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Breaking Down the Rams' Offensive Line

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The St. Louis Rams' offensive line is underperforming. What gives?

Rich Schultz

There were two lines of thinking regarding the offensive line heading into the season.

On one hand, you could argue that the Rams OL was ready for a breakthrough season. The team has a four time Pro-Bowl left tackle , they drafted the most hyped offensive lineman since said LT, a high profile center, a supremely versatile right guard, and arguably the most underrated lineman in the league at right tackle.

On the flip side of that, one could also say that the OL was doomed from the get-go. The FORMER Pro-Bowler is coming off a major knee injury, the #2 overall pick has never been asked to protect the QB, the center and right guard are both overpaid and injury prone, and the right tackle is possibly the best lineman on the team.

The reality likely lies somewhere in the middle. Jake Long has the proven track record you look for in a franchise LT, and you can expect all-star play from him when his knee is right. Greg Robinson is a mountain of a man, but failed to beat out a washed up Davin Joseph in the pre-season...which is still perplexing. Scott Wells isn't as overpaid since restructuring his deal in the preseason and is finally healthy. The Rams may have overpaid to keep Rodger Saffold, but his positional flexibility and ability to be an elite guard were worth keeping around. Joe Barksdale is living proof of why OL Coach Paul Boudreau is the best in the biz.

In a well written piece, Ben Muth of Football Outsiders broke down the issues that the Rams OL is facing. I've watched every game's coaches film provided by NFL Game Rewind, but seeing mistakes on repeat in GIF format really made the OL issues sink in.

The only position that doesn't have the experience or ability to right the ship is right guard. Put bluntly, Davin Joseph has to go. I'm not saying that replacing him with G-Rob will immediately solve anything, but it would at least allow the #2 overall pick to get his feet wet. Austin Davis is already used to having a sieve at RG and has shown the ability to escape the pressure. However bad Robinson would be in pass pro, wouldn't he develop faster if he was thrown to the wolves?

To sum it all up, the OL is the epitome of what this Rams team is all about: talented, but with a lot of a question marks. Regardless of whether you had a glass half-full or half-empty mentality at the start of the year, it's fair to say that the Rams OL has underwhelmed through the first quarter of the season. Fixing these issues - starting tonight - will a long way towards determining how they will fare for the rest of their season.