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    Experienced Kromer to Lead Young Offensive Line

    Myles Simmons

    Of the many famous football clichés, “Everything starts up front” tends to ring true year after year. And new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is tasked with ensuring the Rams have the best group in the trenches week in and week out.

    Entering his 17th year as an NFL coach, Kromer has a bevy of experience leading successful offensive lines. He was the OL coach in New Orleans when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV, also serving as the club’s running game coordinator. Then Kromer spent 2013 and 2014 as the Bears’ offensive coordinator, helping guide a unit that set franchise passing records. And at his most recent stop, the Bills led the league in yards rushing in 2015 and 2016 with Kromer as offensive line coach.

    It’s Kromer’s goal to bring that kind of dynamic attack to Los Angeles.

    “It’s a great opportunity,” Kromer said last Friday. “I’ve been lucky — my first 11 years as a coach, I made the playoffs a lot of times. And then hit a couple places where we haven’t won as much, but we were No. 1 in rushing at Buffalo. We broke Chicago Bears records in Chicago on offense, so I feel like we’ve still had a lot of success.

    “I hope we can carry that into this place, into the Los Angeles Rams, and use that knowledge of what brought victories, what brought success to help this team,” Kromer added.

    Teaching the Rams’ new offensive system to the group up front will be a process, but one made easier given Kromer and head coach Sean McVay’s coaching lineage. It’s been well documented how McVay learned under Jon and Jay Gruden. The elder Gruden brother was also the one to give Kromer his start in the NFL, hiring him as an offensive line assistant with the Raiders in 2001.

    “Our backgrounds are similar … in that Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan trained me to be an NFL coach right out of college coaching. And Sean McVay, right out of college, was trained by Jon Gruden,” Kromer said. “And so we have the same philosophy — although there’s tweaks here and there that we’re going to work together to find the best answer. And so that’s how we felt good and strong about working together.”

    It’s still early in the evaluation process, but the youth and size among the Rams’ offensive line stick out to Kromer.

    “Being young, they move well because they have young knees, and young hips, and young ankles. So they move well as a group,” Kromer said. “They’re 310-plus across the board, 320. And you’re always looking for the bigger, the faster, the better.”

    It’s no secret Los Angeles finished No. 32 in total offense last year, with issues across the board. And while some of the problems can be attributed to the offensive line, Kromer sees them as collective.

    “The group needs to get better,” Kromer said. “So how are you going to do that? You’re going to try to do your best of coaching the guys you have, maybe finding some guys to help, and just continuing forward. I think it’s a process, but I think with Sean McVay’s leadership, his ability to communicate the way he does, his competitive greatness — I feel like [that’s] going to rub off on this team.”

    When it comes to offensive line personnel, one name that has consistently come up is 2014 first-round pick Greg Robinson, who was deactivated for two games in 2016. Much of the discussion has centered around whether or not there may be a position change in his future from tackle to guard.

    McVay said last Friday that is still up for discussion.

    “Obviously, when you look at some of the things he’s able to do, you see the athleticism,” McVay said. “In space, when he’s pulling around and using some of those parameter schemes that they did offensively last year. He’s a guy that we’re excited to get around.”

    As a group, though, Kromer said chemistry and communication between the five men on the offensive line is crucial for offensive improvement.

    “The challenge is that you take this young group and you develop them and mold them into what you’re looking for,” Kromer said. “And we hope that we have character in this group. We hope that we can communicate in this group. And we really hope that they have competitive greatness — that they want to block their man more than that guy wants to make the tackle.”

    And with a young offensive line and young quarterback, it’s important both position groups make progress together.

    “The quarterback is going to run the ship. He’s in charge,” Kromer said. “The center then at that point is the next in charge. So we have to make sure that they understand the system together, That they can work together and communicate what we’re trying to get done.

    “So that’s our job as coaches,” Kromer continued, “to get that to them in a way that they can relate it to each other and have success from there. So like I said, it’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we look forward to.”


