The Los Angeles Rams offensive line has shown that they are a versatile and deep unit. After finding out (on Christmas morning of all days) that Andrew Whitworth tested positive for COVID-19, head coach Sean McVay and the offensive staff had to shuffle the O-line one day before doing battle against the Minnesota Vikings. With swing tackle Joe Noteboom still on the reserve/COVID-19 list, LA had to get creative fast.
They decided to put Coleman Shelton (who played exceptionally well while filling in for center Brian Allen in Weeks 13 and 14) at left guard and kick David Edwards out to left tackle. Allen, Austin Corbett, and Rob Havenstein played their usual positions at center, right guard and right tackle respectively.
That lineup lasted for a little over on quarter, when Allen was injured and forced to miss the rest of the game. Shelton moved back to center and Edwards reverted back to his normal left guard spot. McVay and offensive line coach Kevin Carberry turned to rookie Alaric Jackson to fill in at left tackle to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side. Despite the frequent changes, the unit excelled in Minnesota in all phases.
Pass Protection: A+
I don’t even need to grade on a curve for this one. The patchwork O-line didn’t allow a single sack against the team that led the league in sacks, entering Week 16. Sure there we’re a few pressures and even a hit on Stafford that may have at least partially contributed to an interception. The guys up front still blocked their asses off. I may be a tad bit overzealous and caught up in the moment, but I feel pretty confident moving forward knowing the Rams are legitimately eight deep on the offensive line.
That would be a resounding no, Hall of Fame!
Run Blocking: A+
The only thing better than how the offensive line performed in passing game is how they consistently opened holes in the run game; they manhandled the Minnesota defensive front. LA paved the way for Sony Michel to run for 131 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. That’s a ridiculous 4.9 per attempt. If McVay can commit to giving Michel and the returning Cam Akers 25-30 carries a game, it’s going to be a long day for any opposing defenses.
There was nothing at all to speak of in terms of penalties on the offensive line. Literally, nothing. There were no flags thrown on the O-line. This was as close to a flawless victory as it gets. The trenches were absolutely dominated by the big guys up front in all phases. Now the Rams need to continue to get healthy up front, as both Noteboom —now activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list— and Allen should be ready to go against the Baltimore Ravens.
Tackle Joe Noteboom is off the reserve/COVID-19 list, says McVay. Whitworth still on it.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 28, 2021
Sean McVay said OL Brian Allen "tweaked his knee" but is going to be OK.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) December 28, 2021