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Rams LT Andrew Whitworth: The NFL's best offseason addition?

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  • Rams LT Andrew Whitworth: The NFL's best offseason addition?

    Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer

    New THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Perhaps no NFL team improved at one position more than the Los Angeles Rams did at one of the game's most important ones.

    The Rams went from quite possibly the game's worst left tackle in Greg Robinson to quite possibly the game's best in Andrew Whitworth. The Houston Texans have seemingly made a significant upgrade at quarterback, going from Brock Osweiler to Deshaun Watson.

    The same can probably be said about the New York Jets at strong safety, from Calvin Pryor to Jamal Adams. Or the Jacksonville Jaguars at defensive end, from Tyson Alualu to Calais Campbell. But it's nearly impossible to match the Rams on Jared Goff's blind side.

    Consider: Whitworth, guaranteed $15 million at the age of 35, has allowed one quarterback pressure through this season's first four games, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season, Robinson -- the former No. 2 overall pick who was recently called "lazy" by an opponent -- allowed 40 pressures in 14 starts.

    You can make the case that Whitworth's presence -- more so than Goff's turnaround, Todd Gurley's surge, the overhaul at receiver, or even Sean McVay's scheme -- has been the main catalyst in the Rams' offensive breakthrough.

    "He's made a huge influence and impact on our team," McVay said. "Not only on our offense, but on our team."

    Whitworth's presence alone has helped the Rams' offensive line go from a major weakness to a major strength, one that has allowed only four sacks on Goff and has helped Gurley average a more respectable 4.2 yards per carry. But it isn't just Whitworth's play that has made an impact; it's his ability and desire to mentor others, most notably right tackle Rob Havenstein, who did a masterful job of blocking NFL sacks leader DeMarcus Lawrence on Sunday.

    Havenstein, 25, calls Whitworth "one of the best to ever do it."

    "I don't want to downplay that at all," Havenstein said, "but it's definitely great to have someone to ask all those little questions to. One of the biggest things is you feel welcomed to ask him, and he feels happy to help."

    Whitworth is a captain on the Rams, even though it's his first season with them. McVay credited Whitworth with helping him as a first-year head coach, as someone he trusts to take the pulse of the locker room. Whitworth has started 168 of a possible 180 games in his 12-year NFL career, making three trips to the Pro Bowl along the way. But he didn't impose himself on teammates, McVay said. Whitworth let his work and his play speak for him, and he waited for others to seek him out as a byproduct of it.

    "A lot of young people in today's society believe that leadership is the loudest person in the room, or the person who's always commanding people," Whitworth said. "To me, that's not leadership. That's just a loud voice; just someone who's assertive. There's a difference. Leadership, to me, is about the ability to have people want to hear what you have to say. People want to be around you, people want to believe in what you tell them, and they feel good when they walk away from you about who they are and what they're doing."

    Whitworth has studied the elite athletes from other sports, whether it's Michael Jordan in basketball, Nolan Ryan in baseball or Wayne Gretzky in hockey. He also studied the great leaders in this country's history, namely Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted to know what made them special; what it was that allowed them to empower others. He wanted to take a little bit from all of them.

    "You learn the most by listening," Whitworth said. "And so to me, always just listening, always just paying attention, and finding out what it is that people see in somebody like them. You find those things and you try to figure out how to fit them into who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to lead."

    Whitworth has helped Havenstein with his technique, but he has also taught the third-year pro how to break down film on a deeper level. Whitworth's mentorship began as early as the Rams' offseason program in the spring, but it wasn't just with Havenstein. It was with Andrew Donnal, Darrell Williams, Jamon Brown and, before he was traded to the Detroit Lions, even Robinson himself.

    Whitworth is trying to guide them the way he guided the likes of Anthony Collins and Andre Smith during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he's also producing on his own.

    Some nuggets to help put the difference between Whitworth and Robinson in perspective, courtesy of Pro Football Focus:

    Robinson has seen more penalties called on him this season (four) than Whitworth has allowed pressures (one) and penalties (one) combined.

    Robinson has allowed 19 quarterback pressures on 156 pass-blocking snaps, more than Whitworth and Havenstein (12) combined on 247 pass-blocking snaps.

    The entire Rams offensive line has allowed 36 total quarterback hits and quarterback hurries, and none of them have come from Whitworth. "I still haven't played good enough yet," Whitworth said. "I don't ever think a day is a perfect day. There's always something. In my mind most of the time, a play that probably wasn't a pressure, or didn't look bad, I probably was ticked off about it. My mentality is always to seek perfection, and you'll find that if you can get somewhere close to it, or in the vicinity of that, that's good."
    Last edited by MauiRam; -10-05-2017, 10:52 AM.

