LA Rams Joseph Noteboom has earned the privilege of starting at LT

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Rams Joseph Noteboom has endured tremendous adversity to claim the right to start for LA Rams at left tackle

The LA Rams offensive line did not do much to impress analysts in 2019. Over the course of one season, the team ultimately replaced four of five starters due to injuries. In some cases, the same position had three or more players in a starting role. In the midst of 2019’s season-to-forget was the knee injury to left guard Joseph Noteboom.

Noteboom was the Rams’ young solution to replacing left guard Rodger Saffold. That was an unenviable position for a young man making his first NFL start in an unfamiliar position. The interior offensive lineman sees much faster and diverse movement. The blocking assignment can change from defensive tackle to nose tackle to linebacker to defensive end, and each different scenario must be met effectively. In a quick summary, Noteboom did not perform as hoped before his season ended. His season ended quickly and without much gratitude for giving his all.

Second verse

Noteboom came back with a vengeance in 2020.  While many expected the Rams to release Noteboom, or at most keep him for a backup, we kept our jury out on the young man. After all, he was a starter in 2019 for a reason. And he persevered through a great deal of adversity both on the football field and in rehabilitation.

Noteboom looks the part of a left tackle. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 321 pounds. He bulked up for the 2020 NFL season and came ready to play. Despite a calf injury, Noteboom contributed to a solid start to the new year.  After he returned from IR, the Rams were forced to promote the now-healthy Noteboom to cover for the injured veteran left tackle, Andrew Whitworth.

In two seasons, Noteboom was asked to fill the shoes of Saffold and Whitworth. That is a sure-fire path to failure.

What’s changed?

The fact is that the LA Rams have placed Joseph Noteboom into difficult spots in two consecutive seasons. But there are reasons why he could pan out very well at the left tackle position for the LA Rams. First and foremost, that is his natural position. As such, he will play naturally there. His instincts for the role are better and he’s simply a better big body on the left side than in the interior.

Secondly, he now has experience playing on the interior. That means that he understands what the player to his immediate right, the left guard, faces on every play. Offensive linemen succeed not only from an individual’s play, but they work in unison and cooperatively to ensure success as a unit.  With Noteboom’s understanding of the left guard role, he becomes better at left tackle and as an overall teammate as a result.

Rallying around Noteboom

Most of all, he’s been injured twice and had to fight hard to return to the starting lineup on each occasion. While that could be used to argue that he will not succeed, the fact is that he’s gotten back up after each injury and rehabbed himself into even better shape than before. We know that he played well enough against the Seattle Seahawks. And the Rams have already baked in ways for the offense to chip or even all-out block defenders to help Noteboom out.

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This is a team sport. Noteboom won’t succeed at the offensive left tackle position because he is a gifted individual player. He will succeed because the Rams offensive line will rally around him.  After the debacle of ignoring offensive linemen a year ago, the offense knows that success this season must include ensuring that it starts at the line of scrimmage.  Yes, Joseph Noteboom is taking over at left tackle. But this time, he is not going it alone.