In a season of disappointments, the poor play of the St. Louis Rams offensive line ranks as one of the biggest disappointments of all. Sam Bradford is on pace to be sacked a potentially soul crushing, not to mention physically damaging, 72 times this season. However, if you look around the league, the Rams offensive line is hardly the only front five struggling.
Mike Martz found himself in hot water prior to last week's game for threatening another quarterback's life with his infamous system in Chicago. Even on some high powered teams, like Detroit and Atlanta, the offensive lines are struggling. As the New York Jets have leaned on the pass more than the run, their normally stout offensive line has been a hindrance.
Ross Tucker at ESPN had a short post on this very subject. One aspect to consider: just how much passing teams do in the league now.
The league has become increasingly pass-happy, and that means more pass-blocking than ever before. That is a problem. It's especially true when you consider that not only are defensive blitz schemes increasingly complex, teams are putting a tremendous focus on having four accomplished pass-rushers out there in every passing situation and often rotating players to keep them fresh. That much passing against good pass-rushers is a problem. Yes, college teams throw the ball all the time, but most college defenses have one or maybe two legitimate pass-rushers. In the NFL, a player isn't on the field in those situations if he can't rush.
Last year the Rams played a pretty weak schedule. In the second half, when this season's struggles really started, they struggled against the better teams in the league, particularly teams with aggressive blitzes, like the Saints.
Among the more perplexing struggles on the line is Rodger Saffold, but go back to what Tucker said about younger players. This is Saffold's second year. His rough start to the season is indeed a little perplexing and disappointing, but he's facing a pretty tough trial by fire with the schedule for far. He's also learning a new offense, a new offense that leans pretty heavily on the pass.
I'm not making excuses. I've been as critical of this team's play as anyone; however, Tucker's point should resonate to anyone watching the Rams.