Steelers, Rams Set Offensive Line Continuity Records

Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line
Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - The Los Angeles Rams went from Super Bowl champions to 12-game losers in part because their offensive line fell apart. The Pittsburgh Steelers won six of their last seven games with a rookie quarterback in part because their offensive line stayed together. Both teams set records in offensive line continuity, but for wildly different reasons.

The Steelers led the league last year in offensive line continuity score, which measures an offense's ability to field a consistent starting quintet week-in and week-out, while the Rams finished in last place. (The details of continuity score are explained below.) The Rams, however, are the bigger story, not only because they were the reigning Super Bowl champions, but because offensive line continuity has been Sean McVay's calling card since he joined L.A. in 2017. In his first five seasons, the Rams finished first twice and second once, and never worse than 12th. Last year, obviously, that changed, and everything went to hell.

L.A. Rams Offensive Line Continuity Under Sean McVay
Year Number
of Starters
2017 9 1 15 42 1
2018 5 0 16 48 1
2019 9 5 7 30 12
2020 6 2 7 36 2
2021 8 6 7 32 7
2022 14 13 3 15 32

Fourteen different starting offensive linemen is the most for any team in our records going back to 1999. L.A.'s continuity score of 15 is tied with the 2015 Patriots and 2020 Eagles for lowest on record, but each of those teams played 16-game schedules, meaning their maximum possible continuity score was 48. With a 17th game, last year's Rams had a maximum score of 51, but they only got 29.4% of the way there, the first team we have tracked to finish below 30.0% of their respective max score.

We have already mentioned the unprecedented amount of injuries the Rams suffered along the offensive line, and how it tanked any chance they had to repeat, but we haven't gone into detail about the havoc they suffered nearly every week. Today, however, we delve into the disaster, one catastrophe at a time.

To Live and (Practically) Die in L.A.

Preseason: Andrew Whitworth retired after the Super Bowl win over Cincinnati, but the Rams had a replacement on hand in Joe Noteboom, who had started 15 games for Los Angeles in 2019 and 2020. With left guard David Edwards, center Brian Allen, and right tackle Rob Havenstein all returning, the Rams had just one opening, an opening they tried to fill by drafting Logan Bruss out of Wisconsin to play right guard. Bruss, however, tore knee ligaments in August and missed his entire rookie season. Coleman Shelton, who went undrafted in 2018 and had made only two starts in his first four seasons, stepped into the lineup for opening day.

Week 1: The Noteboom-Edwards-Allen-Shelton-Havenstein line plays every snap on offense. That's about the only thing that goes right for Los Angeles in a 31-10 loss to the Bills.

Week 2: Allen undergoes midweek knee surgery that knocks him out for six games. Shelton slides over to center with Tremayne Anchrum starting at right guard. Anchrum, a 2020 seventh-rounder who missed the entire Super Bowl season with a knee injury, plays only two snaps against Atlanta before suffering a broken leg that ends his season. Alaric Jackson, who had gone undrafted out of Iowa in 2021, plays in Anchrum's absence.

Week 3: The Noteboom-Edwards-Shelton-Jackson-Havenstein line starts against Arizona and comes out mostly unscathed, missing only three snaps between them.

Week 4: Edwards goes into concussion protocol and misses the game against San Francisco. Bobby Evans (who started seven games as a third-round rookie in 2019 but had been nailed to the bench ever since) starts at left guard and goes the whole way. Shelton, however, plays only 16 snaps before suffering an ankle injury that will knock him out for the next four games. Jeremiah Kolone, a fifth-year pro who had never played an offensive snap before, is now your starting center.

Week 5: Edwards returns at left guard but lasts only 53 snaps before going back into concussion protocol. He will miss the rest of the season.

Week 6: Evans returns at left guard. Noteboom plays six snaps before tearing his Achilles tendon, an injury that ends his season. Jackson, who had been the fourth-stringer at right guard, moves over to Noteboom's spot at left tackle. Oday Aboushi (a veteran journeyman on his seventh team in nine seasons) takes over at right guard.

Week 7: The Rams have a much-needed bye.

Week 8: Allen returns at center, and the Jackson-Evans-Allen-Aboushi-Havenstein line plays every snap against San Francisco. The Rams lose 31-14.

Week 9: Aboushi is benched for Chandler Brewer, a former UDFA who had played seven games for L.A. in 2019 but had opted out due to COVID in 2020 and spent 2021 on the practice squad. He is the fifth different right guard the Rams have used in eight regular-season games (and that's not even counting Logan Bruss, the expected starter). Jackson, meanwhile, leaves the game in the second half and is sidelined for the rest of the year with blood clots. His spot at left tackle is filled by Ty Nsekhe, a veteran journeyman who had been signed off the street in October and is now on his fourth team in five seasons.

