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Rams need to fix offensive line issues for turnaround

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To Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFC West Lighter

With constant wickets along the offensive line limiting the team’s productivity, Rams coach Sean McVay has no choice.

The defending Super Bowl champion has struggled to defend Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford. The consistent pressure has contributed to his 10 turnovers, his NFL-most for Stafford, tying him with his QB Matt Ryan for the Colts.

Stafford has more interceptions (7) than touchdown passes (5) in five games for the first time since 2015. The Rams have allowed the most pressure in five games this season (84), according to Pro Football Focus. All (144) last season.

Cowboys defense overwhelms Rams

The Cowboys forced two fumbles, blocked a punt and recorded an interception in a 22-10 win over the Rams, who were held to just 38 rushing yards.

The Rams face three of the top defenses this season, losing to the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Up front, however, the lack of continuity was a major problem in LA. The Rams, in five games he started five different offensive line combinations, and overall he started nine different offensive his linemen.

The change up front began when Andrew Whitworth announced his retirement after leaving the Pro Bowl tackle after winning the Super Bowl in March. The Rams also lost starting right guard Austin Corbett to the Carolina Panthers in free agency.

The Rams drafted Logan Bruce in the third round to replace Corbett, but he damaged his right knee ACL and MCL during a preseason game and lost his rookie season.

Pro Bowl center Brian Allen is back with a new contract but suffered a knee injury in the team’s season opener that required procedures to fix. Following the game, we may be back after a bye week in Los Angeles.

Allen’s replacement, Coleman Shelton, moved from right guard to starting center, but suffered a sprained ankle in the Week 4 loss to the 49ers. Shelton will be placed on the disabled list and out for four to six weeks. Third-string center Jeremiah Colon replaced Shelton.

Right guard Shelton replacement Tremaine Ancrum Jr. ended the year with a fractured fibula in his first career start in Week 2 with the Atlanta Falcons. Alaric Jackson was in the starting line-up and he replaced Anchrum.

And finally, left guard David Edwards suffered his second concussion in two weeks during LA’s fourth quarter loss to the Cowboys last week and was replaced by Bobby Evans. Remaining in protocol, Sunday’s availability is in question.

Left tackle Joe Notboom signed a three-year, $40 million contract to replace Whitworth this offseason. According to Pro Football Focus, Noteboom started every game, but in Week 1 he missed a snap due to a sore MCL, giving up his team-high five sacks.

The only LA offensive lineman to play every snap this season is right tackle Rob Havenstein. The Rams co-captain said his offensive line has closed doors and the players only met Monday after film studies to quash some of the group’s issues.

“I think we’ve lost a little bit of the foundation that has made us successful over the years: communication, effort, technique,” Havenstein said. [Sunday] it can’t happen. That is inexcusable. … The only good thing is that I can get back to work early in the season and script it the way I want it. But it is a mindset that we must change. ”

A carousel along the offensive line led to McVay’s lack of productivity in his normally explosive offense. The Rams average just 16 points per game, making him 28th in the NFL with 300 total offensive yards (26th in the league).

LA’s 80 points in five games is the fifth-lowest by a reigning Super Bowl champion in their first five title defenses. After winning the Super Bowl, the first four teams failed to make it to the playoffs.

The Rams have just one touchdown in the last nine quarters and are averaging 62.4 yards per game on the ground.

The team’s philosophy of abandoning top picks for high-end skill players like Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller and Stafford could come back to bite the Rams. There are no young, developing players to replenish the overall depth of the roster throughout the draft.

The Rams ranked 30th in offensive line spending this year and 27th last season, according to Over the Cap.

Former NFL offensive line coach Paul Alexander has been in this situation before. He says there is no quick fix for the Rams.

“There’s a lot of injury and player movement in new groups, free agency and stuff, and the only answer is to get over it,” Alexander told FOX Sports. “That’s what people want to hear.” It’s not, but it’s a reality.

“They did a great job in my opinion of trying to help by doing all kinds of maximum protection.”No Excuses League”

As expected, McVay makes no excuses. The LA coach said he would keep all options open, including bringing in new players, and vowed to work out the problem during practice this week.

Earlier this season, the Rams acquired two experienced offensive linemen in Odai Aboushi and veteran center Matt Scula, but neither has seen the field so far.

“We’ve been at our best when we have identity but enough versatility to reduce stress on some of our core concepts,” says McVay. “And it takes all 11 guys. It was a challenge because we never had the same players up front. I am trying to proceed with

“These are all excuses for the faint of heart. I’m not going to make them. But we have to keep swinging.”

Havenstein echoed those sentiments.

“I think it’s a matter of mindset,” he said. “Physical mistakes will happen, but our mindset in the last few games was not right. We will deal with that in practice.”

Eric D. Williams has covered the NFL for over a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter. @eric_d_williams.

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