One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 NFL season is the dramatic rise of the Los Angeles Rams’ offense, and left tackle Andrew Whitworth deserves as much credit as anyone for their success.
In their first season back in L.A. under Jeff Fisher, the Rams finished dead last with an average of 14 points per game. After a stellar rookie season, Todd Gurley consistently ran into walls at the line of scrimmage in ’16 while a rookie Jared Goff struggled to produce with limited weapons and virtually no protection from the offensive line.
This year, however, the Rams have completely flipped the switch, putting up a league-leading 32.9 points per game through Week 10. Head coach Sean McVay deserves a ton of credit for their incredible improvement, but reinforcements in the form of Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, rookie Cooper Kupp, center John Sullivan, and Whitworth have been critical. Whitworth, especially, has answered the bell at one of the most important positions in the game.
The Rams have dealt with abysmal play at the left tackle position for years, with Greg Robinson never living up to his selection at second overall in 2014. Last year, it seemed like Goff always had a pass rusher approaching from the blind side right after the snap. With Whitworth, the Cal product is on pace to eclipse the 4,000-yard plateau.
The numbers back up Whitworth’s dominance. On Sunday, the former Bengal recorded his 50th career game with 20 or more pass blocks and 0 pressures allowed. That is 15 more than any other left tackle since 2006, per Pro Football Focus’s Nathan Jahnke.
Other younger left tackles like Dallas’ Tyron Smith are arguably more talented (just look at what happened to the Cowboys without him), but his sustained success over the last decade is incredible to behold, and his addition to the Rams has changed the fortunes of the franchise.