  • #2
    You can make the case that Whitworth's presence -- more so than Goff's turnaround, Todd Gurley's surge, the overhaul at receiver, or even Sean McVay's scheme -- has been the main catalyst in the Rams' offensive breakthrough.

    Great read on Whitworth. Glad he's a Ram at this stage in his career. Thanks Maui.


    • #3
      Watching Whitworth play is pretty amazing. And he's on our team! lol

      A human wall for sure, makes it look easy.


      • #4
        Love the influence he is having on Havenstein.

        Love his actions first attitude. I am very thankful he is a Ram.
        “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”


        • #5
          It's probably a little early in the year to be crowning a player the best, but so far there is little doubt that no player is having more of an impact to his new team than Andrew Whitworth's signing has for the Rams. It's just a shame he isn't a good few years younger because he is going to be very hard to replace when he finally decides to retire. With a bit of luck, Whitworth stays healthy and plays for a few more years, because he may be getting up there in age but you wouldn't think so by the way he is playing. For such a huge, mountain of a man, he is still surprisingly light on his feet and I've also noticed how much energy he brings to the team. It's not only is Whitworth a very talented player, but the amount of experience and leadership he brings to the table is completely off the charts. He is most probably the best and the most influential free agent signing since I've been a fan of this team. The Rams we're lucky to get a player of this caliber so hats off to the Rams FO on this one.!!!


          • #6
            Just watched Rams360, and they did a segment on Whitworth, who is a huge presence, on the field and on the sideline. He is constantly talking to teammates, both offensive and defensive, keeping the intensity up, giving advice, offering guidance, and of course, doing a lot of talking with his play. He is definitely a team leader, someone everyone respects, and IMO, absolutely one of the, if not the best off-season addition in the NFL. He has been a transformational figure in the Rams success.


            • #7
              He seems like the sort of guy who would be of benefit to the Rams after his playing days are over.
              “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”


              Related Topics


              • MauiRam
                Rams need Andrew Whitworth to anchor new-look offensive line
                by MauiRam
                March 10, 2017

                Updated 7:46 p.m. Rams coach Sean McVay answers questions during a news conference at the Rams' NFL training facility in Thousand Oaks on Friday, March 10, 2017, about the addition of free agents wide receiver Robert Woods and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

                THOUSAND OAKS – The Rams’ offensive line seemed to be in constant flux last season, and not in a positive way. Coach Sean McVay hopes that further changes in March will create stability in the fall.

                The Rams likely will have three new starters along the offensive line, if not four, when next season begins. The leader of that group, not only emotionally but in terms of skill, figures to be left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who officially joined the Rams as a free agent Friday when he signed his contract.

                “I think he will be a great example for some of the young, up-and-coming linemen,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Whitworth on Friday at the team’s practice facility, “with what he can bring in the meeting room and on the grass. He’s a pro’s pro.”

                Whitworth, 35, is a 10-year NFL veteran and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. The Rams gave him a hefty three-year, $36 million contract and expect him to anchor an offensive line that regressed in 2016, allowed far too much quarterback pressure and opened few holes for running back Todd Gurley.

                Greg Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick who struggled mightily last season, now will get a chance to play right tackle, McVay said. Former right tackle Rob Havenstein could move to right guard, and the Rams must find a replacement for center Tim Barnes, whom they released Thursday.

                Left guard Rodger Saffold could be the only returning lineman in the same position. That’s a lot of change, and McVay will lean on Whitworth, who earned the reputation, during his 11 seasons in Cincinnati, as being a respected team leader.

                “I love challenges,” Whitworth said Friday. “I love adventures. I love to try new things. I wanted to find a place where I could make an impact.”

                Who will play center? McVay said the Rams would begin to “cross train” some of their guards at center, but also strongly hinted that the team would make an addition through free agency or the draft.

                As for Robinson, a career-defining move is in store. Robinson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and needs to show that he can fit somewhere and thrive. The Rams also will consider playing Robinson at right guard but, because of his body type would like to see him move from left tackle to right.

                “It’s certainly a challenge,” McVay said. “It’s about the comfort level in the stance. We talked to Greg yesterday and told him about our plans. He’s up for the challenge. When you’re doing drills, it’s just about getting comfortable with that right-handed stance and that muscle memory.”

                -03-10-2017, 11:57 PM
              • r8rh8rmike
                Rams' Sean McVay not giving up on ex-No. 2 pick Greg Robinson
                by r8rh8rmike
                Rams' Sean McVay not giving up on ex-No. 2 pick Greg Robinson

                5:09 PM PT
                Alden Gonzalez ESPN Staff Writer

                THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Greg Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick who has struggled at left tackle throughout his three-year career, remains "a big part" of the Los Angeles Rams' plans moving forward, new coach Sean McVay said Friday.

                McVay did not specify whether Robinson would remain at left tackle, but he did praise his talent.

