Sitting back listening to some music (Eminem-Infinite) I thought about the Offensive Line and their difficulties this season keeping Bradford off his back. There has been much discussed about our line and I will admit they were downright awful this season. This Offensive Line went from being middle of the pack to the worst in one season so I ask you, was this because of their actual talent or was it because of outside factors that they could not be helped? Straying from the general consensus that we absolutely need to upgrade our Line through the draft (in the first); I believe our line is not as bad as many might think. I think their failure this season rests on three outside factors which are the shortened off season, Josh McDaniel’s failure to adjust to our strengths and our below average Wide Receiver corps. My arguments after the jump and as always, hope you enjoy:
The ordeal of Josh McDaniels and the shortened off season come hand in hand so I will address them first. As we all know thanks to the NFL lockout, this put strain on teams because through the lockout the head coaches and personnel could not communicate with the players. This specifically put pressure on the Rams because their Offensive coach the year before left for a Head Coaching gig with the Browns. Thanks to Josh McDaniels being new all he was able to do is send a play book to Sam when the lockout was temporarily lifted but this did not help as much because neither Sam nor the Offensive Line understood completely the concept without McDaniels being there.
The lockout was eventually permanently lifted and the NFL was back. In this situation any other Offensive Coordinator with a playbook as complicated as McDaniels would have cut it back, considering our line was practically the same (besides the addition of Dahl) to suit the strengths (more of a West Coast feel) but he did not do this. What do I mean by this, simple? In McDaniel’s offense it called for Sam to make drop backs and wait for his Wide Receiver routes to develop and when our Receivers could not get open (which was fairly often) our line could not deal. On the other hand, in Sam’s rookie season our offense was completely catered to him and this lines strengths. Although we all vocally hated the offense because of its conservativeness the offense got the ball out of Sam’s hand quick and did not put the stress on the line that McDaniels did. I look back on it and honestly I am not sure how we did not see the disaster of the 2011 season coming.
Secondly, this poor Wide Receiver corps did not help the matter either. Our Wide Receivers corps is the worst in the NFL and it showed this season. They sucked so badly, the defenses single covered them (besides Lloyd) and dared our Receivers to beat them but they could not. This corps continuously dropped the ball and could not get separation to save their lives. This put continuous stress on the line because this allowed the defense to stick eight in the box and they could only hold the line for so long. Lloyd’s arrival helped out a bit in the beginning but what the defense figured was they could double cover him and single cover everybody else, not worrying about the consequences and it worked.
What does this all add up to? Our line problems are not 1st round worthy nor should we pick linemen in the first round especially considering Guard is the only thing missing right now. I think people over exaggerate when it comes to the Offensive Line and instead of looking for the real problem they automatically lay the problems of the QB being sacked at the feet of the line. Not looking at other ways of fixing the problem. It seems like Fisher is trying to solve the problem through Free Agency. The only position that is still up in the air is the LG position and we could easily get that in later rounds like Brandon Washington from Miami or Kelechi Osemele from Iowa State. This is what our line looks like so far:
RG: Harvey Dahl
Those are my thoughts on why our line problems are not a first round need and the outside factors that affected our line this past season. Our line is not as bad as it was made out to be and I think that will be proved this upcoming season. Sure, Shotty's offense has been compared to McDaniels but Shotty has two things that McDaniels didn't and that's Fisher and a full off season with the offense. Fish doesn't seem like a kind of guy to just sit back and allow his team to go to hell in a hand basket. And having the full off season should give Sam and this line enough time to get down the offense.