Making LA Rams offensive line a strength in 2023 in 3-2-1 steps
By Bret Stuter
Step II: Set up a realistic OL starting five for 2023
The LA Rams failed at this step in 2022. It’s not who the Rams went with for the starting five, but rather the fact that the team ignored their players’ injury concerns. Had the Rams taken this step, they would have found a way to compete a little better as injuries began to afflict their offensive line.
For starters, the plan to back up the center position with a starting right guard was fraught with bad planning. If the center falls (he did in the first game), the only recourse for the team is not just to place a new center to anchor the offensive line, hike the football to the quarterback, and call the protections, but now the team has two positions who have changed suddenly.
That’s exactly what happened when the LA Rams lost starting center Brian Allen after Week 1. The team was forced to move Coleman Shelton to center, and backfill Shelton’s right guard position with Tremayne Anchrum Jr. On paper, that was a solid move, but Anchrum broke his leg in the first snap and tried to play another offensive snap on that broken leg. That immediately pushed the Rams’ offensive line, already reeling from a horrific season opener, on their heels for the rest of this season.
Preventing the dominoes effect of offensive linemen’ injuries
So how could this have been prevented?
The Rams could have prevented this simply with a backup center on this roster. While I think that Jeremiah Kolone was a great player to have on the practice squad for emergencies, the Rams roster was set up to burn through Allen and Shelton, getting to Kolone far too quickly for the team to have sufficient time to prepare him for the possibility of starting.
The Rams missed the mark on more than backing up the center position. Their insistence to force the square-pegged offensive tackle Bobby Evans into that round-hole interior offensive line role was a tragedy to both the player and the team. Evans was heartbroken after games because he is just not made to play inside. But that is where the team continued to place him, to the fans’ utter shock and disappointment.
That’s the step that the Rams need to take in 2023. After the team has gathered offensive line talent, the team must take that extra step to ensure durability is addressed either at the starting or backup role for each offensive position. That may require the Rams to carry nine or ten offensive linemen on their final roster, but that beats the scramble to sign free agents to the team mid-season because the depth has been exhausted by Week 4. Just food for thought.