Back in 2014 the Rams thought they had just locked up the best overall offensive tackle in the NFL draft. Well now going into his third season, that same offensive lineman has been nothing spectacular by any means.
Greg Robinson finds himself in not only his third season but a pivotal one at that. He has had an extremely rough time at the left tackle position and doesn’t want to continue that especially now, with the Rams bringing in the hopeful future franchise quarterback Jared Goff.
Robinson worked with OL guru LeCharles Bentley over the offseason in hope to improve his technique as a blindside protector. Robinson received some praise from Bentley as well as giving us some room for optimism perhaps? Well it hasn’t been all that perfect lately though. Saturday at the Coliseum, according to Eddie Perez of Turf Show Times, the former 2nd overall pick didn’t exactly stand out in a good way.
“We definitely need to see more intensity for Greg Robinson. He struggled blocking DE Eugene Sims. Got into a lil’ shoving match with Alec Ogletree and Tree punked him. I can’t say Greg is weak, but Alec sure made him look that way. A few plays later, Robinson proceeded to just barely put his hands on DL Ethan Westbrook on pass protection.”
That doesn’t sound good and while he has some time to fix it before the season it just still isn’t good to be having these issues. Lacking intensity is a bad sign for your blindside protector. Although it is worth mentioning Gil Brandt of NFL.com tweeted his belief in Robinson and thinks he’s showed some flashes of being the guy the Rams need him to be this offseason.
In Gil we trust? Not quite, there is still way too much to see with Robinson and non in-game drills aren’t exactly going to show us much. So basically lets get into why Robinson holds the key for seemingly everything in 2016.
First off you need to realize if Robinson plays well that means you are talking about a rookie quarterback like Goff given time from his blindside which is huge. You need to take a look at what happens if he doesn’t play well though. Bottom line is massive shuffling of the offensive line rotation could start and if the Rams get worried enough Robinson could slide back inside at guard possibly bringing back former left tackle-now guard Saffold to come back to his old position.
Now in this scenario which is likely of course, Robinson forces the Rams hand to move him inside and push Saffold back to his original position leaving a guy like Jamon Brown or Cody Wichmann without a starting job. To make matters even worse, as of right now Rob Havenstein the supposed starter at right tackle is injured and while it’s not major, he has forced Saffold to go to right tackle to start the preseason. What if Havenstein’s injury was more brutal than first anticipated, then Saffold kicks over to right tackle in wake of that. Wichmann is Saffold’s replacement at left guard but if Robinson struggles bad enough to cause a switch does that mean the Rams perhaps give their supplemental draft pick Isaiah Battle a shot?
See? There are many ways Robinson’s play can affect the offensive line but it’s more than that. Say the Rams start Jared Goff week one and Robinson struggles to protect him. Well this leaves many possibilities to happen to Goff. He could be injured, his play could struggle or even hurt his development by starting to get rattled early in his career. Lucky enough we know Goff had a sub par offensive line at California so he should be used to it.
Ok, now forget about quarterback for a second. What is the number one killer to a dominant defense? I will tell you now its time of possession. The defense played more than 16 games last season, by that I mean they played the equivalent of around 18 games last year due to the amount of time spent on the field. So now basically if this team is truly ready to take the next step and improve upon the offense that was just awful last year. They are going to need to stop the three-and-out’s. If Robinson is the weak link, it doesn’t matter how well the line is playing if he lets his man get through for a quarterback sack or just blindside pressure it can alter the play.
You may not have thought about it but if the Rams want to take the next step they need Robinson to step up in a big way this season. The domino effect is real and while the Rams have had an average or below average line, soon if the entire line starts to improve and Robinson is still out there looking lost on the field. It will be on him, the Rams desperately need to keep their rookie upright when he finally starts as well as keep their elite defense off the field.
Lastly, the young left tackle was a no. 2 overall pick and is being paid accordingly. The Rams are going to need to re-sign their young players like pro bowlers DT Aaron Donald and RB Todd Gurley as well as WR Tavon Austin, MLB Alec Ogletree and SS T.J. McDonald. This organization has a lot on their plate and if they hold onto a sub par Robinson in hopes he ever reaches his full potential they could also miss out on signing at least one of these players. For now all we can do is hope Robinson isn’t Alex Barron or Jason Smith all over again.