Week 10: Shelton returns and starts at left guard, his third different position in the five games he has played. The Nsekhe-Shelton-Allen-Brewer-Havenstein line plays every snap in a 27-17 loss to the Cardinals.

Week 11: Allen misses the Saints game with a thumb injury. Shelton slides back over to center. Your new left guard, the fourth of the year: Matt Skura, a long-time starter for the Ravens and Giants who had been signed to the practice squad in September. Nsekhe then leaves the game with an ankle injury.

Week 12: With Nsekhe still sidelined, your new left tackle (the fourth of the season) is AJ Arcuri, a seventh-round draftee out of Michigan State. The starting line plays every snap of a 26-10 loss to Kansas City.

Weeks 13 to 15: The Nsekhe-Skura-Allen-Shelton-Havenstein line starts three games in a row. This is the first time all season that the Rams have started the same five linemen in consecutive games, and it's a line that includes a second-stringer at right guard and third-stringers at left tackle and left guard. In Week 15, Allen plays exactly two snaps against Green Bay before leaving with a calf injury; his season is over.

Week 16: Shelton replaces Allen, now having gone from right guard to center to left guard to center to right guard and back to center in only 11 games played; Aboushi starts at right guard. With backups all over the field, the Rams annihilate a free-falling Broncos team 51-14, but Aboushi gets into a brawl after the game and is suspended for the following week.

Weeks 17 and 18: The Nsekhe-Skura-Shelton-Brewer-Havenstein unit starts both games and the season mercifully ends.

The final tallies: three different starters at center, four at left tackle and left guard, five at right guard … and just one at right tackle, where Rob Havenstein somehow survived the entire season, a feat for which he deserves some kind of medal.

The following table shows L.A.'s starting line for each week of the season, with starters in green, second-stringers in yellow, and third-stringers or worse in red. It tells the ugly tale of an ugly season.

L.A. Rams 2022 Starting Linemen, Week by Week
1 70-J.Noteboom 73-D.Edwards 55-B.Allen 65-C.Shelton 79-R.Havenstein
2 70-J.Noteboom 73-D.Edwards 65-C.Shelton 72-T.Anchrum 79-R.Havenstein
3 70-J.Noteboom 73-D.Edwards 65-C.Shelton 77-A.Jackson 79-R.Havenstein
4 70-J.Noteboom 71-B.Evans 65-C.Shelton 77-A.Jackson 79-R.Havenstein
5 70-J.Noteboom 73-D.Edwards 62-J.Kolone 77-A.Jackson 79-R.Havenstein
6 70-J.Noteboom 71-B.Evans 62-J.Kolone 77-A.Jackson 79-R.Havenstein
7 -- -- -- -- --
8 77-A.Jackson 71-B.Evans 55-B.Allen 63-O.Aboushi 79-R.Havenstein
9 77-A.Jackson 71-B.Evans 55-B.Allen 67-C.Brewer 79-R.Havenstein
10 68-T.Nsekhe 65-C.Shelton 55-B.Allen 67-C.Brewer 79-R.Havenstein
11 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 65-C.Shelton 63-O.Aboushi 79-R.Havenstein
12 61-A.Arcuri 64-M.Skura 65-C.Shelton 63-O.Aboushi 79-R.Havenstein
13 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 55-B.Allen 65-C.Shelton 79-R.Havenstein
14 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 55-B.Allen 65-C.Shelton 79-R.Havenstein
15 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 55-B.Allen 65-C.Shelton 79-R.Havenstein
16 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 65-C.Shelton 63-O.Aboushi 79-R.Havenstein
17 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 65-C.Shelton 67-C.Brewer 79-R.Havenstein
18 68-T.Nsekhe 64-M.Skura 65-C.Shelton 67-C.Brewer 79-R.Havenstein
Green = starter
Yellow = second-stringer
Red = third-stringer or worse

Problems Elsewhere

The Arizona Cardinals were second worst in continuity score in 2022. Kelvin Beachum missed only one start at right tackle (and in Week 18 at that), but Arizona had two different starters at left tackle, three at center and right guard, and five at left guard.

The New Orleans Saints also had trouble keeping the same five linemen on the field. Ryan Ramczyk, like Beachum in Arizona, started the first 16 games of the season at right tackle, and James Hurst started 16 games on the left side. But Andrus Peat and Calvin Throckmorton were constantly rotating at left guard, and center Erik McCoy and right guard Cesar Ruiz each missed three starts as well.

While New Orleans was solid at tackles but chaotic on the interior, the opposite was somewhat true for the New York Jets. Laken Tomlinson started every game at left guard, and Connor McGovern did the same at center. But the Jets had four different starters at left tackle and five on the right, adding four more at right guard for good measure.

