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Why Sean McVay is feeling better about the Rams’ offensive line

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Both Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen were injured last season

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger reasons why the Los Angeles Rams went from the NFC champion in 2018 to finishing out of the playoffs in 2019 was their offensive line.

What was previously the anchor to a dangerous offense was a weakened unit in 2019, mostly due to injuries. While McVay said the Rams’ offensive dip in 2019 – they scored 133 less points (an average of 8.3 less points a game) than in 2018 - was a unit-wide issue, it was clear that the Rams’ problems on the offensive line hurt the team last season.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Joe Noteboom
Joe Noteboom/Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Left guard Joe Noteboom suffered both ACL and MCL injuries in Week 6 and was lost for the season. A month later, center Brian Allen was lost for the rest of the season with an MCL problem.

McVay said at the NFL combine that both offensive linemen are making progress and should be ready to play in 2020.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Andrew Whitworth
Andrew Whitworth/Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

In addition to the injuries, the Rams have some contractual issues with offensive linemen. Both left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and center/guard Austin Blythe are free agents. The Rams also have to decide if they want to bring back right tackle Rob Havenstein. His play dipped last season and he finished the season injured. He has a $7.8 million salary cap hit this year.

McVay expressed some confidence in the team re-signing Whitworth, explaining at the combine how important Whitworth is to the offense.

Having just $23 million in salary cap room and no first-round pick, the Rams will need to be shrewd to help improve this offensive line. With both injury and roster flux on the line, keeping Whitworth and getting starters back healthy is a crucial key for the Rams this offseason.