Rams’ defense will be tested by mobile QBs often in 2023

There are still plenty of traditional pocket passers in the NFL today, but mobile quarterbacks have become much more common in recent years. And coaches are constructing their offenses to take advantage of their athleticism with designed runs and read-options.

The Los Angeles Rams will certainly be tested by mobile quarterbacks in 2023, facing some of the most athletic quarterbacks throughout the upcoming season. With Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray all on their schedule, the Rams will need to contend with some of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.

Among all quarterbacks in rushing yards, Jackson ranked second (764 yards) in just 12 games, Hurts ranked third (760), Jones was fourth (708) and Murray was sixth (418) despite only playing 11 games. Even Geno Smith finished seventh with 366 rushing yards, averaging 21.5 per game. So the Rams will face five of the top seven rushing quarterbacks based on yardage last season.

The list doesn’t stop there, though. Anthony Richardson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, rushed for 654 yards at Florida last season – and that’s including yards lost for sacks. Trey Lance, who got hurt in Week 2, has averaged 29.4 rushing yards per game in the eight games he’s played through two years.

Deshaun Watson was limited to six games last season but he had 175 yards on the ground, averaging 29.2 per game – only 9 yards fewer per game than Murray averaged. Joe Burrow, who doesn’t get enough credit for his mobility, had the 11th-most rushing yards of any quarterback last season (257) and found the end zone five times on the ground, fourth most of any quarterback.

Even Kenny Pickett (237 yards), Jacoby Brissett (243) and Dak Prescott (182) are considered mobile quarterbacks who can make plays with their legs when needed. All three of them will on the Rams’ schedule in 2023, along with the quarterbacks mentioned above.

Really, the only traditional pocket passer the Rams will face is Derek Carr. Jordan Love isn’t a burner, but he ran a 4.74 in the 40-yard dash and can move when the play breaks down. The Packers just won’t call many designed runs for him. Sam Howell, if he starts over Brissett, is a little more of a mystery but he can move, too.

There’s a difference between being mobile and a legitimate running quarterback. Pickett is mobile, but he’s not necessarily considered a running quarterback like Jackson, Hurts, Murray or Jones. Those four quarterbacks will have at least a few designed runs called each game. Pickett probably won’t.

It’s the running quarterbacks that will test the Rams’ edge rushers and inside linebackers this season. They’ll need to be disciplined when rushing the passer, not getting too far upfield to open up running lanes. Leonard Floyd had a lot of experience facing the likes of Murray and Russell Wilson in the NFC West, which helped the Rams when it came to defending the run. They’ll certainly miss him in that aspect.

The other challenge of facing athletic and scrambling quarterbacks is preparing for them. The Rams previously had Bryce Perkins, who was one of the better athletes at the position, to emulate players such as Murray. That responsibility could fall to Stetson Bennett in 2023 because the Rams will definitely need someone to run the scout team during the week before facing a mobile quarterback.

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Story originally appeared on Rams Wire