The Los Angeles Rams offense caught fire against the Arizona Cardinals’ top-five defense, including a stretch of five consecutive scoring drives in LA’s 30-23 victory. A catalyst for the offensive success was the play of the offensive line. Despite missing both right tackle Rob Havenstein (reserve/COVID-19 list) and center Brian Allen (sprained MCL) the O-line did a good enough job to earn both a win in the desert and good overall grades.
Andrew Whitworth, who is still one of the best members of a team community and locker room that anyone could ask for, remains the team’s best offensive lineman at age 40.
How did he and the under-40 crew do against the Cards?
Pass Protection: B-
The offensive line allowed a total of nine pressures and two hits on Matthew Stafford. Ordinarily, yielding three sacks along with that amount of heat on the quarterback would more than likely lead to a grade no higher than a “C-” on a generous day. With that being said, playing with backup center Coleman Shelton for the second week in a row and Joe Noteboom out of position at right tackle allows us to grade on a bit of a curve.
Run Blocking: B+
The running game picked up where it left off last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though Los Angeles was missing two starters on the line, they continued to add beef up front with a sixth offensive lineman. This week, Bobby Evans completed the heavy personnel package.
There weren’t many explosive or flashy runs, just efficient attempts as Sony Michel averaged four yards per carry. I was actually surprised to see Michel only had 70 yards on the ground; it felt like he was much closer to 100 yards than he really was. This smash mouth brand of running has pumped the physicality back into the Rams, and not just in the running game.
Couldn’t be prouder of my brother, Coleman Shelton tonight. Not a lot of men can say they’ve started an NFL football game and you did it tonight and played brilliantly. Love you my guy! pic.twitter.com/pj53AUlfgl— Dane Crane (@DaneCrane55) December 14, 2021
The offensive line was only flagged once against the Cards, which was actually declined. The reason for such a low grade on a declined penalty is the fact it was a repeat infraction from last week. Left guard David Edwards was called for being an ineligible lineman downfield on an incomplete screen pass on 3rd-and-six. That needs to get cleaned up immediately, as there were several instances other position groups were flagged on screen passes during the game.