The Los Angeles Rams picked up a big win against a divisional opponent in the Arizona Cardinals to get back to .500 at 3-3. It was a tale of two halves, with LA being mostly ineffective through the first two quarters, but then making some major adjustments to score 20 unanswered points and pitch a shut out on defense in the second half (to their credit, the defense did not allow a touchdown for the entirety of the game either).
One of the keys to the second half surge was the holes the offensive line was opening for running back Kyren Williams. After only having five yards rushing in the first half, LA recommitted to the run and was able to adjust and put together a 179 yard rushing effort, with 103 yards coming in the third quarter alone. The offensive line did give up three sacks and struggled in the first half, but they were the best looking combination since 2021 after halftime. In my eyes, left tackle Alaric Jackson solidified his role as the best fit at left tackle we have on the roster Sunday, and while he has his own faults, after watching Noteboom, Thomas and McClendon struggle to fill in over the last few weeks, it’s no question anymore.
The size addition of rookie Steve Avila at left guard, Coleman Shelton at center, and I would argue most of all, the insertion of Kevin Dotson at right guard, has made for a very physical run blocking group in the middle. I just cannot see a scenario where you put Noteboom back on the field over Dotson once he’s healthy again, as Dotson looks like the best offensive linemen on the team right now and currently sports a 79.0 overall score on PFF, the highest rating of all offensive linemen on the team.
Kyren Williams— Chris O'Brien (@17gamepace) October 16, 2023
•21.8 points (RB3)
•RB3 on the week
Kyren continues to dominate snaps and touches for Ram’s RBs
He’s now finished as a top 7 RB in 67% of his games
Dotson also had a PFF grade of 86.0 specifically in the Cardinals game, with right tackle Rob Havenstein right behind him with a score of 82.7, Both are high marks as far as offensive linemen go, and shows Dotson continuing his success since taking over the right guard position from Noteboom.
With the trade deadline approaching on Oct. 31, it would not be surprising to see the Rams move either Noteboom or Brian Allen at center. Trading Noteboom would save L.A. $10 million in cash next season, and while I think the Rams probably end up keeping both for depth insurance given that neither is going to draw much trade value outside of late round swaps again, it is possible that LA may just want to wash their hands of Noteboom and his inflated contract once and for all, especially given Dotson’s play and how well the current group of five is starting to gel.
The offensive line was opening some good holes, however, that does not take away from the special performance put on by Kyren Williams in any way. The Rams second-year back was running angry after not being given opportunities in the first half, something that head coach Sean McVay will need to question about his own play calling going forward.
Williams averaged 7.9 yards on 20 total carries, totaling 158 yards and adding another touchdown to his season, ranking him fifth among all running backs. His vision was crisp and he was physical at the point of contact, consistently running over Cardinals defenders. During a highlights of the Rams-Cardinals game Monday, Kyle Brandt of NFL’s Network’s Good Morning Football said Williams would probably be showing up on his segment “Angry Runs” Tuesday for his efforts vs. Arizona.
Great line from @Geraldini93 on NFL Network tonight, on Kyren Williams' touchdown run: "He stiff-armed one person to get to three people, then he ran them over too."— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 16, 2023
When asked about the second half adjustments after the game, right tackle Rob Havenstein said “Wasn’t so much about ‘adjustments’ as it was about making a statement”. The Rams will need to continue to push for balance in both the run and pass game going forward.
If what Havenstein said is true, and this is a statement game for Los Angeles, then they may have finally found their identity on offense six games into the season. This could bode well for LA heading into a matchup next week with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who, despite having T.J. Watt on the defensive line, have been very susceptible to the run this season.