When Coleman Shelton plays OC, the LA Rams can run

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Am I the only one who sees the connection between the LA Rams’ ability to put up 100 yards with one running back and the team playing Coleman Shelton at the offensive center position? Surely I cannot be the only one. There are far too many data analysts among the Rams fanbase to miss that. But nobody is talking about it. Why is that?  And perhaps more importantly, can we change it?

In the past two seasons, the LA Rams have had a running back rush for over 100 yards just three times. Veteran RB Sony Michel accomplished that feat twice during the 2021 NFL season. The first occasion was a 24-rushes 121 yards,  one touchdown performance on December 5, 2021, against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In that game, starting center Brian Allen played just one offensive snap before falling to injury. Shelton played 67 offensive snaps at center in relief in that game.

The second occasion for Michel to break 100 yards rushing occured on December 28, 2021, against a tough Minnesota Vikings defense. Coleman Shelton started that game, playing 70 offensive snaps. In response, Michel rushed 27 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. Those were the only two games with a 100-yard rusher for the Rams.

And veteran RB Cam Akers has accomplished that feat just once in the 2022 NFL season. It was against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day, and RB Cam Akers exploded for 27 rushes for 118 yards and three touchdowns. And yes, the LA Rams offensive center was, once again, Coleman Shelton.

Coleman Shelton loves to block downfield

One final note, the LA Rams won all three games quite handily. The margin of victory in those three games was +74. You see, the Rams scored 37, 30, and 51 points, while their opponents scored 7, 23, and 14 points respectively.

The Rams’ offense plays much better with a vibrant running attack. I believe that one of the key ingredients to that vibrant running attack is playing Coleman Shelton at the offensive center. In the past and on only three occasions for an LA Rams running back to break 100 yards, Shelton has been the guy.

So what is it about Shelton that delivers such outstanding performances by a Rams rusher? Well, if you watch those games, he does not settle for one block. Rather he makes every attempt to get in front of the play and block downfield. On many occasions, it’s that second or third block by Shelton that springs a runner into the open field.

As many will weigh in on speculation about the LA Rams’ offensive line, keep in mind that it’s about winning, gaining yards, and putting a balanced and unpredictable offense onto the football field each and every NFL Sunday. While no offensive lineman is perfect, I like the results that the Rams get with Shelton at the center spot.

Without Shelton there, no LA Rams rusher has broken 100 yards in two seasons.  That’s tough to ignore. But I keep wondering if I am the only one connecting those dots?

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