LA Rams: O-Line Needs to Bear Down


The Los Angeles Rams offensive line had a mediocre 2015 season which stemmed in part from the team’s lack of a true star and leader. They excelled in a multitude of rushing categories, finishing in the top 10 for yardage, yards per attempt, and touchdowns. The right guard and tackle mauled opponents on a weekly basis. Statistically, the Rams had more explosive plays and consistency when they ran to the right. As a unit, the offensive front generated 55 runs of 10 or more yards from scrimmage. The offense averaged at least three explosive runs per game. The Rams were extremely potent on third downs and goal line situations as they accumulated 173 conversions and touchdowns. That is an impressive statistic because it means the players on the line are taking their match ups personal. When a defense gets steamrolled, this only gives a great running back like Todd Gurley a chance to “rip the runway” like he is at a beauty pageant.

Although the Rams were successful in the rushing department, all that glitters is not gold. They could stand to improve on the left side and up the middle in the trenches. Most offensive lines are stronger running the ball to the right, but the difference for the Rams is great. They finished in the bottom half of a few categories, but the glaring problem is in first downs picked up. They finished in the lower tier of the NFL in that category. Generally, this means there is a lack of consistency across the board. Offensive line coach Paul T. Boudreau and new offensive coordinator Rob Boras will emphasize the importance of being more consistent on each down to reduce negative plays. As a result, Jared Goff and Gurley can have more manageable situations on third down. An offense that picks up first downs controls the pace, keeps their defense fresh, and keeps elite quarterbacks off the field. The Rams cannot afford to play in shootouts against NFC West rivals Seahawks and Cardinals.
Rodger Saffold anchored the right side of the line at tackle in 2015 until a season ending shoulder injury. Rob Havenstein stepped up filling in nicely, and started 13 games.The two might have a position battle brewing as camp heats up at right tackle. If Havenstein prevails, Saffold could be inserted into another spot along the front. He is extremely versatile and could play any position except center. Jamon Brown and Tim Barnes figure to be entrenched as starters in their respective spots. Cody Wichmann and Garrett Reynolds will likely battle for the left guard spot. Both guys started at least seven games a year ago with the Brown injury. Greg Robinson figures to be in for a make or break year at left tackle. If he struggled early on, look for Saffold and Havenstein to anchor on the line as tackles. Barnes has an excellent shot at being the leader as the center. Centers make a lot of calls and changes to protection before the play starts. He will need to build a relationship with his quarterback as well. The Rams will only go as far as this unit takes them.

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Photos: @LA Rams

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