Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher has "not given any consideration" to changing the configuration of his offensive line, regardless of the ineffectiveness that has plagued it.
Its most integral member, left tackle Greg Robinson, leads the NFL with 10 total penalties, a figure that includes those who have been declined. Five of the six offensive linemen who have received significant playing time rank within the bottom 48 percent at their respective positions, according to grading systems used by Pro Football Focus. And behind that group, star running back Todd Gurley is tied for the fewest average yards before first contact.
“We need to be more productive in the run game," Fisher told reporters when asked to assess his offensive line after Wednesday's practice from Thousand Oaks, California. "We need to minimize the penalties."
Fisher has publicly disagreed with several of the penalties called against his team this season, but the Rams nonetheless rank third in total penalties this year (68) and first in total penalties since Fisher's first year in 2012 (650).
The most troubling ones come from Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick who is in his third year of attempting to prove he was worth his slot. Robinson has graded out as the fourth-worst tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. He ranks 70th among the 73 tackles with enough snaps in pass blocking and 72nd among 75 in run blocking. Just as bad, he leads the NFL in penalties one year after ranking second with 16 of them.
The 24-year-old told the Orange County Register on Wednesday that he believes those calls stem mostly from "a bad reputation" that was built up over his first two seasons, saying opposing defensive linemen are now throwing their hands up as they rush to draw calls.
"Greg is going to be a really good player," said Fisher, who has stated that he is not considering moving Robinson to a guard position. "He’s highly athletic. I thought, for the most part, he played an outstanding rusher in [Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on Sunday], and he held his own in this game. There’s no harder position to play, besides the quarterback position, than the left tackle position, especially when you’re going to throw the ball.”
The Rams have been somewhat adequate in pass blocking, with Case Keenum absorbing contact 31 times, fewer than 12 other quarterbacks (though a big part of that is Keenum averaging 2.29 seconds before throwing a pass, tied for third-fastest in the NFL). But run blocking has been dreadful, which is disappointing for a Rams team that drafted seven offensive linemen from 2014-15 and has yet to see the group come together.
Rob Havenstein, the second-year right tackle who didn't allow a sack in 13 starts last year, has been their best, ranking 28th among 75 qualified tackles by Pro Football Focus. But second-year right guard Cody Wichmann, who has started six of seven games, is 57th among 79 guards. Another second-year player, Jamon Brown, who has started once at right guard and has filled in periodically, is 45th. Left guard Rodger Saffold, a seventh-year starter, ranks 41st. Tim Barnes, a fifth-year pro who is in his second year as the starter, is 29th among 35 centers.
Behind them -- though, to be fair, not entirely because of them -- Gurley ranks 38th among 40 qualified running backs in rushing yards per attempt (3.01) and is tied with the Buccaneers' Charles Sims for the fewest average yards before first contact (1.34). Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson recently blasted the Rams' offensive line, saying: "Sooner or later, somebody’s going to knock into that backfield and hurt [Gurley]."
But no changes are expected.