    The Staff: Aaron Kromer

    Get to know new Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as he sits down for an exclusive one on one interview with Rams reporter Dani Klupenger.


    This stuff has been posted before but it bears repeating.

    Kromer was the OL coach under Gruden in Oakland, then under Callahan (Callahan was McVay’s first choice as OC but it was blocked). Kromer then went to be the OL coach in Tampa under Gruden.


    Here’s PFF rankings on the OLs he has coached since 2009. (PFF though does not have rankings for 2008, the year before Kromer was in N.O.)

    2008 Before Kromer, just not good (no ranking)
    2009 4th
    2010 14th
    2011 1st
    2012 4th

    2013-2014 he’s a coordinator for Chicago
    2012, before Kromer, OL ranked 30th

    2013, with Kromer, ranked 19th
    2014, 15th
    Though with the Bears, again, he’s the coordinator, and not the direct position coach.

    2014, before Kromer, 30th
    2015, with Kromer, 8th
    2016 11th


    between kromer working with roman and that vaunted running game and lafleur who has worked around that shanahan zbs i hope they can craft a running game here. i’m excited.

    and then you got mcvay, lafleur, and olson drilling goff on the intricacies of being an nfl qb.

    in theory this should all work. i see a better mix on the offensive staff than the previous regime to be honest.

    and the defensive staff looks just as good as the previous one.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 12 hours ago by InvaderRam InvaderRam.

    in theory this should all work. i see a better mix on the offensive staff than the previous regime to be honest.

    Yes on both counts.

    Interesting that for example Olson had a chance to be a coordinator and turned it down to be the qb coach for the Rams. (A lot of it had to do with living in LA, which I think was because of family.)

    He has been a coordinator and/or qb coach since 2001. (Though he was at Purdue for a year in 2002…actually that was his 2nd stint at Purdue.) So that’s 5 years as a pro qb coach and 10 years as a pro coordinator.

    And then guess who he coached in college before that. He was the qb coach at Purdue when Brees was there.


    BonifayRam wrote this:

    Kromer is correct that the 11 OL’ers under contract are a very young cadre, with Saffold & Barnes being the well seasoned old farts @ only 28 yrs old. David Arkin {OG/RT/OC} is 29 but has only suited up for 3 games. Saffold who has played in 83 games in 7 seasons is the most experienced of the unit. However his body does have some major repair worked on many previous wrecks. Barnes who has suited up for 77 games, does have some dents too in his shoulders & last season with his foot but is in much better shape wise than Saffold.

    When the Rams last changed HC & OL coaches in 2012….of the 12 Ram OL’ers from 2011 only 2 remained as Rams (Saffold & Barnes) and only one played in the 2012 season. A very BIG turnaround, for sure. Things are a bit different in the OL in 2017 from back then. There is a much bigger investments of OL’ers through the draft in 2014 & 2015 than what we had invested back in 2010-11.

    In terms of just who has suited up, after Saffold and Barnes, the next group consists of Robinson (46 games), Rhaney (32 games), Havenstein (28 games), Wichmann (24 games) Donnal (21 games), Brown (20 games) and Murphy (16 games). They are barely broken in yet.

    And injuries are an issue. Brown has had two surgeries his first two seasons & one IR, Wichmann has had two high ankle sprains in his first two seasons, & Havenstein had one nagging injury after another after another in 2016. Then there’s Williams who is another injury OL waiting to happen after two NFL seasons with physical health issues.


    i think there are salvageable pieces on the line. i actually wonder with all the problems across the entire line whether there was a problem with boudreau. if for whatever reason he just wasn’t getting through to the guys. cuz i think there’s talent there.

