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Rams Positional Outlook: Offensive Line

Posted Feb 14, 2018

A look at how Los Angeles' offensive line performed in 2017 and how the Rams are set up heading into the new league year in mid-March.

The 2017 Rams won their first NFC West title since 2003 with an 11-5 regular-season record. As Los Angeles’ focus shifts to 2018 and beyond, we’ll take a position-by-position look at how the Rams performed in 2017 and how each group currently stands at the start of the 2018 offseason.

OFFENSIVE LINE

G | Jamon Brown

— 16 games played, 16 game started.

G | Rodger Saffold

— 15 games played, 15 games started.

C | John Sullivan

— 15 games played, 15 games started. 

T | Andrew Whitworth *^

— 15 games played, 15 games started.

T | Rob Havenstein

15 games played, 15 games started.

C | Austin Blythe

— 16 games played, one game started. 

T | Darrell Williams

— 16 games played, one game started.

T | Cornelius Lucas

— One game played, one game started.

C/G | Aaron Neary

— One game played, one game started.

OL | Jake Eldrenkamp

— Eldrenkamp signed a futures contract with the Rams.

*Pro Bowl

^All-Pro

ANY FREE AGENTS?

Sullivan and Lucas will be unrestricted free agents, while Williams will be a restricted free agent at the start of the new league year in March. 

LOOK BACK, LOOK AHEAD

The Rams underwent a major overhaul of their offensive line during the offseason — adding  veteran linemen Whitworth and Sullivan. The two have a combined 23 NFL seasons between them and helped elevate the play of Saffold, Havenstein, and Brown throughout 2017.

While the Los Angeles’ offense as a whole surged under head coach Sean McVay — finishing the regular season No. 1 in scoring — the front five were key to the Rams’ success. All five lineman started the first 15 games, bringing much-needed consistency to the offense.

After giving up 49 sacks in 2016, the Rams gave up just 28 sacks on the season, according to Pro Football Focus. Quarterback Jared Goff was given much more protection up front, allowing him to throw for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns. Last year the Cal product was sacked 26 times in seven games, but was sacked just 25 times in 15 games in 2017. 

Plus, the unit was able to limit negative runs to finish the year with 17 rushing touchdowns.

Per PFF, Whitworth and Saffold allowed just seven sacks and eight quarterback hits. But Sullivan had a solid campaign as well, allowing just one sack on the season. The right side was equally as impressive as Brown and Havenstein showcased significant year-over-year improvements.

Scheme and execution allowed the Rams to open up run lanes, as the team's 1.89 average rushing yards before contact ranked No. 2 in the league. And according to PFF, no team was better than Los Angeles at opening holes through the middle, as the club produced 3.02 an average of 3.02 yards per contact.

The starting O-line remained healthy throughout the year so the reserves did not have many opportunities. But because of the Rams practice schedule — which allows for several veteran rest days throughout the week — Blythe and Williams received extended time practicing alongside the starters. That preparation paid off several times when they were asked to step up into game action, especially in Week 17 when Brown was the only starter to take the field.