Re-watching Saturday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys was mentally exhausting. It was like seeing how the sausage was made, except instead of a mixture of ground meats, it’s ineffective run blocking and the inability to win battles off the line.
I realize hindsight is 20/20, but if Saturday’s game showed me anything, it’s that maybe the Rams should have added more than LT Andrew Whitworth this offseason.
Wrong results on the right side
From the first quarter, the offensive line struggled moreso the right side than the left.
RT Rob Havenstein and RG Jamon Brown were actually switched at the beginning of the offseason. Havenstein was moved to guard and Brown to tackle, but the pair were reverted back to their original position before the game. The Rams felt it was their best look on that side of the line.
If that’s the best look, I’d hate to see what the worst looks like.
Brown struggled mightily out of the gate, failing to move guys off the line-of-scrimmage or even cut off their path to the ball-carrier.
Havenstein had a better night, but had a small share of poor offensive line play.
Even on plays where the pocket was unbroken, Havenstein and Brown were bull-rushed and pushed right into Jared Goff’s lap on some plays.
If the Rams want to change the right side again, might I suggest doing so with an outside hire? Because the better option is not on this team.
Things could be worse, and they were
The depth players on the line are much worse than the first unit, answering the the most popular question on Saturday night, “How the hell is (insert player here) starting?”
Because it’s a lot worse down the totem pole.
The bottom of the pole has to be Pace Murphy.
From start to finish, Murphy struggled while his competition seemed to work him with ease. There are a few plays where the Cowboys’ defensive end would simply bat Murphy to the side, take a step opposite his initial cut, and have a somewhat straight path towards Sean Mannion.
Same problems, new year
You could counter my observations by quoting stats and telling me that despite their worst effort, Mannion was only sacked twice (hah, only!) and the running game rushed for a combined 105 yards. You could do that, but you would be focusing on a small piece of the picture.
Take away RB Justin Davis’ 32-yard run, and the running game’s day gets a lot less impressive.
Imagine what the running game would have been had the running backs been given solid running lanes. Imagine if the quarterbacks had a pocket to sit in while they waited for plays to develop.
Imagine if they didn’t run the ball into a wall.
‘It’s the first preseason game’ argument holds little weight because this is the same unit facing the same problems we saw in 2016. But who knows? Maybe an entire unit’s problems will be solved once September begins.