After the LA Rams offensive line surrendered seven quarterback sacks in one game, there has been a lot of disappointment in their overall performance. But even amidst the poor overall play in the game, there were some good plays.
Think of the Rams’ offensive line like a hand with four fingers and a thumb. Now, we know in the post-game wrap-up that two fingers were damaged, and four fingers were a bit clumsy as a result, but one finger is just fine. That one finger is right guard, soon-to-be center, Coleman Shelton.
How can I say that? Well, I watched the game. And then, I watched it again. And then I checked out the post-game scoring from Pro Football Focus for the Rams’ first game. What did I find?
Joe Noteboom – 0 penalties, 3 sacks allowed
David Edwards – 1 penalty, 2 sacks allowed
Brian Allen – 0 penalties, 1 sack allowed
Coleman Shelton – 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed
Rob Havenstein – 0 penalties, 1 sack allowed
Nothing that I’m saying here is new information. In fact, we’d claimed rather quickly after the loss that the offensive line may not be worse for the Week 2 substitution planned, where the LA Rams will move Coleman Shelton to center, and slide Tremayne Anchrum in at right guard.
Coleman Shelton makes great decisions
After watching the game for the third time, I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before. The LA Rams’ offensive linemen and running back made some poor decisions in the opener. What do I mean?
Well, on one play, that is going a bit viral due to the half-arsed effort by RB Cam Akers to pick up a defender in pass blocking, you will notice that the Buffalo Bills’ defensive line has shifted to the Rams’ right. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips lined up inside of Rams left guard David Edwards. What happened next?
The Buffalo Bills showed a five-man rush look, forcing the Rams’ center Brian Allen to commit to blocking Bills defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. But that instant decision was the wrong one, as Phillips’s inside presence allowed him to scoot by a nearly hapless left guard, David Edwards, for a quick sack of Stafford.
The play committed Allen to double up on Jones, leaving a wide rushing lane for Phillips to get to Stafford very quickly. How effective was Phillips? He was incredibly effective. Conversely, left guard David Edwards was not so much. It was a play that the Bills would use multiple times. Edwards, like Noteboom, had a very poor showing.
An offensive line, like a hand with five fingers, is viewed as one group. But we know that offensive left tackle Joe Noteboom and offensive center Brian Allen were injured during the game. So we don’t know when their play suffered from injury.
What we do know is that Coleman Shelton made some great plays. He helped move the pile after WR Cooper Kupp was stopped short, and allowed the Rams to move the chains.
And he has made it a matter of his track record to make smart decisions whenever he gets on the football field. That’s why I feel confident in his ability to block at the point of attack.
Offensive linemen must make decisions that are vital to the outcome of the play at every snap. But a lineman can make a wrong decision, and still block a defender, but in the process, allow another defender to have a free run at the quarterback. That does not happen often with Coleman Shelton.
Sometimes it comes down to not just making blocks. Sometimes it’s a matter of making the right blocks. LA Rams offensive lineman Coleman Shelton makes the right ones.