In the final installment of better, worse or same on the offensive side of the football, today we’ll take a look at the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line. We’re looking at each position group for the Rams and determining whether or not the position - as a whole - has improved, gotten worse, or stayed the same since conclusion of the 2015 season. And we’re using your votes to determine their status for the upcoming year.
In the event you missed the others, we covered the skill positions earlier this week...
* We kicked it off with quarterbacks, and 83% of fans feel like the addition of rookie quarterback Jared Goff has improved the position.
* Despite minimal additions to the corps of running backs (and no subtractions to date), 61% of fans feel as though the RB’s have improved from last year.
* At wide receiver, adding a few rookies like Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas have the fanbase content, and 81% of voters think the Rams’ are better off at WR this year.
* Bye bye, Jared Cook. Hello, Tyler Higbee! A couple of fan-favorite moves make for an optimistic outlook in 2016, and the results of the poll reveal...well, that everyone’s happy Cook is gone.
And now, for the offensive front...
What is all boils down to for the Rams this year is the health of the starting five (being, from left to right, Greg Robinson - Rodger Saffold - Tim Barnes - Jamon Brown - Rob Havenstein).
The success of the run game depends on it. The success of Jared Goff depends on it. But that’s easier said than done.
Starting guards Brown and Saffold combined for 14 games last year. Brown is working his way back from a lower leg fracture suffered in mid-November. Saffold, who played in only five games in 2015, looks to return to full health from a shoulder injury sustained early in the year. A 16-game campaign from Saffold would go a long way for the Rams...but it’s something he’s accomplished only twice in six years in the NFL.
Greg Robinson, selected 2nd overall in the 2014 NFL draft, has been a disappointment at left tackle. But it appears he’s taking the initiative to rectify that this offseason, having worked with former Pro-Bowl center LeCharles Bentley at his performance institute. We’ll see if it pays off, but G-Rob’s ability to protect the blindside this season - be it for Goff or Keenum - will be key.
Rob Havenstein was a very pleasant surprise in his rookie season, and he looks to step right back in as the team’s starting right tackle. While Gurley may have been hogging the offensive spotlight, Havenstein was getting the job done unlike any other NFL tackle.
#Rams Rob Havenstein was the only OT to play 12+ games and not give up a single sack in 2015.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 10, 2016
Tim Barnes is very "meh," but he’ll get the job done. And he’s stayed healthy. Minimally, he’s good for a few fumble recoveries. Happy coach, happy life!
As aforementioned, the success of this line will ultimately come down to player health, lending the starting unit the time to cohere. In the unfortunate event that someone does go down, they Rams do have adequate depth along the line. Guys like Garrett Reynolds and Cody Wichmann were asked to step up in 2015, and performed well when called upon. We’ve yet to see what a few of the younger guys have to offer. And, assuming all goes well, we shouldn’t have to.
Better, Worse, or Same?
Same. Nothing has changed here. Greg Robinson may very well still display atrocious footwork, Tim Barnes is still very average, we’re crossing our fingers on a healthy return for the two guards, and Rob Havenstein is very good.
To say they’re improved is banking on player progression and health...neither of which I can definitively say have occurred.