It’s not the first time the Los Angeles Rams have aimed to spark the pass rush midseason.
Denver Broncos eight-time All-Pro and Most Valuable Player of the 2016 Super Bowl Von Miller getting traded to the Rams certainly sent shockwaves across the NFL landscape on Monday, November 1. And it sparked a series of “mood” excited reactions on Twitter from the likes of Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Rams defensive line coach Eric Henderson.
But as Sosa Kremenjas of Pro Football Focus posted on Twitter following the Miller trade, the Rams did something identical before…and it eventually led to the NFC title.
Looking Back at the Dante Fowler Trade
Fowler was the first member of a stacked Jacksonville Jaguars defense that featured another future Ram in Jalen Ramsey to be dealt away.
Before his L.A. arrival, the then third-year pro produced 16 sacks through 47 games and seven starts via Pro Football Reference. His best season came in 2017, when the Jags went 10-6 but knocked off the Buffalo Bills and stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers before falling to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. Fowler produced eight sacks that year.
But Fowler witnessed a decline in sack production the following year: Just two sacks. Then in the final week of October 2018, the Jaguars pulled this stunner at the time:
Fowler got his first sack as a Ram in his second game in L.A.: Against the Seattle Seahawks in the 36-31 win on Sunday Night Football on November 11.
Fowler, though, flipped a switch in the playoffs. He got a combined three QB hits and 1.5 sacks in victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints during the Rams’ march to the NFC championship.
The following year, Fowler delivered his best season to date — producing 11.5 sacks which included three different games of reaching between 2-3 sacks. Ram fans, however, probably remember Fowler best for pulling off this scoop and score at Pittsburgh:
Fowler, however, went on to sign a three-year deal worth $48 million in March 2020. He left the Rams collecting 13.5 sacks in their uniform.
But again, the move was considered an aggressive one at the time for a team that was 8-0 and becoming a Super Bowl contender. Fast forward to three years later, the Rams are 7-1 and snatched Miller from the Rocky Mountains to bolster their Super Bowl chances.
Can History Repeat Itself?
Unlike Fowler, Miller is coming to the Rams as an older defender at the age of 32.
Miller put together five consecutive years of double digit sacks from the 2014 season to 2018. However, in 2019, his totals declined to eight in 15 starts. This season, Miller managed 4.5 before the trade.
Miller comes to L.A. as someone who looks to be past their prime. Whereas Fowler was a defender who wasn’t considered in his prime when the Rams traded for him.
But as Kremenjas alluded to, the Miller trade comes nearly three years and around the same time the Rams swooped up Fowler. And that aggressive move gave the Rams the franchise’s fourth conference title.
On a defense that features two All-Pros in Donald and Ramsey, a 10-sack threat in Floyd and a fast-riser in Joseph-Day, all signs are indicating history has a strong chance of being repeated with Miller officially touching down in L.A.