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The Rams started out the new year with many needs, among them, the offensive line. Perhaps no other facet of the game needed to be addressed more than the big men protecting the Rams $50 million quaterback, Sam Bradford. Many fans, myself included, wanted to see a new direction; specifically the release of Jason Smith and the drafting of a blue chip left tackle.
In the months leading up to the draft, the fog cleared and Rams Nation realized that the team was not going to be able to draft our dream in Matt Kalil. Instead, the team was going to stick with who they had in the trenches, along with a few free agent acquisitions. It would be left up to the new coaching staff to turn the ship in a new direction. And boy let me tell you, have we got a few guys that might just be up to the task.
Offensive Line Assistant- Andy Dickerson Andy Dickerson is one of those hires, who - like Simmons of the defensive line coaches - is a young, up and coming coach. He doesn’t have a very long resume, but the people he has worked with are some of the best in the business. Andy has worked alongside Eric Mangini , Bill Belichick, and our own Brian Schottenheimer. Dickerson started out his athletic career wrestling in high school and competing in various track and field events along with playing on the offensive line at Tufts College from 1999-2000.
Andy worked with the Redskins in 2003 as a camp intern, then went on to work with the Patriots starting in 2004 as an intern before being promoted to operations the following year. In 2006, Andy took a job with the New York Jets working as a coaching assistant and quality control for the defense till 2008. He went on to do the same job for the Cleveland Browns in 2009 and assisted with the Browns offensive line in 2010. In 2011, Dickerson returned to the Jets as a coaches assistant. Working with one of the best minds in coaching (Paul Boudreau) will be of great benefit to Andy and to the Rams. Dickerson has rubbed elbows with some of the industry’s best, and coach Fisher obviously thinks he has the potential to help out his team in one of the most crucial areas.
Offensive Line- Paul Boudreau
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Paul Boudreau’s coaching credentials read like an Orlando Pace highlight reel. Paul has been coaching in the NFL before the majority of us on Turf Show Times were born. The man has been in the league for the last 26 years. Paul Boudreau’s offensive lines have blocked for 4 of the league’s 10,000 yard rushers in Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, and Fred Taylor. Not bad.
This isn’t Paul’s first stint with the Rams. He had two years with the Rams from 2006-2007. During that time frame, Steven Jackson rushed for a career high 1,528 yards in 2007 and his 2nd 1,000 yard season in 2006. Of course, Jackson didn’t do all of that running alone. It was the offensive line that did a lot of the work. Fred Taylor also had a career year running behind a Boudreau coached line with the Jaguars in 2003.
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So we can see his lines can run block. What can he do for keeping the quarterback upright?
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From 1987-1993 Paul coached the New Orleans Saints offensive line. During that time the Saints finished in the top three in fewest sacks allowed during four seasons. Even more impressive was the 15 sack season of 1992. The Jaguars also had great success with pass blocking setting a franchise record in 2003, allowing only 28 sacks during that records setting year for Fred Taylor.
More recently, Paul worked with the Atlanta Falcons who had a top 10 finishes in points scored in 2010 and 2011- placing 5th in 2010. The trench men allowed only 1 sack per 21 pass plays in 2009, finishing 2nd in the league in fewest sacks allowed. His most impressive season in Atlanta came in 2008 when the running game ranked 2nd in the league and only 17 sacks were allowed. With Jason Smith coming into a "prove it" year, and Roger Saffold playing out of his natural position, Paul seems to have his work cut out for him.
Thankfully, the line has a new veteran presence with a winning attitude in one Scott Wells- a guy used to excellence. With new additions through the draft such as Rokevious Watkins and undrafted free agents Michael Hay, Bob Hebert, and Joe Long, Boudreau has a lot of coaching to do. His familiarity with Harvey Dahl will help things along significantly, due to their time together in Atlanta. Before too long we will get our first look at the St. Louis Rams offensive line under Paul Boudreau, and you can bet it will look nothing like the line that gave up 47 sacks last year. Boudreau is an artist with the offensive line, and right now there is a big mound of clay just waiting to be spun into a masterpiece.