II – Trust OT Havenstein
Some say that trust is never given, it is earned. But in the matter of trust, it can never be earned until someone gives their trust. Then, and only then, that trust can be proven or disproven to have been well-placed. So the challenge for the LA Rams was whether or not to trust right tackle Rob Havenstein to start in 2020. After all, the performance in 2019 was not one that lent much confidence for 2020.
The challenge was in diagnosing the root cause of 2019’s poor offensive line performance. The Rams were having a tough time blowing defenses off the ball before the offensive line injuries began. So it was a matter of where the shortcomings began. If the problem was a uniform collapse of the line, then lining up Rob Havenstein at right tackle once more would simply result in the same outcome as 2019. If Havenstein suffered from trying to compensate for poor interior line play, then the Rams would be wise to restore him to his starting role.
Center of the problem
While I did not sit in on any coaching discussions, nor in diagnosing plays, my attempts to hone in on the root cause ended up at the same place – the center position. The Rams struggled at the center, which pulled guards inward to help protect the middle of the offensive line, which forced offensive tackles to do the same. It was so bad that Joseph Noteboom’s season-ending injury last year occurred when a frustrated Brian Allen blocked a defender to fall behind an engaged Noteboom. Noteboom fell awkwardly backward and tore his knee’s ACL and MCL.
Havenstein suffered from the erratic play of his teammates, as he found himself out of position to block his responsibility by trying to cheat inwards. After falling to injury himself in 2019, he was forced to watch from the sidelines and prepare for a new season in 2020. In the off-season, he worked out with his teammate Andrew Whitworth. Working out with the venerable Whitworth was a good choice, as Havenstein was able to refocus on playing offensive tackle once more.