Rams seem to strongly prefer continuity over change at center

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Cameron DaSilva
·2 min read
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Since Sean McVay took over as head coach in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams have had three different starters at center in four years. There’s been very little stability at the position, which is one of the most important spots on offense.

John Sullivan helped stabilize the line in 2017 but he struggled a bit the following year, causing the Rams to move on. Brian Allen then stepped in as the starter in 2019, but he started just nine games before suffering a significant knee injury.

That’s when Austin Blythe took over, and he’s held the starting role for the last season and a half. Blythe’s tenure in L.A. could come to an end soon, though, as he’s scheduled to be a free agent this week. McVay emphasized how valuable Blythe is to the Rams when he spoke to the media this offseason, and Les Snead similarly pointed to the importance of continuity at center.

Given the Rams’ system, Snead says it’s difficult to project how a rookie or free-agent signee will adapt in McVay’s offense.

Brian Allen could step in for Blythe if he leaves in free agency, but Snead didn’t make that point with much conviction.

“Yeah, I think that if we’re not able to re-sign Austin, he moves on, I do think that’s one position, where the good thing with Brian Allen – similar to Joe (Noteboom), he’s actually started for us and played. The key that we don’t necessarily know with Brian is, how will he play, how will he play post-injury?” Snead said last week. “That was pretty serious injury that has gone through, and he’s done a heck of a job rehabbing it. That’s always going to be something he’s got to do. But I do think in the center, because it’s such a nuanced position of almost being the second QB on the field, it’s hard just to project a rookie can do it. It’s even hard just to project a player that may be with another NFL team can do it just because they will still have to learn our system and still at that point have to quickly process football within our system. So, a little bit harder to project them than other positions.”

All indications point to the Rams attempting to re-sign Blythe. McVay values him, he knows the offense and he can play any spot on the interior of the line. And as Snead said, the Rams know what they have in Blythe because he’s been a starter for two-plus seasons. With another free agent, the Rams don’t necessarily know how he’ll do in McVay’s system.

Don’t be surprised if the Rams find a way to re-sign Blythe for the second straight offseason.