The St. Louis Rams offensive line has struggled this season, but not as much as in previous years. The starting group has only played a handful of games together, but it's become obvious that the Rams need to upgrade their O-Line.
So using the Rams latest game against the Vikings, I decided to breakdown the Rams offensive line and why it always seem like Sam is under duress.
Sack number 1. The game is scoreless 1st quarter 13:39, 2nd and 10, ball at the 23
It's the third play of the game, and the Rams come out in "21" personnel (2 RBs, and 1 Tight End, not pictured.). Sam motioned Lance Kendricks who was the fullback to the left tight end spot. There are two WR's on the field, both playing on the outside (I believe they are Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens) but that, much like the Vikings secondary doesn't matter on this breakdown and you will see why.
The Vikings are playing their base 4-3 defense. Down below the red lines show who the offensive line will block. The blue line indicates that Kendricks will run a route ( he even get's open). The tan line shows coverage.
Now the ball is snapped. The Rams run a play action to Steven Jackson, and Lance Kendricks goes out on a route. Matthew Mulligan decides to dance with Chad Greenway. Leaving Barry Richardson one on one with the Vikings Brian Robison. The RG is blocking his defensive tackle well, and Scott Well's has good protection on his defensive tackle, but Robert Turner decides to help him too. Leaving Erin Henderson with a clear lane to the QB. Oh, and down below you will see Rodger Saffold getting his ass handed to him. Jared Allen is too quick off the ball, and Rodger can't get into good position on him as Allen moves Saffold hands out the way. Even though Saffold is beaten, he tries to slow him down with only his left hand being in good position.
As soon as Sam Bradford sets his feet Robison is there. He easily beats Richardson to the outside. Richardson was only able to to block him for maybe a second, but he was too fast. Of course, Jared Allen finally beat Saffold and meets his teammate at Bradford. Steven Jackson did pick up Henderson, but Bradford was already a goner.
Sack 3 (sack 2 was the fumble on Bradford). The score is Vikings 24 and Rams 7. 2nd quarter 7:14, 3rd and 8, ball at the Rams 22
This time the Rams come out in shotgun. Lance Kendricks and Daryl Richardson are in the backfield. Gibson is alone as the right outside receiver and on the left is Givens with Danny Amendola in the slot. The defense has 2 linebackers on the defensive line looking like a blitz.
At this point the ball is snapped, and the defense jumps out of their blitz look and drop back into coverage. The offensive line isn't fooled however and the defensive line is picked up.
Williams moves from outside of the right guard to Well, who picks it up beautifully. The only problem is Robert Turner needs help. Christian Ballard beats Turner at the snap of the ball with just his speed, crosses his face and has a free run at the QB. Turner most likely thought he had some help from Well's who had his hands busy with the defensive tackle.
The green arrows are the players going out on routes, and the black arrow is Ballard.
Here's the all-22 view of the coverage. Sam could have checked it down to Richardson or Kendricks, but the chances of them getting a first down was slim. The best option would have been Amendola running an out route.
Do the Rams need upgrades on their offensive line? Yes, but honestly once they get those upgrades they will have to give the offensive line some time to gel with each other, and get comfortable with the offensive.