Last night news broke that the St. Louis Rams would bench starting center Jason Brown. That ends his streak of 84 consecutive games started, including every game with Rams since being signed as a free agent in 2009. Brown, like others on the team, had been struggling with "mental lapses" as pointed out by starting quarterback Sam Bradford.
Brown had a real mental lapse against the Dallas Cowboys, in one of the uglier losses the Rams have suffered this season. He was tipping the snap, giving the Cowboys' defense an extra step off the ball and making the job of the Rams offense that much harder.
Oddly enough, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited team sources who said that Brown has graded out as one of the team's better offensive lineman. I jokingly said on Twitter last night that such assessment prowess was red flag in and of itself, another indicator of why they're 1-7.
The numbers at Pro Football Focus offered a little more insight on Brown. Last week against the Cardinals, Brown had an inexcusable -2.9 rating in pass blocking. According to their numbers, he allowed four quarterback pressures. His run blocking grade was positive, but it's been inconsistent all season. Going back to last season, his pass blocking graded out as mostly neutral, while his run blocking was a shocking -18.9.
You can draw your own conclusions from those numbers, but it should be pretty clear that Brown is not cutting the mustard, especially when held against a contract that makes him among the highest paid interior linemen in the league. The Rams made the right move in benching him.
A side note, credit to Brendan Wiese at KFNS who broke the story...and didnt' get credit from a number of other outlets. Having felt that sting before ourselves, I thought it was worth a mention again.