The Los Angeles Rams dropped their first preseason game of 2021 to the Brandon Staley-led Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 13-6, but what is important from Saturday night is not the outcome; it’s the way the players were able to handle themselves in whatever situations presented themselves. Throughout the contest, the Rams offensive line showed some positive glimpses, as well as some areas that need improvement.
These are six key takeaways from LAR’s o-line play this weekend.
Seven offensive linemen played.
The starters consisted of A.J. Jackson at left tackle, Chandler Brewer at left guard, Coleman Shelton anchoring the middle at center, Bobby Evans at right guard, and Tremayne Anchrum playing right tackle. Jackson, Brewer, and Anchrum played the entire game, while Jeremiah Kolone subbed in at center and Jordan Meredith took over at right guard midway through the third quarter.
No daylight for the running backs.
The run blocking was abysmal for the majority of the game, as Rams running backs totaled 47 yards on 19 attempts. That’s an average of only 2.46 yards per carry. There were a few runs where backs got one on one opportunities at the second level and couldn’t make the defender miss, but for the most part the guys up front couldn’t consistently create rushing lanes, as running backs were often swarmed near or behind the line of scrimmage. Too often offensive linemen whiffed on blocks and turned defenders loose with little to no resistance.
A.J. Jackson struggled.
Alaric “A.J.” Jackson had a bit of a rough night, which is fair to expect from a rookie playing left tackle in his first NFL game. As shown in the first video above, there were plays where he was unable to stay engaged with his defender, who ended up making the tackle in the backfield for a two yard loss. He also let his man around the edge too many times, forcing both Delvin Hodges and Bryce Perkins to either reset their throwing platform or completely roll out to the right to escape the pressure.
There were glimpses of textbook pass protection.
It wasn’t all bad for the big fellas up front. The Rams were mostly stout in pass protection when the Chargers only rushed four. They also did a decent job picking up the blitz, with some help from the running backs. Although LAR’s offensive line did allow some occasional pressure (especial on their left side) there was some great coaching tape that will benefit this group going forward.
One of my favorite offensive line plays was watching the left tackle and guard (Jackson & Brewer respectively) communicate post snap and swap off the would be pass rushers in the middle of a twist. It was very well executed and helped lead to a nice completion to Jacob Harris.
Only one sack surrendered.
I’ll sign up for that every game! The Rams didn’t allow a sack until early in the third quarter. Brewer gave up some immediate pressure through the B gap which forced Perkins to dance around in the pocket before being sacked for a three yard loss.
I would also like to see Anchrum finish linebacker Emeke Egbule instead just pushing him, as his defender ended up getting half a sack on the play.
The LA Rams offensive line didn’t commit a single penalty all game. That is something this unit can be proud of heading into week two and the remainder of the preseason. Adding to that, Anchrum actually helped draw a penalty flag. Chargers defensive end Jessie Lemonier jumped into the neutral zone pre snap. Anchrum wisely stood up, forcing the play to be blown dead.
Sure, this performance was a bit of a mixed bag, but it didn’t cause any reason for major concern about the depth up front at this point. One thing is for sure, offensive line coach Kevin Carberry can thank Coach Staley for giving him some good film to work with. The big guys up front had to deal with multiple blitzes and stunts, which will only add to what Carberry can teach the offensive line, by showing them in game examples of what to do and also, what not to do.