Los Angeles Rams have seen huge impact from John Sullivan

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 03: Running back Todd Gurley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 03: Running back Todd Gurley /

The Los Angeles Rams decided to re-sign John Sullivan to a two-year, $10.75 million deal during the 2018 offseason to help keep the Rams signal caller for the offensive line going forward.

During the 2016 offseason, the Los Angeles Rams were undergoing a regime change from having Jeff Fisher as their head coach to newly hired Sean McVay. Without wasting any time, McVay immediately went to work trying to bulk up his offensive line to protect his new quarterback in Jared Goff and improve the run game following a disappointing season from Todd Gurley.

Right away, the Rams decided to sign free agents Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan, two veteran offensive lineman.

Everybody talks about the huge difference that All-Pro left tackle Whitworth has made, but fail to acknowledge the impact Sullivan has made on the Los Angeles line as a whole. Sullivan started in 15 games for the Rams in 2017 and allowed just one sack all season. That’s huge for a team that was looking for consistency and leadership from their offensive line.

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In 2016, the Rams as a whole allowed 49 sacks. It was a pretty rough year for the Rams that season, but the tide shifted in 2017. The Rams as a team allowed just 28 sacks in 2017, ranking them ninth in the NFL. That’s a major upgrade from the prior season, and it’s no coincidence that Sullivan was literally right in the middle of it (yes, a center pun).

Allowing just 28 sacks is huge especially for the development of a young quarterback like Goff. It wasn’t just the pass protection that saw improvement for Los Angeles, as the run game saw a complete overhaul as well.

In 2016, the Rams as a team ranked 31st in rushing, having just 1,252 yards on the ground to go along with nine touchdowns, and an abysmal 3.3 yards per carry. Gurley alone had 278 carries for 875 yards and just six touchdowns. It was hard to not improve off of that the following season, but the major progression in 2017 was jaw-dropping.

The Rams in 2017 ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing with 1,953 yards, 17 touchdowns and a whopping 4.3 yards per carry. Gurley also had a season where he won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, totaling 1,305 yards on 279 carries (one more than the previous year) and 13 touchdowns. Gurley owes a lot of his success this previous season to Sullivan and company.

According to the Los Angeles Rams Pro Football Focus, the Rams were fourth in the NFL in yards gained before first contact in 2017, improving from being tied 31st in the NFL in 2016.

This shows the type of push the Rams offensive line was creating and it starts from the signal caller on the interior, the center and the rest of the big guys. The Rams made improvements across the board like in points scored per game.

In 2016 the Rams were dead last in the NFL with 14 points per game. but made NFL history last season by becoming the first team to go from worst to first in scoring, averaging 29.9 points per game. Everyone on the Rams did their part on being able to accomplish this, including the offensive line that doesn’t always get their props.

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Gurley had every reasonto feel frustration in 2016, and infamously stated the Rams’ offense was a “middle-school offense” at one point. I don’t think we’ll have to hear him say that again because of the personnel and winning mentality the Rams have created in just one season, especially because of signing guys like Sullivan that will still make a huge piece that factors into the Rams success.