As I prepped my “stock up, stock down” piece for a Monday release, the Rams had gone down two touchdowns to the San Francisco 49ers. I trashed the article. The abysmal performance put up by the Rams and their offensive line turned my head in another direction: we suck again. No, the team isn’t under-talented but rather they are horrible at the worst positions possible. Coming into the year, I–– as many other Rams supporters did at the time–– rallied behind the Rams’ new-look offensive line in hope that the youth movement would make some noise.
After three weeks into the season, the Rams were 3-0, but there was cause for concern. The offensive line and the offense as a whole looked off. I was willing to ignore it; the Rams were getting wins!! Now, three weeks after the last win for the organization the problem has become crystal clear, even to the eyes of a casual football fan: the Rams have no offensive line.
The Beginning of The End
The start of the problem began when the offseason began, as it became clear the Rams were going to move off of former left guard Rodger Saffold. Now, Big Rodg. isn’t having himself too great of a season with the Tennessee Titans, but he has been a ton better than what LA has put up to start the year. Letting Saffold go wasn’t the problem (signing a 31-year-old guard to an $11 million APY contract can be dangerous) the problem really lied in what happened directly after. Les Snead and Sean McVay trusted their young core of interior lineman: Austin Blythe, Brian Allen, and Joe Noteboom to carry the load for the team after the loss of Saffold. This was their biggest blunder of the season. Disguised under the hypnotic effect of winning NFL games, the Rams were losing the battle of the trenches every single game.
Allen and Noteboom weren’t the only ones guilty of getting exposed on the line this season. Both tackles, Rob Havenstein and Andrew Whitworth have been getting worked by defensive lines all year. As penetration seeps through the middle, the outside is just as bad or even worse. Whitworth – for all he has done for the Rams in his tenure in LA – has been the only offensive linemen that are even close to average throughout the first five games.
Whit and Hav Going Down
With a PFF grade of sub-seventy for the first time in a long time and the first time as a Rams, Whitworth’s final season hasn’t been a peaceful one. For his tackle counterpart Rob Havenstein, this season has been straight-up abysmal. You would think Aaron Donald is lined up opposite of Havenstein every snap because he gets beaten nearly every snap. Why you ask? It’s part regression but also I believe the former elite tackle duo knows the guys in the middle need help.
Whether it be because the tackles are compensating or overthinking or because the guards are just getting pummeled through the middle of the offensive line, if the Rams want to fix the issue quick they have the tools to do so.
A trade for star tackle Trent Williams of the Washington Redskins should be in order: now. If there is a star such as him on the market you go get him as soon as you can. If the Rams can avoid giving up too many high-round picks they can draft offensive line in the upcoming draft to pair with Williams. The Redskins are the Redskins, they’ll give in. That may be some fan logic, but thinking that the Redskins aren’t scanning the market is ignorant. The Rams have to figure out a way to circumvent the cap to make the trade work and get rid of some players, but it would be worth it. Even without Williams in the future plans, the Rams will look externally and might also look to promote the rookies to starting roles.
Things need to change, and it starts with the offensive line.
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