I: OL Coach Ryan Wendall
The LA Rams knew that their next Offensive Line Coach would be one of the most important hires of 2023. The Rams offensive line was not just beset upon by injuries throughout the 2022 NFL season, but the sheer need to sign NFL veterans off the street to plug into starting roles for the team created a lot of chaos. That all served to demoralize the group as the team readied for the 2023 NFL season.
The topic of how the Rams roster might address the struggling offensive line reached such a fever pitch among Rams fans on social media that Rams OT Alaric Jackson offered up 2 solutions as possible fixes for 2023.
Well, neither scenario proved to be an ultimate solution for the LA Rams offensive line in 2023. But you have to give first-year OL Coach Ryan Wendall kudos for identifying the absolute need for the Rams draft to address the group by priooriting a stoudt and powerful rookie to take over for Rams veteran LG David Edwards.
The LA Rams drafted rookie IOL Steve Avial with the 36th overall pick in Round 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and with that selection announced to the NFL in no uncertain terms that the Rams offensive line was a huge priority.
The matter may have become a second rendition of the disappointment of 2022 when second year IOL Logan Bruss failed to meet the Rams expectations to compete as their starting right guard. In response, the Rams front office pulled off an under-the-radar trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acquire IOL Kevin Dotson.
Coach Wendall had a plan, and with Dotson sliding in as the Rams new starting right guard, the plan for the offensive line began to take shape. The Rams starting five offensive linemen became:
- Alaric Jackson - left tackle
- Steve Avila - rookie left guard
- Coleman Shelton - offensive center
- Kevin Dotson - right guard
- Rob Havenstein - right tackle
- Joe Noteboom - swing tackle
The LA Rams offensive line proven to be formidable in pass protection in 2023, only surrendering 34 quarterback sacks, good enough to be the sixth-least number of quarterback sacks allowed this season. Beyond that, the Rams have rushed for 120.1 yards per game, good enough to end the season as the 11th-most proficient ground assault in the NFL this year.
But at the BYE in Week 10, the Rams were not even among the Top 20 NFL rushing offenses.
The LA Rams won seven of their last eight games because, quite frankly, the offensive line began to click and that powered the entire Rams team to become the hottest team in the NFL right now.
And now we all know a bit more about the coaches who helped make it all happen this year.