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2022 Week 11 OL Review

Hail to the Chiefs

Next stop on the 2022 Rams Tour of Misery is the Kansas City Chiefs. The No Longer Governor's Cup. The Atwell vs Creed Bowl. In 2018, the Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51. This time around, the teams might again combine for 105 points, but it could be KC scoring all the points and the Rams not getting on the board at all.

KC has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They rank 1st in ESPN's pass block win rate and 2nd in run block win rate. The Rams are 25th in PBWR and 28th in RBWR.

Orlando Brown 69.8 PFF (32nd out of 80 OTs). Brown is playing on a franchise tag at a cost of $16.7 million. He reportedly turned down a 6 year $139 million contract offer from KC (over $23 mill salary), which doesn't look like the best of decisions right now. His relatively average level of play raises questions about whether he will remain with the Chiefs long term or if the team will allow him to walk next season.

Joe Thuney 75.9 PFF (8th out of 82 Guards). Thuney is the top guard in pass block win rate and he's 8th in run block win rate. KC paid him $16 mill per year to lure him away from the Pats in FA to plug a big hole at their guard positions and he's been worth the money. I wasn't very high on Thuney when he was drafted. He played an important role in the SB victory over the Rams when he helped block Aaron Donald. Even though Creed Humphrey gets more attention, I believe you could make an argument that Thuney is actually their best offensive lineman.

Creed Humphrey 83.3 PFF (1st out of 38 Centers). Creed is ranked 1st in both PBWR and RBWR.

Trey Smith 72.7 PFF (13th out of 82 OGs).

Andrew Wylie 58.9 PFF (65th out of 80 OTs). The weakest link on their line, he got hurt a couple weeks ago, but is playing through it.

Former 2020 3rd round pick, Lucas Niang opted out of his rookie season, had a 64.6 PFF grade his 2nd year, but ruptured his patella tendon late in the season. He just got activated off the PUP list, but likely will only serve as a backup player.

Rookie 5th round pick, Darian Kinnard has been a healthy inactive for most of the season.

I'm rooting for Prince Tega Wanogho (68.2 PFF) to continue to progress. He dropped to a 6th round pick by Philly due to medical flags, a shame, because he was a talented prospect.

Nick Allegretti (53.0 PFF) is on their bench, along with former Washington 3rd round pick, Geron Christian (46.0 PFF). Austin Reiter is on their practice squad.

This week's game showcases 2 of the best DTs in the NFL, Aaron Donald and Chris Jones. AD owns the best pass rush win rate among DTs, while Jones is ranked 2nd. Jones has the best defensive tackle PFF grade at 92.2, while Donald at 90.9 ranks 3rd.

The Chiefs have the worst run stop win rate in the NFL, while the Rams rank 2nd. Now that A'Shawn Robinson is injured, this might not be as big a factor as it would appear, especially since KC has such a good OL and the Rams have such a terrible OL.

The Chiefs rank 31st in the NFL in opponent passer rating. They only have 4 INTs this season. If you are pulling for the Rams to get the upset, I guess it is possible the Rams could try to hit some bit pass plays early in the game, grab a surprise lead, then try to run the ball to keep Mahomes off the field, melt the clock away in the 2nd half.

George Karlaftis only has a 47.8 PFF grade, ranking 104th out of 116 edge defenders. He only has half a sack so far, a slow start for the 1st round rookie out of Purdue.

2nd round rookie Bryan Cook (62.8 PFF) is only a rotational backup behind Juan Thornhill (55.6 PFF) and Justin Reid (60.4), but we might see more of Cook as the season progresses. Taylor Rapp (63.9 PFF) actually has a better PFF grade than the KC safeties, even though all those guys were early round draft picks.

1st round rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie (72.0 PFF) was hurt earlier in the season, but has returned and played well. Fellow rookie cornerback, Joshua Williams (65.5 PFF, 50th out of 119 CBs) also is in the top 3 CB rotation, shuffling rookie Jaylen Watson (52.4) down the depth chart. Watson has made some splash plays, but he's only the 92nd ranked CB in the league.

3rd round rookie linebacker, Leo Chenal (55.7 PFF), has played mainly special teams and gets some snaps as a rotational backup. Their other LBs, Bolton and Gay, are pretty athletic, so I like how Chenal's strength and pass rushing ability complements that and gives KC situational flexibility.

