The Los Angeles Rams travel east to play a depleted New York Giants roster on Sunday, but as we found out against the New York Jets last season, no NFL team can be overlooked. Complacency certainly shouldn’t be an issue for the offensive line thanks to having one of the NFL’s most experienced players of all time.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is continuing to play at an elite level so far during the 2021 season. According to Pro Football Focus, Whitworth is the eleventh ranked tackle in the league and is coming off of his highest rated pass protection grade of the season.
As the 4-1 Rams prepare to travel to the east coast for the first time this season to face the 1-4 Giants, Big Whit and fellow edge protector right tackle Rob Havenstein must make sure rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari is neutralized.
3 sacks in 4 games for Azeez Ojulari— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) October 7, 2021
Him and JOK are two 2nd rounders off to tremendous starts pic.twitter.com/ZvXibWwau8
Giants pass rush
The Giants won Super Bowls with the likes of Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul but they haven’t had a true edge threat since losing the tandem of Pierre-Paul and and Olivier Vernon several years ago. As a result, New York has been one of the worst teams in the league in terms of rushing the passer this season, though Ojulari, the 50th overall pick, has been a bright spot . Through five games they have a total of just eight sacks, despite blitzing on almost 30 percent of passing plays. Ojulari is tied for the team lead with defensive tackle Austin Johnson at three sacks each.
Leonard Williams this season:— Azeez Ojulari Enthusiast (@dailydose0nyg) October 11, 2021
1.5 sacks, 26 comb tackles, 2 TFL, 4 QB Hits
Austin Johnson this season:
3.0 sacks, 24 comb tackles, 4 TFL, 3 QB Hits
One of them is getting paid 21 million per year
Johnson has only accumulated 6.5 career sacks, but strangely has three this season after only having 3.5 in his first five campaigns. If it’s any comfort, he only gets a sack in odd number weeks this season.
It would be understandable if the sack totals were low because the defensive pressure is getting close enough to the quarterbacks to force them into throwing interceptions. The pressure has been nearly nonexistent, as “Big Blue” has only been able to hurry the quarterback 16.8 percent of quarterback drop backs, according to Pro Football Reference.
Thankfully, the Giants pass rushing deficiencies play right into a strength for the Rams; protecting the quarterback. According to Next Gen Stats, the Rams offensive line affords Matthew Stafford an average of 2.72 seconds from the time the ball is snapped to the time the ball leaves his hand.
While that time to throw statistic ranks near the middle of the pack, it does not account for time created by a quarterback scrambling and extending the passing play. For example, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the league in time to throw with 3.11 seconds (with a minimum of 150 pass attempts), partly due to his ability to elude defenders in the pocket and buy extra time for his receivers to get open.
L.A. has only allowed four sacks this season. The offensive line has only been responsible for three of those, as tight end Tyler Higbee allowed the only sack in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks. That means the Rams offensive line has actually gone two consecutive games without allowing a sack. Do you think L.A. can make it three in a row?