NFL News & Analysis

The consequences of the Los Angeles Rams' team-building strategy are now at the forefront

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay reacts in the second half against the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

They rank 27th in expected points added per play (-0.102). They come in at 29th in points per game (17.3). And they place 28th in turnover differential (-5).

No, those aren’t the stats through seven games of some basement dweller’s offense. Those are your reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Seven games are also enough to say this is who they are. There is no next step. No key drops (only seven all year; fourth-fewest) or fumbles (only two lost all year, both in wins) would have turned the tide. There’s no executing better. There’s just an inconsistent mess.

The reason should be obvious and, in some ways, a cautionary tale. The Rams' offensive line is an unmitigated disaster. In retrospect, Andrew Whitworth’s unaging dominance in pass protection was propping up a house of cards along the offensive line. The problem isn’t simply injuries but, rather, that there’s no even healthy starter the unit can rely on. Los Angeles' offensive line doesn’t have a single player with a pass-blocking grade above 70.0 through Week 7. They are currently the second-lowest graded offensive line in the NFL. While they rank 16th in passing snaps (288), the Rams' front five has given up the second-most pressures in the league (97).

The uneasy foundation Los Angeles' offense is built upon didn’t start with Whitworth’s retirement, however. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the Rams' team-building method known colloquially as “stars and scrubs.” More accurately, I’d call it “trading away all your top draft picks for proven commodities.” The problem they are now running into — and it may not surprise you to hear this — is that it's difficult to find quality offensive linemen.

That's especially true when a team hasn’t drafted a single one with a top-75 pick since 2015, as is the case with the Rams. Of the 23 Pro Bowlers and Pro Bowl alternates from a season ago, only five were taken outside the top 75 picks (and only one tackle in Orlando Brown Jr.). Below are the Rams' draft picks allocated to their offensive line in the past seven drafts:

Year Draft Pick Player Position 2022 Snaps 2022 Grade
2018 89 Joseph Noteboom OT 325 67
2018 192 Jamil Demby OT N/A N/A
2019 97 Bobby Evans OG 215 37.9
2019 169 David Edwards OG 230 58.2
2020 250 Tremayne Anchrum OT 2 N/A
2022 104 Logan Bruss OG N/A N/A
2022 261 A.J. Arcuri OT N/A N/A

The PFF pick value chart equates those picks to a four-year WAR of .881 —a bottom-five mark in the NFL over that span. For comparison, the Philadelphia Eagles, who currently own PFF’s top-ranked offensive line and are undefeated, have spent pick value equaling a 2.078 four-year WAR in the past seven drafts, even with two holdover starters in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson from before that time span.

The Rams are, for all intents and purposes, getting what they paid for. And while we’ve highlighted how disastrous it’s been to their passing attack, it’s also brought their run game to a standstill. Their 3.3-yard average per carry as a team is second-worst in the league, and their .9 yards before contact per attempt is third-worst. With three Week 1 starters along the offensive line on injured reserve, reinforcements aren’t walking through that door anytime soon.

The Rams capitalized on their Super Bowl window, but it’s a window that has abruptly slammed shut. 

You've got the first pick with your finances. Western Southern Financial Group.
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