One of the biggest concerns amongst Los Angeles Rams fans going into the season was how the offensive line would perform with Brian Allen taking over at center, but after the first two games, Allen and the rest of the offensive line have at least temporarily quelled the concerns of those outside of the Rams facility.
Sunday’s 27-24 road victory against the Indianapolis Colts was made possible in part by solid performances across the board from the big guys up front. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was afforded clean pockets throughout the game, especially in the first half and the Rams only allowed one sack on the day.
The O-Line “Numbers” in Week 2
Sacks allowed: 1
Colts DE Al-Quadin Muhammad blew past the inside of Andrew Whitworth
Matthew Stafford was pressured on 12.5% of his dropbacks
Things are getting... better?— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 19, 2021
Muhammad with the sack!#ForTheShoe#LARvsIND#RamsHouse
via #NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/elo939T15e
When did the LA line eventually relent enough to let the QB be touched?
Other than a busted play where Stafford dropped to the turf to simply play another down, the Colts defense didn’t get their first hit on Stafford until just under three minutes left in the second quarter when defensive lineman DeForest Buckner beat left guard David Edwards before getting a nice shot in. Fortunately, Stafford was still able to hit Cooper Kupp with a pinpoint accurate pass to pick up the first down.
Later in the drive, Buckner got another hit on Stafford as defensive end Ben Banogu got immediate pressure, beating right tackle Rob Havenstein and forcing the Pro Bowl quarterback to climb an otherwise secure pocket.
Buckner’s relentless pursuit resulted in an incomplete pass on third and long.
Stafford often had all day to throw or would climb into the pocket and find a throw.
GROVER STEWART IN COVERAGE?!#ForTheShoe#LARvsIND#RamsHouse— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 19, 2021
via #NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/me7JlyTKKv
Though it was a bit of a slow start, the Rams o-line also performed well in the run game. LA’s running backs averaged 3.8 yards per carry in the first half. Similar to Week 1 versus the Chicago Bears, the Rams show greater commitment to the run in the second half, and it paid off as Los Angeles running backs Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel averaged 4.5 yards per carry, including a two yard touchdown to open the third quarter.
Allen is starting to silence all doubters.
I myself must admit I was mildly (very) concerned about Allen being named the starter at center. However, he had solid outing against the Colts, where he was credited with not allowing a single pressure.
According to Pro Football Focus (insert grain of salt), Allen is the second highest graded center in the NFL, behind only Frank Ragnow of the Detroit Lions, the highest paid center in the league.
If Allen and the rest of the offensive line continue on this pace, the sky is the limit for this offense. After performing exceptionally well against two teams that made the playoffs in 2020 on the strength of their defense, Allen and company face their toughest test yet: the defensive line of the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, a team stacked with talent on all sides of the field.
Can someone make sure Vita Vea gets left in Tampa? Maybe Brian Allen can actually help Rams fans forget that he’s there this weekend.