Perfect Pittsburgh and Other Stable Teams

Dan Moore. Kevin Dotson. Mason Cole. James Daniels. Chukwuma Okorafor. From left to right, that was Pittsburgh's starting offensive line in Week 1 against Cincinnati, in Week 18 against Cleveland, and in each of the 15 games in between. The Steelers are the 40th team in our books to start the same five linemen in every game of the regular season, but the first to do so over 17 games. So they were not the first team with a perfect score in this category, but they were more perfect than the rest.

The Rams' terrible offensive line continuity was an anomaly, and so was the Steelers' stellar record. Pittsburgh has usually ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in this category in recent years. To his credit, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is well aware of how fortunate his team was last year, having said that "it would be naïve to think" they would be so lucky again in 2023.

Steelers Offensive Line Continuity, 2017-2022
Year Number
of Starters
2017 8 7 4 26 24
2018 8 6 5 28 18
2019 7 6 7 31 9
2020 9 9 5 24 18
2021 9 7 5 28 13
2022 5 0 17 51 1

The Steelers are followed by the Bengals and Panthers, two teams that used a total of only six starters and made just one lineup change each. Left tackle Jonah Williams, left guard Cordell Volson, center Ted Karras, and right guard Alex Cappa each started every regular-season game; La'el Collins started the first 15 games at right tackle with Hakeem Adeniji starting the last one. (Yes, that's only 16 games—we'll get back to that shortly.)

In Carolina, left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, left guard Brady Christensen, right guard Austin Corbett, and right tackle Taylor Moton each started every game. At center, the Panthers made only one change, with Pat Elflein starting the first six games of the year and Bradley Bozeman starting every game after that.

The Philadelphia Eagles, like the Bengals and Panthers, used only six starting linemen in 2022. Left guard Landon Dickerson, center Jason Kelce, and right guard Isaac Seumalo each started every game on the interior. The only backup who started: Jack Driscoll, who made one relief appearance at left tackle for Jordan Mailata and two at right for Lane Johnson.

So About the Bills and Bengals…

The canceled Monday night game between Buffalo and Cincinnati in Week 17 complicates our rankings somewhat. A team can only earn three points in offensive line continuity for each game played, which means the Bills and Bengals could only earn 48 points while the other 30 teams could each earn 51.

We can account for that by measuring the percentage of a perfect score each team achieved, as we did earlier when comparing the Rams to chaotic lines of the past. The Bengals had a raw continuity score of 45, which is 93.8% of their maximum score of 48; both were the second-best marks in the league behind Pittsburgh. Things are more complicated for the Bills; their raw continuity score of 23 was tied for 27th place with Chicago, but they hit 47.9% of their max, which ranked 24th. So their exact ranking is somewhat subjective.

However, while the game officially never happened, in reality each offense took the field for one drive before Damar Hamlin collapsed. It's not easy to tell what happened in that limited playing time—the video is not available on NFL+ and all official statistical records of the game were wiped out. A Twitter user named Brady Soho who tracks video availability of sporting events says the Bengals' starters were Jonah Williams, Cordell Volson, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and Hakeem Adeniji, while the Bills went with Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, and Spencer Brown. This makes sense; those are the same starters that took the field for Cincinnati and Buffalo in Week 18. If you plug those lineups into our formula, you get continuity scores of 47 for Cincinnati (still second behind Pittsburgh) and 25 for Buffalo (tied with Miami in 23rd place).

The Nuts and Bolts

Offensive line continuity scores were originally developed by Jason McKinley in the early days of FO (when FO Almanac was still Pro Football Prospectus) and we have subsequently gone back and calculated it for every team since 1999. The continuity scores are based on three variables:

  • number of starters used;
  • number of week-to-week changes in starting lineups;
  • and the longest starting streak of any one five-man unit.

A team can earn a maximum of 17 points in any one category (one point per game), meaning a team that started the same five linemen in all 17 games would get a perfect score of 51 (or 48 in a 16-game season). Forty teams have achieved perfect scores, including this year's Steelers. Hypothetically, if a team started five brand new linemen every week of the year, they would get a "perfect" score of -61, though of course nobody has ever come close to that. As mentioned earlier, last year's Rams tied the 2015 New England Patriots and 2020 Philadelphia Eagles for the worst continuity score on record at 15.

The following table shows full offensive line continuity results for all teams in 2022.

