One linebacker from the Los Angeles Rams frustrated the Chicago Bears with his versatility as a coverage linebacker, run stuffer and sealing off a potential touchdown run.
The 26-year-old and fourth-year inside ‘backer was one of three Ram defenders who reached the double-digit tackle mark in the season opening win at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood with 10 tackles. But as his head coach Sean McVay pointed out to reporters after the game, the 6-foot-1, 234-pounder was more than a tackler in his seventh official start as a Ram.
“I thought he picked up where he left off,” McVay said. “He’s had a great training camp. He’s done a great job of really kind of demonstrating the versatility that he has, both being able to defend the run but also making timely plays in pass coverage.”
And one of those plays where Young’s impact was felt? The red zone takeaway that helped set the tone for the night.
“That tip was all him,” McVay said. “And then David Long did a great job finishing it. But he’s been flying around. He’s got great athleticism, toughness. And (LB coach) Chris Shula’s done a great job with Kenny and very pleased for Kenny and want to see him continue to build on this.”
4 Plays Shine Light on Young’s Impact against Chicago
Per Pro Football Focus, Young lined up on 69 total defensive plays, 56 of them inside the box.
To gain a better understanding of how impactful Young was, four plays illustrate it.
Before the Bears marched inside the Rams’ red zone, Chicago, operating in 12 personnel with two tight ends and a single back, got itself to the 12-yard line off of a long David Montgomery scamper where the Bear executes the run on an inside zone play.
Next Gen Stats posted on their Twitter account that Montgomery reached a speed of 20.80 m.p.h. on that run.
But here’s where Young’s presence comes into play: Even though Young is caught out of position the moment the run begins by reading the play to the left of the Bears’ line before Montgomery cuts inside, Young isn’t tangled up by a Bears offensive linemen and immediately makes a beeline for the 1,000-yard back. Young ends up outrunning two Ram defensive backs to seal off the potential scoring touchdown, with a better view of it from this sky view.
Then, on the official sixth play of the game, Young uses his hands to swing the momentum back to the Rams – and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Facing third down and six from the 8-yard line, Andy Dalton attacks the side of Young by targeting Darnell Mooney. Young reads the play perfectly by staying in his designated zone coverage area and forcing the interception to Long.
Later in the first quarter, Young shows his eyes and awareness for the football – on Hollins forcing the strip and Young pouncing on the loose ball.
Young also didn’t need to make tackles or pass breakups every play to deliver his impact. He used his verbal side.
In this clip, the Rams are facing an aggressive Bears play call where the offense stays on the field on 4th and 4. Tight end Cole Kmet goes from being the furthest receiver aligned to the right of the formation to the motion man on the play. Young, however, immediately identifies where the play is going and communicates with Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Fuller, the latter moving up close to the line. Ramsey ends the play on the pass breakup for the turnover on downs, all thanks to Young shouting the signal.
Young’s Night Was His Best in L.A.
Before the opening win, Young only had one double-digit tackle day in his young career: 10 tackles on September 23, 2018 against the Denver Broncos during a time he was a Baltimore Raven.
Last season, Young snatched eight tackles (six solo) in the 24-3 win over the New England Patriots on December 10, 2020, which was his previous best in L.A.
But now, Young completed this trifecta: A forced interception, a fumble recovery and forcing a turnover on downs.
Young showed his versatility and impact as McVay called it. Now the hope in the “Rams House” is that Young builds on his performance.