Rookie running back, Isiah Pacheco is one of the lowest graded RBs in the NFL (59.8 PFF, 56th out of 63 RBs), but he had a 100 yard game against the Chiefs, essentially having won the starting role. Rookie WR Skyy Moore also is showing flashes of emerging as more of a factor for the 2nd half of the season.

In sum, it has been a mixed bag for a large group of rookie draft picks for KC, but there is a load of talent injected into the roster, providing reason for optimism as the Chiefs look to extend their Super Bowl window.

Rams Sing the Blues

Like the Chiefs, the Rams have one of the best OLs in the NFL and a star studded and deep rookie draft class. Oh wait, no they don't.

Ty Neskhe 65.1 PFF. If he's not able to go due to his injury, it could be Bobby Evans (29.8 PFF) at left tackle. Maybe George Karlaftis can finally get a full sack this season.

Matt Skura 50.3 PFF

Coleman Shelton 51.5 PFF (63rd out of 82 guards), backed up by Jeremiah Kolone 36.1 PFF (worst qualifying center in the NFL)

Oday Aboushi 56.0 PFF

Rob Havenstein 69.1 (33rd out of 80 OTs), AJ Arcuri

IR: Brewer, Edwards, Anchrum, Noteboom, Jackson, Bruss

Also hurt: Brian Allen

If Havenstein got injured, would the Rams have the worst OL in the NFL over the last 10 years? Just wondering.

During the 2017 through 2018 period, the Rams had zero major OL injuries, a remarkable run of good fortune. The starters played every single game except for an end of the regular season scrub game when McVay sat his key players to save them for the playoffs.

Are the Lions for Real?

The 4-6 Detroit Lions are only one game better than the 3-7 Rams, but the mindset of the fanbases are going in opposite directions. For Rams fans, the season is essentially over. Meanwhile, the Lions looked to be all but done when they started 1-6, including dropping several close games they potentially could have won. After 3 straight victories, Lions fans are even talking about a possible run for a playoff spot.

I'm not convinced the Lions are that good. Wins against the struggling Packers, Bears and an overachieving Giants team aren't that impressive. Still, the Lions were my pick to be 2022's surprise team, because they had an abnormally good strength of victory score in 2021. The Lions already have more wins than last year (they won 3 and tied one). On Thanksgiving, Detroit plays Buffalo. While unlikely, if the Lions somehow managed to upset the Bills (I guess anything's possible, since the Vikings beat the Bills, then turned around and got stomped by the Cowboys), the idea of Detroit making the playoffs would suddenly feel much more realistic.

Detroit is ranked 32nd in both total defense and scoring defense. Jameson Williams, the former Bama WR, hasn't even played a single game for them. A key factor in why Detroit has remained competitive is the play of their offensive line.

PFF projected Detroit to have the 3rd best OL in the NFL this season. On paper, they have one of the most talented OLs in the league. The problem has been trying to keep their key starters healthy. The projected RG, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was lost for year before the season even started. Frank Ragnow has battled through lingering foot issues. Jonah Jackson had a finger injury and recently suffered a concussion. I don't know his status for the Bills game. Evan Brown, an important player with Vaitai lost, also got hurt and might not be able to play against the Bills.

When the Lions had to go to backups like Logan Stenberg 34.6 PFF (4th round pick 2020) and Dan Skipper 46.7 PFF (70th out of 82 guards) it wasn't always pretty. When all their first choice players are available, the lineup is strong: Taylor Decker 70.7 PFF (for much of the year he was graded lower than Noteboom, but he's come on recently), Jackson 73.7 PFF(11th best OG), Ragnow 77.1 (4th best C), Evan Brown 70.0 PFF, and Penei Sewell 80.1 (8th best OT).

In the draft profile I wrote about Tutu Atwell, complaining about how the Rams passed on OL prospects to take who I considered to be about a 5th round WR prospect, I wrote: "It would be highly ironic if Stafford left the Lions just as they were building one of the top young offensive lines in the NFL and jumped ship to the Rams right as their OL was in decline."

The Lions haven't maxed out their OL potential this year. The Lions are only 18th in pass block win rate. They measure better at run blocking, placing 8th in run block win rate. Essentially, they have played like the 2022 Rams OL was supposed to have performed. ESPN prior to the season projected the Rams to have the 12th best OL overall and to be 9th in pass blocking and 20th in run blocking. The Lions have also had some costly OL penalties this year.

If the Rams fail to fix their OL woes, maybe at some point Stafford could ask the Rams to trade him back to Detroit, where he could benefit from better protection and an effective rushing attack.