                "When you see some of the things he's able to do, you see the athleticism in space when he's pulling around and using some of those perimeter schemes that they did offensively last year," McVay said during a news conference from the team facility, which followed a meet-and-greet with his new assistant coaches. "He's a guy that we're excited to get around. That's why it's frustrating that we have to wait so long to get these guys in the building, see them on the grass."

                Robinson has committed an NFL-leading 31 total penalties over the past two years. In 2016, Pro Football Focus graded him 71st among 78 qualified tackles. He was benched on two separate occasions this past season, when the entire offensive line struggled to protect rookie quarterback Jared Goff and create space for running back Todd Gurley.

                There was some thought the Rams might simply part ways with Robinson, who will cost about $6.8 million toward the salary cap in 2017, but it appears the new staff is not ready to do that.

                New offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who spent the past two years with the Buffalo Bills, said Robinson has shown "flashes of skills" to remain an NFL left tackle.

                "Now, why it's not consistent, I can't answer that; I don't know," Kromer said. "When I can work with a player and get my hands on him and be outside and ask him to do something and ask him to do it again and ask him to adjust something, then I know what we can do with him, how we can fit him in the offense. But until then, on tape -- I don't know what he was told. I kind of know what he was supposed to do, but I don't know what his mindset was. I don't know it with any of them. So, I'm just looking for individual skills, like a scout."

                At 6-foot-5, 332 pounds, Robinson is surprisingly athletic and has the skills to play left tackle, something that was obvious when he came out of Auburn in 2014 but just hasn't clicked yet in the NFL.

                The Rams' previous offensive line coach, Paul Boudreau, spoke during the season about Robinson's inconsistent mechanics.
                "He's all over the place with his feet, he's all over the place with his hands," Boudreau said. "And when he gets in trouble, when he stops his feet, he grabs, and he gets those holding penalties that you really don't need. So, he's got to concentrate on focusing on the little things."

                The Rams could...
                -02-11-2017, 09:47 AM
              • MauiRam
                Andrew Whitworth a big, big addition to Rams' revamped offensive line.
                by MauiRam
                By Lindsey Thiry

                One by one, each child climbed aboard, and Andrew Whitworthkept walking.

                Coaches and staff members turned to watch as Whitworth, a 6-foot-7, 333-pound behemoth of a man, carried his four young kids across the field at UC Irvine after a two-hour practice.

                The Rams’ new left tackle never broke stride.

                Whitworth is an imposing figure with a massive athletic frame and a large bald head. It’s easy to see how his kids play on him like a jungle gym … and why friends make a habit of walking behind him to watch curious onlookers stare.
                The Rams made Whitworth, 35, a top priority in free agency and signed the three-time Pro Bowl selection to a three-year, $36-million contract, with $15-million guaranteed.

                “He’s been exactly what we thought and more,” coach Sean McVay said after a week of training camp, adding, “He’s playing at an extremely high level.”

                Whitworth, a 12-year pro, has the experience to protect quarterback Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 draft.

                Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said Whitworth was “like a coach on the field” and provided a steady presence.
                “At the right time he will say something in the huddle to keep us going or to calm us down,” Kromer said. “He’s really good for all the youth on the offense.”

                Offensive lineman Jamon Brown, a third-year pro, agreed.

                “Since he’s gotten here and stepped in he’s been a huge help to kind of the development for all the young guys like myself,” Brown said.

                Last season, the Rams’ offensive line struggled as the team stumbled to a 4-12 finish. Goff played under duress throughout most of his seven starts, and running back Todd Gurley was often hit in the backfield.

                A new venture, Whitworth said, was what attracted him to the Rams after protecting quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton and making six playoff appearances in 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

                “The opportunity to really do something that I thought was a challenge and to do something that I thought I could look back on my career and say, ‘You know what, I’m glad I accepted that challenge and I didn’t just take the easy route,’” Whitworth said, “To me it was that opportunity that really was intriguing.”

                Whitworth joined a group that included Brown, third-year pro Rob Havenstein and seven-year veteran Rodger Saffold, and other young players. The Rams also signed veteran center John Sullivan, who played for McVay with the Washington Redskins last season.

                Kromer, the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line coach the last two seasons, said the addition of Whitworth and Sullivan would help the line improve.

                “Our biggest thing is how can we get five guys to play as a group,” Kromer said.

                Last Saturday, in a no-tackling practice with the Chargers at StubHub Center, Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram got to...
                -08-09-2017, 11:01 AM
              • Nick
                Free Agency Notebook: Robinson Moving to Right Side of OL
                by Nick
                Free Agency Notebook: Robinson Moving to Right Side of OL
                Posted 1 hour ago
                Myles Simmons
                Rams Insider

                When the Rams signed free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth, they stabilized arguably the most important position along the offensive line. With Whitworth in tow, L.A. will now move around some of the unit’s current pieces in order to find the most effective five-man combination.

