Even the most diehard Patriots fans who scour the internet for every mock draft they can find were a little shocked when the team took guard Cole Strange with their first-round pick in April’s draft. Seems like they weren’t the only ones as the selection came under even more scrutiny when video emerged with the reactions of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead to the pick. It’s one thing for average fans to be shocked, but to have the reigning Super Bowl champs laughing at the pick? Yikes. However, through the first five weeks of the season, the Rams definitely shouldn’t be laughing at the pick anymore.
Coming into the season with aspirations of becoming the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-2004 Patriots, the Rams have struggled out of the gate with a 2-3 start. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5) and the running game has struggled to get going. With only the Monday night game left on the week five slate, the Rams rank 29th in points scored, 26th in total yards and are dead last in rushing yards as they are averaging a paltry 62.4 yards per game.
The offensive line play in Los Angeles has been dreadful and Stafford is getting beat up. In Sunday’s defeat to the Cowboys, Stafford was sacked five times and took a few hard hits at the end of the game that left him shaken up. Stafford has now been sacked 21 times (most in the NFL) after only being sacked 30 times in 17 games last year.
The Patriots offensive line, meanwhile, came into week five as the fourth-best unit graded by PFF and continued to excel in Sunday’s victory over the Lions. They paved the way for a season-high 176 rushing yards and kept rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe upright, not surrendering a single sack. A big part of the success in the running game has been the work of Strange, whose kickout block helped spring running back Rhamondre Stevenson for a career-long 49-yard run.
In all, Stevenson ran for a career-best 161 yards on Sunday and went out of his way to praise his offensive linemen after the game.
"“I feel like those guys up front, they really led the way, for me and Bailey Zappe today. Just because of how hard they were moving people, how hard they were working, things like that. So just those guys up front, I have all the respect for them. Much love.”"
While they have struggled in the passing game at times and are on their third starting quarterback, the Patriots have been able to remain competitive due to the play of the offensive line. Even McVay will admit that all of the success starts up front.
"“We gotta be able to run the football efficiently, and when we do not run the football efficiently, we’re having trouble protecting and being able to hold up, and then you can’t give yourself a chance to let things develop.”"
Sounds like they could’ve used someone like Cole Strange.