    And injuries are an issue. Brown has had two surgeries his first two seasons & one IR, Wichmann has had two high ankle sprains in his first two seasons, & Havenstein had one nagging injury after another after another in 2016. Then there’s Williams who is another injury OL waiting to happen after two NFL seasons with physical health issues.

    also wonder if there could be a strength and conditioning issue with all these injuries on the line? i don’t know.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 11 hours ago by InvaderRam InvaderRam.
    • This reply was modified 2 days, 10 hours ago by InvaderRam InvaderRam.

    Rams’ new O-line coach sees a young group he can work with

    By Alden Gonzalez

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Aaron Kromer, the Los Angeles Rams’ new offensive line coach, said he is “excited” about the group he will now oversee, which, on the surface, sounds odd. Kromer is inheriting a collection of offensive linemen who were nothing short of dreadful throughout the 2016 season. They couldn’t open holes for their star running back, Todd Gurley, and they couldn’t keep their franchise quarterback, Jared Goff, upright.

    Not much to be excited about, unless you ask Kromer.

    “The reason is the youth,” Kromer said. “When you look at it, there’s not many offensive lines in the league that have second- and third-year players across the board, other than the center with five. It’s got to be one of the youngest groups in the league, and the backups are just as young.”

    Kromer mistakenly omitted Rodger Saffold, a seven-year veteran who might have been the Rams’ best offensive lineman this past season. But besides that, he’s right. Outside of Saffold and center Tim Barnes, an undrafted free agent from 2011, the Rams’ offensive line is awfully young, a product of the seven draft picks used on the position from 2014 to ’15.

    That includes left tackle Greg Robinson (the second overall pick in 2014), right tackle Rob Havenstein (second round in 2015) and the three linemen who started at right guard this past season: Jamon Brown (third round in 2015), Cody Wichmann (sixth round in 2015) and Andrew Donnal (fourth round in 2015). Besides David Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, all of the incumbent backups have completed no more than three NFL seasons, including Demetrius Rhaney (seventh round in 2014), Darrell Williams (undrafted in 2015) and Pace Murphy (undrafted in 2016).

    Kromer believes he can still mold them.

    “We’ve got work to do; we get that,” Kromer said. “But I feel good watching the tape of individually their skills that they have and trying to put five guys together that can work together to have success. … It’s going to be a lot of hard work for them; it’s going to be a lot of hard work for us. But I think the best quality a coach can have is to be able to teach and be a good communicator. We have to teach these guys exactly what we want and become repetitive with what we’re looking for.”

    Kromer, who replaces longtime coach Paul Boudreau, has spent the last 16 years in the NFL, serving as a senior assistant, a running backs coach, an offensive coordinator, an interim head coach and, mostly, an offensive-line coach. Kromer coached offensive lines for the Raiders (2002 to ’04), Buccaneers (2006 to ’07), Saints (2009 to ’12) and Bills (2015 to ’16). During his four-year stint with the Saints, Kromer coached five offensive linemen who went to a combined 10 Pro Bowls. And over his last two years in Buffalo, the Bills led the NFL with 5.06 rushing yards per carry.

    Behind the Rams’ offensive line in 2016, Gurley averaged 3.18 rushing yards per carry, the second-worst rate in the NFL, and Goff was sacked an NFL-leading 25 times over his last six games.

    The first step in turning the offensive line around is deciding what to do with Robinson, but Kromer isn’t taking this job with any preconceived notions. He generally doesn’t want outside opinions. He’d rather make determinations on his own, and he sees this as “a new start” for every Rams offensive lineman, free to make of it what they want.

    “We all know that the whole line has to improve,” Kromer said. “We all see that, and you see that on tape. But individually, I see skills, we see skills, in these guys, that if we can pull them together, and get them working together, which we see is possible, that we can get the group much better. It’s just going to be a process. I don’t know how long that process is going to take. Is it going to take a month, is it going to take a year, is it going to take two years? I don’t know that, and I don’t know if we need to add somebody yet. I can’t answer that yet. But I do see individual skills in each one of these guys that should allow them to have success.”

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