The Los Angeles Rams were unable to pull out the win versus the Las Vegas Raiders Saturday night, losing by a final score of 17-16. The LA offensive line, which started the same five as last week (left tackle AJ Jackson, left guard Chandler Brewer, center Coleman Shelton, right guard Bobby Evans, and Tremayne Anchrum at right tackle) showed a bit of improvement in the run game at times, but otherwise left much to be desired from the reserve unit.
There was more room to run than last week
The Rams rushed for 129 yards versus the Raiders, racing past their 73 total rushing yards versus the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1 of the preseason. “When we were able to kind of stick with running the ball, there were some positives,” noted Head Coach Sean McVay in his post-game press conference.
Rams’ Bryce Perkins, running backs show more in loss to Raiders. https://t.co/cw40Dj5wTp— Kevin Modesti (@KevinModesti) August 22, 2021
However, looking a bit deeper into those rushing yards, we can begin to chip away at some of the perceived credit one may have attributed to the offensive line when just looking at the stat line.
Quarterback Bryce Perkins accounted for 41 of the 129 rushing yards on multiple scrambles and a couple of designed quarterback runs. Without those yards from Perkins, Los Angeles actually rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries.
Diving a bit deeper, 14 of those yards came on a give up draw play on third-and-22, with the Raiders defense guarding the first down marker and virtually ignoring the run. Removing those 14 yards brings us to a total of 74 yards on 16 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per rush, a stark contrast from the 2.47 yards per rushing attempt (not including quarterback rushing yards) against the Chargers.
Bryce Perkins had to scramble like his life depended on it
While the Rams did show tangible improvement in the running game, pass protection is a different story. The LA offensive line provided very few clean pockets for Perkins, who played the entire game. He constantly had to scramble outside of the pocket or throw from within a collapsing pocket with defenders closing in on the former University of Virginia Cavalier.
The fact that the front five only allowed one sack is much more a credit to the quarterback’s mobility than it is to the stoutness of the offensive line. Luckily, if the LA Rams are forced to dip into the reserve offensive lineman beyond Joseph Noteboom, they will only have to cherry pick from the unit playing in the preseason. Inserting one of the seven linemen rotating in the preseason, into the starting lineup due to injuries would hopefully yield improved results, as they would be playing next to better and more experienced linemen that could help them on the field.
Bobby Evans is struggling
Evans had a bad game to say the least. He may have had the worst performance, not just on the offensive line, but on the team. He allowed consistent pressure up the middle and didn’t do too much better in the running game.
Add in the fact the he committed two drive killing penalties, (Tremayne Anchrum was incorrectly sited with Evan’s illegal hands to the face on LA’s second drive) and it now creates a situation where a player who actually got playoff experience last season may actually be losing confidence, instead of building on that post season playing time.
Bobby Evans might legitimately be on the chopping block his effort against 3rd stringers is abysmal.— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) August 22, 2021
There were too many penalties on the offensive line
The Los Angeles Rams committed 10 penalties for 84 yards versus the Las Vegas. The offensive line was responsible for five of those penalties for 37 yards, whipping out first downs and putting the offense in a position where they were constantly behind the chains.
Last week this same unit committed zero penalties. This particular regression will be addressed in practice, but this is the backup offensive line and it is the preseason. There should be an expectation that these things will happen, but the fact that this very unit played a clean game last week, as far as penalties are concerned, has set an expectation that they can do better in that regard.
Tremayne Anchrum played well early but exited due to injury early in the second half
On the first drive of the second half, right tackle Anchrum suffered an apparent leg injury on a play where two Las Vegas Raiders were also injured. He was slow to get up, but eventually slowly walked to the sideline under his own power.
I see TreMayne Anchrum out standing on the sideline with his helmet in his hand so that's a good sign.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 22, 2021
Chandler Brewer moved to right tackle in his absence, while Jordan Meredith replaced Brewer at left guard.
Thankfully McVay stated that Anchrum should be fine.
“I believe he’ll be okay, “said McVay. “He just kind of got his ankle rolled up a little bit, but I think he’s going to be okay.”
Anchrum was playing very well prior to his injury so the early optimism regarding his exit is encouraging for both his future and the offensive line depth moving forward.