spot. Marquise Copeland is another interior option but at 6-foot-2, 287-pounds, he may also be deemed too small to take on centers and guards like Brown and in the past Joseph-Day.
The Rams could go with a rotation when Brown is absent — which can include another massive option in 6-foot-4, 330-pound veteran A’Shawn Robinson. Or, the team can provide some needed depth here by luring in a defender familiar with how the Rams play defense.
Joseph was once on a two-year, $17 million contract with the Chargers. Given his age at 33, he’s considered to be a cheaper value at this stage of his career…which means the Rams won’t need to overspend if they were to decide to lure in the past Super Bowl winner.