Keep starting Michel and Shelton
While the return of offensive center Brian Allen and Darrell Henderson has been met with ‘just start them again, they’re healthy, right?’, from fans, there may be far more to it than that.
You see, it all began when the team constructed the starters to fit the game plan for the offense. If you recall, the LA Rams signed DeSean Jackson, drafted Jacob Harris and Tutu Atwell. There were deep threat weapons designed to leverage the arm strength of new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Offensive lineman Brian Allen is well suited for pass blocking. He is wide-based and is ideal at taking a spot and not moving off it.
Meanwhile, the running attack was counting on the blocking of TE Johnny Mundt, enabling perimeter-threat running back Darrell Henderson to balance out the offense to keep defenses honest. The Rams planned to pass first, and then run at the edges to slow down pass rushers. It worked, at first.
Run the damned ball
Well don’t look now, but those players are long gone. So too is the effectiveness of that game plan. After pulling out to a 7-1 record at mid-season, the same Rams offense was completely ineffective through the duration of a three-game losing streak. Defenses simply shut down the pass, defended the perimeter, and forced the pass-happy Rams to make mistakes. Opponents got the lead and never looked back.
It was not until the Rams were forced to abandon the predictable and obsolete strategy in Week 13 that things turned around. The injured Allen was replaced by the better run-blocker Coleman Shelton at the center. The injured Henderson was replaced by the more physical between-the-tackles running of Sony Michel. The Rams defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then went out and defeated the Arizona Cardinals.
It seems that a mistake-free offense that maintains a reasonable time of possession not only puts points on the board but helps the defense to keep points off the board as well. While some may ignore the way this Rams offense won the past two games, some may not. To those fans, there are plenty of reasons to stay with Coleman Shelton and Sony Michel in this game.