Even without their elder statesman left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Los Angeles Rams offensive line once again kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their loaded defensive front off of quarterback Matthew Stafford. According to Pro Football Focus, the unit allowed 12 total pressures against Tampa Bay. Joe Noteboom, who strained his pectoral in Tampa according to Sean McVay, again showed why resigning the four-year pro should be a top priority in the offseason, as he allowed only one pressure against the Bucs.
He has more than earned a starting left tackle job in the league. Noteboom said the opportunity to start will be a major factor in his decision making process.
“Starting is the ultimate goal. But, just trying to find the right fit, whether it’s here. I’d love to be here. But definitely if you’ve got a chance to start, that’s what every player wants to do.”
Center Brian Allen had his hands full, dealing with the 346 pound mountain of a man known as Vita Vea. Allen only allowed two pressures but any good will on the day was tossed out the window due to his ill-advised snap that went over Stafford’s head, and was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pass Protection: A-
The O-line kept Stafford clean, especially in the first half. Vea was able to get a sack to open the second quarter, as he twisted outside and ended up being blocked by Noteboom. This was considered a coverage sack, as Stafford had the ball in his hands for five seconds from snap to sack. The Bucs got another sack on the Rams’ final drive, when Stafford decided to give his best Dak Prescott impersonation, choosing to run up the heart of the defense.
“The first down play, I don’t know. I was thinking I was going to run it,” Stafford said in his post-game press conference. “It was a poor idea.”
I can’t really blame anyone on the offensive line for either of those sacks. PFF sees it in a similar fashion (so insert grain of salt here) as they did not credit the O-line for either of those sacks.
"Deep drop. Big throw... Cooper Kupp is all alone!"— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 25, 2022
| Radio Call of the Game: Stafford airs it out to Kupp for 6 pic.twitter.com/igEz1XIxwd
Run Blocking: D
The only reason why the big guys up front are not getting an “F” for a grade here is the fact that there was an expectation for the run game to struggle. The Bucs have proven to be a difficult group to run against over the past two seasons.
The running game was always going to be about attempts, more than racking up yardage in Tampa Bay. Even with that in mind, it still would have been nice for the running backs to be able to produce more than 52 yards on 25 carries, good for two yards per carry.
Van Jefferson added 15 yards to the teams rushing total on a jet sweep. He’ll need a few of those next week too, as LA has struggled to run the ball against the San Francisco 49ers this season.
Allen was the only offensive lineman guilty of committing a penalty against the Buccaneers. Thankfully the offense was able to overcome his holding call on the very next play with a 20-yard reception by Odell Beckham Jr.
Hopefully the O-line will be able to continue to limit the unnecessary penalties for eight more quarters. It would certainly go a long way in helping send Big Whit off into the sunset with a Lombardi trophy, possibly even against his old Cincinnati Bengals. That would be almost too perfect.
A warm welcome home from the #RamsHouse!— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 24, 2022
NFC Championship at @SoFiStadium pic.twitter.com/McC95dVo3b