Andrew Whitworth has played on offensive lines that had ended their game with a pileup of tackles for a loss or witnessed the sacks stack up.
The 39-year-old Los Angeles Rams captain has been a part of the highs-and-lows of offensive line play — and the Rams offensive line hit a low during the 28-16 home loss on Sunday, November 7 to the Tennessee Titans.
Whitworth and the front five versus the Titans’ trench unit: Four tackles for a loss, five sacks allowed — the latter number now representing a season-high. A performance like that not only can lead to venting inside the locker room, but the fingers pointing in different directions.
“Whit,” however, made sure there would be none of that with this message he shared loud and clear after the game:
“Kids pout, men respond,” Whitworth told the L.A. media in what his message was. “And we have the opportunity to respond.”
What Went Wrong for the OL Group?
Sunday’s 12-point loss to the now 7-2 Titans saw a litany of errors that is not common in a L.A. Rams game.
Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions while inside Rams territory. The longest reception belonged to tight end Tyler Higbee…which stretched underneath 30 yards (26 on a TE tunnel screen), the longest run coming from Darrell Henderson’s 14-yarder and finally, the Rams getting smothered in the trenches.
Here’s one example of the kind of evening the Rams’ offensive line had: Jeffrey Simmons broke out with three sacks including this play where he wins off of an explosive get-off and a violent bull rush:
On the first play highlighted by the Titans’ Twitter account, Denico Autry slipped past Austin Corbett with a rip move when one-on-one with the right side guard and forced the sack. Simmons, who drew Whitworth, finished with the tussle of Stafford. Then, the Titans hit Stafford and the Rams’ line with a Simmons stunt, which led to Stafford’s first pick of the game.
Per Pro Football Focus, right tackle Rob Havenstein and center Brian Allen surrendered two sacks each up their side, while Edwards allowed one.
What went wrong? Was it communication lapses or bad technique? Whitworth explained the Titans’ defensive coverages had a lot to do with the sacks.
“I think it was one of those days where a couple of plays really kind of defined the game. I mean, you look at it early in the game, thought they just did a good job covering down the field and kind of made, what I call, coverage type plays,” Whitworth said. “Some of those were, what I would call, the ball is sitting back there and nobody’s open down the field. I thought they had a late rush there — a late looper (Simmons) that kind of came late on a play. Another one that we’ll have to look at and see if there’s something we can do differently.
“I think that’s the tough thing about these games and these teams are going to play coverage,” Whitworth continued. “It’s a battle, I mean sometimes the ball gets out, sometimes it doesn’t. I thought we ran the ball really well, but some of the sacks we had were late coverage situations.”
Responding to the Loss
Whitworth doesn’t want the Rams to dwell on what could’ve been versus the Titans.
“I think you have games like that and that’s the reality. You come back and you approach it the same way and you hope it works out better the next time,” Whitworth said. “Really, the thing they (Tennessee) needed in this game was for us to make mistakes…and that’s exactly what we did.”
But “Whit” sent the message that grown men choose response over pouting. And he and the Rams have the opportunity to respond back next week against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Anytime you get that in this league where there’s another Sunday and another opportunity, you should feel happy about it and blessed because that’s all you ever want is a chance to respond to a bad day,” Whitworth said.