Offensive Line Continuity Scores, 2022
Team No. of
% of
PIT 5 0 17 51 100.0%
CIN 6 1 15 45 93.8%
CAR 6 1 11 43 84.3%
PHI 6 3 10 40 78.4%
JAX 7 2 9 39 76.5%
DAL 8 4 10 37 72.5%
MIN 9 4 10 36 70.6%
SEA 7 5 8 35 68.6%
KC 6 4 5 34 66.7%
HOU 8 5 6 32 62.7%
NYG 10 5 7 31 60.8%
CLE 7 6 4 30 58.8%
NE 9 6 6 30 58.8%
SF 8 6 5 30 58.8%
ATL 8 8 5 28 54.9%
GB 8 7 4 28 54.9%
BAL 10 7 6 28 54.9%
DET 8 8 5 28 54.9%
IND 8 8 4 27 52.9%
LV 9 8 5 27 52.9%
TB 8 8 4 27 52.9%
LAC 8 9 4 26 51.0%
MIA 9 9 4 25 49.0%
DEN 10 9 4 24 47.1%
TEN 10 8 3 24 47.1%
WAS 11 9 5 24 47.1%
CHI 8 11 3 23 45.1%
BUF 7 10 3 23 47.9%
NYJ 11 9 3 22 43.1%
NO 10 12 3 20 39.2%
ARI 13 10 3 19 37.3%
LAR 14 13 3 15 29.4%


15 comments, Last at 08 Apr 2023, 11:25pm

#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Apr 03, 2023 - 10:31am

With a 17th game, last year's Rams had a maximum score of 51, but they only got 29.4% of the way there, the first team we have tracked to finish below 30.0% of their respective max score.

Is their z-score higher or lower?

It seems like the odds of a perfect score decrease as you add games, so the odds of a lower continuity score would seem to increase as the n of games increases.

Points: 0

#3 by Theo // Apr 04, 2023 - 12:49pm

With a 17th game, last year's Rams had a maximum score of 51, but they only got 29.4% of the way there, the first team we have tracked to finish below 30.0% of their respective max score.

So, since you started scoring, they were worst continuity score ever, with only 29.4% of their maximum 51 points (17 games) which is the first time a team dropped below 30.

Points: 0

#2 by jds // Apr 04, 2023 - 8:57am

RIP. You will be missed. 

Points: 1

#4 by Ambientdonkey // Apr 04, 2023 - 3:40pm

Let us know when you guys are getting paid again and I'll renew my subscription.

Points: 6

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Apr 05, 2023 - 9:23am

Points: 4

#6 by Theo // Apr 05, 2023 - 12:48pm

Yeah, I think Edj Sports being taken over by Champion Gaming (whatever that is, their website is flimsy at best) who then had a management change... I really have a bad feeling about this.

And the writers will, too, since they are not getting paid. 

What I dont understand is that CG has 9 employees on linkedin (maybe more), but all they have is FO...

Points: 2

#7 by spybloom // Apr 05, 2023 - 2:46pm

Thanks for sharing that; I hadn't heard about this happening. They better get something sorted out soon, our FO writers deserve better

Points: 3

#8 by countertorque // Apr 05, 2023 - 4:17pm

Yikes!  I hadn't heard about this.  Thanks for sharing the link.

Points: 0

#9 by LondonMonarch // Apr 05, 2023 - 6:13pm

This was inevitable once they sold out, despite all the Edj Sports fanfare.


Points: 5

#10 by theslothook // Apr 06, 2023 - 11:57am

Wow, I did not realize this was happening. However, this practice of not paying people I've personally witnessed now several times. Rather than be grown ups about the situation; they'd rather play out the string in the desperate hopes of last minute fund raising that will keep the ship going without any tough conversations. Its just a terrible business practice all around. 

Wondering what this means for the future of footballoutsiders. 


Points: 3

#11 by Noahrk // Apr 06, 2023 - 1:12pm

If you ignore the issue maybe it will go away. More likely it will get worse. All the best to the site contributors, I hope this gets sorted out soon.

Points: 0

#12 by theslothook // Apr 06, 2023 - 1:19pm

Part of the job of being an executive is to be a grown up about situations, especially ones involving your employees who have lives that depend on getting paid. No one is doing this for charity and it is someone's actual livelihood at stake. Dicking people around strikes me as a serious betrayal of trust and indicative of the company's culture or lack thereof.


I've personally witnessed a lot of blame deflection and lack of responsibility when stuff like this happens. They even paint themselves as innocent victims in all of this.

Points: 2

#13 by Robopunter // Apr 06, 2023 - 8:36pm

Bogus situation. I'll gladly buy something once I can be sure the money is getting to the right people. Good luck.

Points: 1

#14 by Theo // Apr 08, 2023 - 5:50am

By now, I guess the owners just keep collecting the monthly payments and "try to find a solution to pay the writers". 

Bad situation.

Points: 0

#15 by LionInAZ // Apr 08, 2023 - 11:25pm

This is a predictable consequence of the expansion of sports betting. Corruption and incompetence by idiots chasing dollar signs. Everyone who bets on sports shares the blame.

Sports gambling in Arizona has surpassed legal marijuana in spending activity. And so many people thought pot was the big problem...

Points: -1

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