                To that end, head coach Sean McVay said Greg Robinson — who has spent the better part of the last three seasons as the Rams’ left tackle — will be shifting over to the right to compete at tackle with 2015 second-round pick Rob Havenstein.

                “I think that’ll be a good opportunity for Greg to go to that right side, and, we’ll see how Havenstein is able to do — if we allow him to play guard and tackle,” McVay said Friday. “We’ve got some guys on this roster that have some position [flexibility], but being able to get an Andrew Whitworth — he knows what it’s like, he’s played the game at a Pro Bowl-caliber level at that left tackle position — will give us the flexibility to put Greg on the right side and see how he does there.”

                During the lead up to Week 17’s matchup against the Cardinals, Robinson said he had not been approached about a potential position change, and wouldn’t think much about it until he was. McVay said he spoke with Robinson on Thursday to let him know of the organization’s plans and the offensive lineman was receptive to it.

                “Absolutely, Greg was great,” McVay said. “When you’re fortunate enough to bring Andrew Whitworth in the building, I think it’s important to let your players know where they stand and how that affects them and those guys upfront. It was important for us to communicate what the plan is.”

                McVay acknowledged adjusting to playing on the right will likely be a challenge for Robinson, who has only played on the left for his 42 NFL starts. But it’s a change McVay and the staff are confident Robinson can make.

                “I think it’s more just getting a comfort level of working in his stance,” McVay said. “When you’re doing some of your drills, just get comfortable playing right-footed, with that right-handed stance as opposed to that left. And I think that’s something that he’ll immediately be able to work on, just get comfortable with that muscle memory. I think that’s something, with his athleticism, we feel confident that he’ll be able to make that transition.

                “Every day is an evaluation, so we’re looking at that,” McVay later added, “but you have to have a starting point and the starting point is we’re going to give Greg a chance to play at that right tackle spot and see where we go from there.”

                HOW WILL L.A. ADDRESS CENTER?
                Another spot in flux on the Rams’ offensive line is the center position, as Los Angeles released Tim Barnes last week. Barnes started all 16 games in the 2015...
                -03-13-2017, 03:09 PM
              • MauiRam
                Interesting excerpt from Peter King MMQB
                by MauiRam
                STAT OF THE WEEK: Value of coaching dept:

                Look how much better second-year quarterback Jared Goff is, compared to rookie quarterback Jared Goff:

                Rams W-L /Comp. Pct./ Avg. Yards/ TD-INT/ Passer Rating
                0-7/ .546/ 155.6/ 5-7/ 63.6
                2-1/ .704/ 272.3/ 5-1/ 118.2

                Obviously, this can’t all be about coaching. But coach Sean McVay and his hands-on Goff guys—quarterback coach Greg Olson and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur—have gone back and educated Goff about the littlest things.

                Formations and pass-route combinations have been a big part of the education. Take Goff’s one-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins on Thursday night—made possible by an interesting formation with Watkins paired with another receiver to the left of the formation that was as close to a pick play, but entirely legal, as an offense can run. It’s just smart stuff that makes life easier for the quarterback.

                Having a significantly better offensive line helps. And the importing of Andrew Whitworth as a free-agent left tackle has meant the world. It’s like the importing of Chris Sale to the Red Sox pitching staff—it changes everything. Compare the protection from the left tackle for the Rams last year to the protection from the left tackle this year, stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus:

                • 2016: Left tackle Greg Robinson allowed 40 sacks/significant pressures/hits of the quarterbacks in 511 pass drops. That’s one pressure per 12.8 pass attempts.

                • 2017: Left tackle Andrew Whitworth has allowed one sack/significant pressure/hit of the quarterback in 84 pass drops. That’s one pressure per 84 pass attempts.

                When I spoke with Whitworth on Saturday, he credited the teaching of McVay.

                “The reality is, how many true teachers are there out there, rather than yellers and screamers,” Whitworth said. “The most impressive thing about Coach McVay is he’s a teacher. The greatest coaches are the ones who can not just stand in a classroom and instruct on the board what to do—but they can stand right beside me, looking through my eyes, and tell me how to do something. Teach me something. That can last forever. That’s what I see with coach McVay and Jared.

                “Now, when I see Jared, I see a really confident guy. He’s told me, ‘I feel good about any single play we call. I just feel like I need to make the decisions. I don’t think, Is this what we should have called? Is this the right situation for this call?’ I think it’s important that after a play, Sean is not there to criticize him when he makes the wrong decision. He knows the only way for him to learn this is to go through it. It’s been good to watch.”

                My my, it has been a long time coming, dare we continue to hope? I'm on board already!...
                -09-25-2017, 10:41 AM