Andrew Whitworth and the Los Angeles Rams offensive line will pancake the Seattle Seahawks defense in Week 5.
Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Sean McVay. There are many reasons why the Los Angeles Rams own the most-explosive offense in the NFL.
The main one isn’t star weapons like Gurley and Goff executing the bold plays conjured by head coach McVay. Instead, the Rams are unstoppable because of a dominant offensive line that encourages comparisons with the famed ‘Hogs’ of the Washington Redskins in the 80s and early 90s.
This formidable line will pancake the remodelled defensive front of NFC West rivals the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5.
L.A.’s strength up front is most obvious on the left side thanks to tackle Andrew Whitworth. The evergreen 36-year-old is the anchor of the unit as Goff’s blindside protector and a primary blocker in the run game:
Whitworth is helped by having Rodger Saffold next to him. The latter is a lesson in why teams shouldn’t rush to give up on high draft picks who struggle initially.
Saffold was drafted in the second round in 2010 and expected to lock down the left tackle spot. Injuries and inconsistency ensured he couldn’t, but the Rams refused to give up on Saffold.
He was moved inside where he has become a downright nasty force. Saffold is the reason Todd Gurley runs so many plays behind the left side:
Injuries remain an issue for Saffold, who missed practice with a knee problem, per Cameron DaSilva of USA Today Sports Rams Wire.
The Rams need Saffold to flatten linebackers at the second level and spring Gurley on the zone-stretch runs McVay loves to call. Seahawks ‘backers Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks are aggressive downhill and speedy sideline-to-sideline, but they may struggle to stay off blockers this week.
Seattle no longer boasts a defensive front strong enough to stand up to the Rams’ O-line.
There’s no Michael Bennett dominating the interior. Nor is there a Cliff Avril wrecking protection off the edge.
Pete Carroll now relies on one-tone run pluggers in the middle and versatile ‘tweeners on the outside. Frank Clark fits the latter description and is the Seahawks’ best D-lineman.
He has three sacks entering Week 5 but will need something different to surprise Whitworth. An inside move could yield success if Staffold isn’t around to have Whitworth’s back.
Clark and Dion Jordan are being asked to replace the heat Bennett and Avril used to bring. It won’t happen too often against the Rams’ bookends, Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein.
No edge pressure will make things too comfortable for Goff because the Seahawks aren’t equipped to collapse the pocket from the inside.
Jarran Reed and Shamar Stephen are both underrated run stuffers. But neither are the type of D-tackles who force quarterbacks off the spot.
Allen and Stephen’s main task will be to keep Wagner and Kendricks clean. It demands they bully center John Sullivan.
Signing Sullivan from Washington last season went under the radar but proved to be one most astute moves the Rams made after hiring McVay.
Sullivan and right guard big Jamon Brown will be glad they don’t have to worry about Bennett. Their ability to own the middle means the Rams can stay in one-back sets and get more potential pass-catchers on the field.
Surrounding Gurley with playmakers at different levels of the formation keeps defenses guessing about what’s coming. The Seahawks won’t be able to focus on one aspect of the Rams offense and take it away.
Seattle’s front isn’t strong enough to stifle Gurley on the ground or make Goff jittery in the pocket.
Instead, football’s best offensive line will dominate physically and put Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in a shootout they can’t win.