Rams’ $34.5 Million Leader Reacts to Improved Play by Struggling Unit

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford unleashes his throw on September 18, 2022.

There was this sight on seven occasions when the Los Angeles Rams returned to the field to start the 2022 season: Matthew Stafford getting tussled to the ground on sacks.

Five Buffalo Bills defenders, seven sacks piled at the SoFi Stadium grass, and a 31-10 defeat to start the year.

But this time on Sunday, September 18, the Rams sliced the number of sacks to just one — allowing Stafford to pick apart the Atlanta Falcons with 272 yards and three touchdowns, culminating in the 31-27 win to improve to 1-1.

How did one Rams captain react to the improved play of this struggling unit that not only dealt with blown blocking assignments, but has been stung by injuries early in the season?

$34.5 Million Leader Reacts to Improved Performance

Appearing as one of four veteran Rams players at the “L.A. Rams Night of Wishes” event on Monday, September 18 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California, newly extended right tackle Rob Havenstein was asked if he had a grade to give the Rams’ offensive line for bottling the number of sacks.

“The best thing about that is I’m not a coach, so I don’t have to give that grade,” Havenstein said smiling. “But I thought it was a better performance than what we did against Buffalo. Technique was better, there are things to still clean up and things like that. As an offensive line, we’re always going to chase that perfect game. We’re never going to get there, but that’s something we’re always going to try.”

“Big Hav” became a $34.5 million man after the Rams extended his deal for another three seasons. Per Spotrac, the 6-foot-6 Havenstein will make a base salary of $1.5 million for this season before witnessing that financial number go up to $6.5 million in 2024. He doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until the 2026 season when he’s 36 — giving him more seasons to thwart off incoming rushes for the Rams and leading this offensive line unit moving forward.

Breakdown of Rams’ Trench Play

Not only did the Rams do their damage by air as how they’ve been known to attack defenses, but also showed they can do some damage by land.

On the Darrell Henderson touchdown, the running back goes unscathed by Falcon defenders on his way to the end zone.

On all red zone touchdowns, Stafford only needed three seconds to throw — including the fade to Allen Robinson where the Falcons rushed six defenders and dropped five into coverage. But every rusher gets picked up by a Ram.

Meanwhile, this sideline throw came with Stafford being granted three seconds to find Cooper Kupp. Though Stafford was knocked down, the Rams’ front line gave him enough time to deliver the strike.

Even Pro Football Focus gave love to the Rams’ line. Four of the Rams’ five starters were given grades between 73.3 to 76.4. Even Alaric “A.J.” Jackson, who had to step in for the injured Tremayne Anchrum, showed strong reserve duty by not allowing a single pressure on 36 pass blocking attempts.

It was a far different and more near-perfect performance out of the Rams offensive line. Not only did the Bills get their sacks, but delivered an astonishing 16 quarterback hits of Stafford. And all of the Bills’ rushes came without blitzing.

Buffalo’s bull rushes and spin moves gave the Rams line fits.

But against Atlanta, the QB hits dropped to two. Havenstein, though, didn’t see any relief or complacency after that performance.

“The fun part about the offensive line: It’s five guys working as one. How do you get better as a group and individually?” Havenstein said. “It was a better performance, but we’re still not satisfied.”

Rams & Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties

Havenstein’s interview was through his appearance at the charity event through the Rams’ partnership with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties which serves Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Havenstein joined fellow veterans Tyler Higbee, Matt Gay and Van Jefferson along with members of the 2021 and 2022 rookie class to support the event that raises funds in assisting kids with a life-threatening ailment. The 30-year-old loved the opportunity to make his first appearance at the fifth annual event.

“It’s very important to give back. It makes you realize what kind of platform football has for you and what we do on the field is no where close to what we can accomplish off the field. And some of the great organizations the Rams team up with, it really humbles yourself with what’s truly important in this life and everything like that. We play a game for a living — a kid’s game. We play it very hard, but there’s so much more greater causes out there and it’s an awesome night,” Havenstein said.

Information about Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties including ways to help can be found here.

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