Patience, not money, fixes LA Rams offensive line woes

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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LA Ramss Andrew Whitworth
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams offensive line played poorly and injured often in 2019. But patience, not money, will prove more important for the long term fix

The LA Rams offense was not a complete train wreck in 2019. But the offensive production plummeted from the year before. Did the Rams simply face stiffer defenses? Did injuries play a bigger role in the decline? And ultimately, does it mean the team needs to blow up the offensive line and start completely over? Or is this the time for restraint and patience? Where do we begin?

To begin with, the LA Rams offensive line for Super Bowl 53 was left tackle Andrew Whitworth, left guard Rodger Saffold, center John Sullivan, right guard Austin Blythe and right tackle Rob Havenstein.  But the team lost Saffold to the Tennessee Titans in free agency, and declined to bring back Sullivan in 2019.  For an offensive line which played practically two entire seasons intact, these changes were more significant than anyone could imagine.

New season new offensive line

After the 2019 training camp, the Rams started the 2019 season projecting these starters on the offensive line:  Left tackle – Andrew Whitworth, left guard Joseph Noteboom (second year player, replacing free agent Safford), center Brian Allen (replacing Sullivan), right guard Austin Blythe, and right tackle Rob Havenstein.  Even without any injury pressure, the Rams entered 2019 with two new offensive linemen, and a schedule which brought the Rams to face the best of the NFL.

Both Allen and Noteboom felt ready to crack the Rams starting lineup. But the team failed to recognize placing two “rookies” side by side meant a significant adjustment period for everyone on that offensive line.  Both Allen and Noteboom put in the hours to learn NFL offenses and defenses as they played behind Safford and Sullivan.  But there is a huge difference in studying film and applying that knowledge real time.