On Wednesday, I wrote about the LA Rams offensive line and who the presumptive starters would be other than left tackle Andrew Whitworth. I turned it over to the people and via polls, the Rams 2020 offensive line might look like this:
Whitworth - Austin Corbett - Austin Blythe - David Edwards - Rob Havenstein
With Bobby Evans as the swing tackle and Joseph Noteboom as the first option off the bench for guards. Of course, this does not take into account any rookies who will enter the fray following the draft. It is also the same offensive line we saw in Week 17 against the Arizona Cardinals, with the exception of Evans starting over Havenstein.
But would continuity be a good thing?
Over at FootballOutsiders, they posted continuity scores for all 32 NFL teams. What is that?
Offensive line continuity scores were originally developed by Jason McKinley in the early days of FO (when FO Almanac was still Pro Football Prospectus) and we have since gone back and calculated it for every team since 1999. The continuity scores are based on three variables: number of starters used; number of week-to-week changes in starting lineups; and the longest starting streak of any one five-man unit. A team can earn a maximum of 16 points in any one category (one point per game), meaning a team that started the same five linemen in all 16 games would get a perfect score of 48. Hypothetically, if a team started five brand new linemen every week of the year, they would get a “perfect” score of -57, though of course nobody has ever come close to that. The worst continuity score on record belongs to the 2015 New England Patriots at 15.
About 1.5 teams every year post a perfect continuity score of 48 and in 2019, that distinction belonged to the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts improved from a score of just 24 the year prior, experiencing the most improvement in continuity, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team that had the greatest fall in continuity?
After they posted a perfect rating of 48 in 2018, the Rams dropped to a continuity score of 30. They had nine different starters on the line (only five teams had more) with five different lineups and the longest streak of continuity being seven games. Most of their hits seemed to come in the middle of the season and in some cases, specifically Evans over Havenstein, seemed to be of help.
Which brings up a point: does offensive line continuity actually matter?
The team with the worst continuity was the Miami Dolphins, but the Houston Texans were neck-and-neck with them and won a playoff game. The Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs also had worse continuity scores than the Rams did. The Colts and Jaguars failed to make the playoffs, though the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens experienced good continuity.
I think the real key to any unit is not continuity, but talent. LA had a bad offensive line in 2016. When they signed Whitworth and John Sullivan, they were destroying continuity from the previous year. And it was a great decision. The Rams will want continuity next season but only because it implies good choices and good health.
That’s the score every team is really looking to rank first in.