You’ve got to see LA Rams Joseph Noteboom to believe him

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

LA Rams LG Joseph Noteboom had a tough 2019. But so far 2020 is going his way. The difference is like night and day

The way the season ended for LA Rams left guard Joseph Noteboom in 2019 was as unpleasant as his first year starting on the offensive line. A young man who had played offensive tackle for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs football team found himself starting at left guard. While he lined up to the Rams venerable left tackle Andrew Whitworth, he also lined next to another first-time starter on the offensive line, center Brian Allen.

The Rams started the season by winning three games before losing a trap game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  After the next game against the San Francisco 49ers was tied up at 7-7, the Rams offense took the field.  On a third down and six yards to go, Rams quarterback Jared Goff dropped back to pass.  This video shows the play, in full, beginning at the 1:45 mark.

Noteboom goes boom

Center Brian Allen chose to double team with the right guard, letting the blitzing A-gap linebacker Kwon Alexander through. Running back Malcolm Brown picked him up.  Meanwhile, Joseph Noteboom engaged defensive end Ronald Blair as Andrew Whitworth engaged Nick Bosa. Allen then pivoted and shoved Alexander to the ground, behind Noteboom.  Noteboom tripped over Alexander, injuring his knee and ending his season.

The LA Rams running game failed to gain 100 yards on the ground for the following four games, It was not until the Rams designed a running game with TE Johnny Mundt lining up in the backfield that the Rams were able to run over 100 yards once more. Before that injury, the LA Rams were 3-1.  The Rams would only go 6-6 for the rest of the season.

Dominoes effect

That is not to assign blame for the injury that benched Noteboom last season. But it does demonstrate that the Rams running game, while it struggled last season, had better than a 120 yards average per game in the three season-opening victories. While Joseph Noteboom only graded out as 39.6 for 2019 by Pro Football Focus, he was a very impressive 70.7 the previous season.

The offensive line is more of a unit than a single player. The Rams struggled to pick up A-Gap blitzes. That struggle forced both guards – Noteboom and Austin Blythe – to turn inwards. That in turn forced the offensive tackles to lean inwards as well. A dominoes effect that plagued the Rams all season.

Noteboom needed for Rams running game

Noteboom is a solid offensive guard because he can get a push on running plays, and he is pretty good at pulling to be a lead blocker for inside runs. This year, he will be even better because, in his own words, he’s “lost weight” and “gained strength”.  That’s pretty good for a player who is coming back from a reconstructed knee. And the 6-foot-5 306-pound offensive lineman is eager to show his stuff this year. Keep in mind that he runs a 4.96-second 40-yard dash. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s incredibly fast.

And he’s back for another season.

Offensive linemen take time to develop. We pushed hard for a second chance for Joseph Noteboom months ago, simply because he deserves a chance to take charge at offensive line. In fact, the devastating adversity he endured last season may be the energy to propel him into one of the better young offensive linemen this year.

Rams athletic department deserves some credit

The Rams’ athletic staff, some of the best in the NFL, worked tirelessly with Noteboom to get him back to full health. It worked for Cooper Kupp in 2019. Now, it will work for Joseph Noteboom and Micah Kiser this year. Not just by rehabilitating an injured joint of an NFL player. But the group restores the player’s confidence, the love for the game, and the positive outlook necessary to train and drill over and over.

Joseph Noteboom is back, and he’s better than ever.  Head coach Sean McVay thinks he looks comfortable, healthy, very explosive and strong. Two things matter for Noteboom this year. (A) – what the coaches think and (B) – how well he plays. Not mincing words, the Rams offensive line kinda stunk up the joint last season. But now, the team can take a breath, diagnose last year’s difficulties, and plan methods to overcome those challenges.

He’s back and bad-assed!

Joseph Noteboom is back, and better than ever. He’s not a loud young man. He’s not a shouter. He’s intelligent, he’s well-spoken, he’s confident, and as you listen to him talk about training camp so far, you can feel the positive mojo. If the Rams can put together a solid performance from this offensive line, the season will be a lot of fun. Noteboom is far better than expected right now. If the Rams can get the same out of Rob Havenstein, the offensive line could be significantly improved.

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Noteboom has lost 15 pounds. He’s ripped. And while he still acquiesces to the “wherever the coach puts me” role that he is given, this is no longer a wide-eyed young man. Some may have closed off their minds to a comeback season for him. We haven’t. In fact, we expect it.  Great players are not players who never fail. Great players are those that get back up stronger than ever.
That’s a perfect description of what left guard Joseph Noteboom has demonstrated so far this season.