The LA Rams have problems with their offensive line. That is something that I believe everyone can agree on. Where we start to separate is when we start to look at what the team can and should do about it.
We knew going into the 2022 NFL season that the LA Rams, or any NFL team for that matter, would only go so far as the team’s ability to stay healthy. In 2021, the Rams remained relatively healthy on the offensive line and were fortunate to find adequate reinforcements at other positions on the Rams roster by acquiring talented veterans as well. Players like OLB Von Miller and WR Odell Beckham Jr. arrived just as the team needed them most.
But let’s not kid ourselves. The Rams lost three consecutive games in the 2021 NFL season which felt a great deal like the 2-3 season has felt so far this year. We know the list of usual suspects, but exactly how much of this was preventable? Perhaps more than we might realize.
LA Rams’ three defeats came in the wake of player injuries
Just as the Rams are ‘playing the odds’ at quarterback, relying upon the durability of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, the LA Rams roster construction for the 2022 NFL season was very optimistic.
The team went with eight offensive linemen, planned for the starting right guard to cover as the backup center, and truly had no interior offensive linemen on the team’s active roster. I believe that the Rams had two solid backups on the roster with both Tremayne Anchrum and Alaric Jackson. But that initial loss of rookie Logan Bruss seemed to unnerve the team.
As of today, October 10, 2022, the LA Rams have the following offensive linemen on the roster:
Brian Allen (injured, knee)
Matt Skura (veteran, signed 9/21 to PS, 10/8 to active roster)
Jeremiah Kolone (signed 9/14 from PS to active roster) Starter
Oday Aboushi (veteran, signed 9/14 to PS, signed 9/20 to active roster)
David Edwards (injured, second concussion)
Alaric Jackson (started RG after Tremayne Anchrum broke his leg)
Coleman Shelton (injured, high ankle sprain)
If Brian Allen is unable to play, the Rams will only have Oday Aboushi and Matt Skura as offensive linemen who can substitute in for injured players. On the practice squad, the team has OL Chandler Brewer, rookie AJ Arcuri, and IPP prospect Max Pircher. Truth be told, I’d be most comfortable seeing Pircher elevated for this week’s game.
You get what you pay for
How did the Rams get here? Well, injuries. The Rams already have three offensive linemen on IR, three more offensive linemen who are not on injured reserve, but who has been absent for multiple games in just the first five games of the season. Six injuries in five games are awfully tough to absorb on a unit that starts five and only kept three players around on the active roster.
But three offensive linemen, all three of whom were original starters will be back.
But perhaps the more compelling question is how did the Rams burn through their offensive line talent so quickly? Well, for starters, this is not a team that drafts offensive linemen very often.
Draft Player name Pick
2022 Logan Bruss 104
2022 AJ Arcuri 261
2021 Alaric Jackson UDFA
2020 Tremayne Anchrum 250
2019 Bobby Evans 97
2019 David Edwards 169
2018 Joe Noteboom 89
2018 Brian Allen 111
2015 Rob Havenstein 57
Other players were signed as free agents or from other teams’ practice squads. As you can see, the Rams have not invested many early picks into the offensive line. But more importantly, the LA Rams do not invest much of their salary cap into the offensive line either. Per Spotrac.com, the Rams’ offensive line is the 29th-ranked unit in terms of compensation at $16.7 million. Compare that to the NFL average of $27.4 million, and you see that this is more than lowly draft picks.
Curiously, the Rams spending $4.6 million in compensation for their running backs is also the 29th-ranked unit in terms of NFL RB groups. The NFL average is spending $8.8 million on running backs. Funny how that works, eh?
Risks and rewards. The Rams accepted these same risks in 2021, and the reward was a Super Bowl victory. This year, the gambles have not paid off. Players will heal. Lessons will be learned. But one thing is certain. The dominoes fall both ways. This year the Rams are struggling for multiple reasons. Now, it’s up to the same Rams organization to find some way to get back on its feet.