Extending OC Coleman Shelton could transform LA Rams 2022 OL

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

What will the LA Rams be up to for the 2022 NFL season? That’s a tough call because the team continues to assemble the coaching staff, and has yet to make a meaningful roster move. But just be patient, and observe. Clues are coming. What do I mean?

You can learn quite a bit about the world around you from simple observations. For example, you can predict the severity of the upcoming winter based upon the thickness and color of the coat of animal fur. Some native Americans look to the colors of the surrounding flora to give clues as to long-range weather forecasts. Punxsutawney Pennsylvania relies upon a groundhog named Phil to predict the coming of spring.

The keystone to the LA Rams offseason efforts hinges upon how the LA Rams handle the extension of backup offensive center, Coleman Shelton. Why is a backup, and relatively inexpensive, offensive lineman my focus? Simply stated, the LA Rams reveal the plans of their entire offensive line for 2022 based upon what they do with Shelton.

Run Sony run

What we learned about the LA Rams in the 2021 NFL season is that the offense was a very good rushing offense, as long as certain conditions were met. Those conditions were Coleman Shelton needed to be hiking the football, and RB Sony Michel needed to be the featured running back.

Coleman Shelton had three games in the 2021 NFL Season where he played more than 50 offensive snaps. How well did the Rams rush in those games?  In Week 12, Michel rushed 24 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. In Week 13, Michel rushed 20 times for 79 yards. In Week 16, Michel rushed 27 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. In three games, the pair combined to generate 71 rushes for 331 yards and two touchdowns.

Okay, so surely the offense traded out a less effective pass blocking structure, right? Well, in those same three games, Rams QB Matthew Stafford threw 70 of 105 passes for 779 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. And in those three games, he was only sacked four times.

Shelton means a renewed running attack

Of course, when Brian Allen was healthy enough to return to the football field, Shelton was returned to the bench. But the lesson from those three ‘starts’ was not missed by us. So how do we make the grand leap from extending the backup offensive center to transforming the LA Rams 2022 offensive line?

If the Rams do not extend Allen but do re-sign Shelton, that could be a clear indication that the Rams are looking to improve their ground attack. With Shelton aboard, the Rams would be wise to extend OT Joseph Noteboom, a player who is also rather good at pulling and blocking downfield. From what we observed against the Minnesota Vikings, the Rams could install A.J. Jackson in at left tackle, install Noteboom at right guard, and Shelton in at offensive center, and then simply use the 2022 NFL Draft to replenish the ranks.

If the Rams bring back Allen, the initial impression would be that the Rams do not value the running game as much as years past and that the team will likely emphasize their passing potential throughout the offseason. While I would prefer the team to bring back Shelton, I could see reasons to focus on Brian Allen instead.

It’s really quite simple. If the Rams wish to run in 2022, they will put Coleman Shelton in as their starting center. Anything else means the emphasis will remain on QB Matthew Stafford’s arm.

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