Joseph Noteboom has started 16 games in his career and played 1,192 snaps on offense since being a third-round pick in 2018. He’s played left tackle and guard, but on Sunday against the Jaguars, he took on a new role for the Rams: a sixth offensive lineman.
Noteboom reported in as an eligible receiver nine times over the course of the game, coming onto the field as an extra blocker along the offensive line. It was a new wrinkle in the Rams offense, something we hadn’t seen much of – if at all – from Sean McVay in the past.
Needless to say, it was a brilliant addition to the playbook.
When the Rams ran the ball with Noteboom on the field as a sixth offensive lineman, Sony Michel broke off three 6-yard runs, a rush of 7 yards, a 9-yard carry and a run that went for 25 yards. That’s an average of 9.8 yards per carry on those six runs, accounting for 59 of Michel’s 121 yards rushing on just six plays.
Here’s a look at Michel’s 25-yard run, and you can clearly see Noteboom win his matchup to open up the hole on the right side. Ben Skowronek and Kendall Blanton did a great job, too.
According to our #'s (@PFF):
Missed tackles forced/attempt:
🔹 0.17 for Sony Michel
🔹 0.13 for Darrell Henderson
Yards after contact/attempt:
🔹 2.8 for Michel
🔹 2.5 for Hendo
Do they got a new RB1? They should. pic.twitter.com/YKYX0EVrY6
— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) December 6, 2021
The heavy package worked when the Rams threw the ball, too, with the exception of one play. When Noteboom reported eligible on passing plays, Matthew Stafford hit Michel for a 4-yard gain and Tyler Higbee for a 22-yard pass down to the Jaguars’ 1-yard line. He was also sacked for a 5-yard loss, which was the only negative play with six linemen on the field.
So if you add up all nine of Noteboom’s plays as an eligible receiver, the Rams gained 80 yards, which works out to an average of about 9 yards per play. On their other 57 plays, they averaged about 6 yards per play.
Obviously, it’s a small sample size, but there’s no doubt this new package with Noteboom as the sixth offensive lineman worked in the Rams’ favor and it’s something they should continue to use, especially when running the ball.
McVay spoke highly of Noteboom on the “Coach McVay Show” this week, showing regret for not incorporating the fourth-year player more often in the past.
“I think it was an opportunity to get some really good football players on the field. You can’t tell me Joe Noteboom’s not one of our best 11 football players,” McVay said. “To not find ways to get him involved in some form or fashion, I think shame on us. Really great job by ‘Carbs’ (OL coach Kevin Carberry) and his group being able to get those guys ready to go. I thought he did an outstanding job.”
Don’t expect the Rams to use this heavy package 15-20 times a game, but as an offensive wrinkle in certain situations, it can keep the defense off balance. And it only works when you have a lineman who can climb to the second level and seal off edge defenders the way Noteboom did.
As McVay said, he was excellent against Jacksonville, and it was reflected in his 92.2 overall grade at Pro Football Focus.