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The St. Louis Rams offensive line struggled against the Chicago Bears last week. How will they adjust to an even better Seattle defensive front?
Week 3 was not a good one for the St. Louis Rams offensive line. Quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked six times, hit three times and hurried on another 13 snaps. Do the math. Bradford was pressured on 22 snaps. He had 35 passing attempts, which means he was harassed 63 percent of the time by the Bears' defensive line.
Seattle, this week's opponent, did even more damage to their opponent last week, the Green Bay Packers, without any help from the refs until the last play of the game. It doesn't look like a good matchup for the Rams this week, does it?
Some notes on the Rams offensive line from Andy Benoit at the New York Times from his film study:
Their offensive line was overmatched in all facets. For the most part, Wayne Hunter, starting for injured left tackle Rodger Saffold, actually held his own against Julius Peppers. But left guard Quinn Ojinnaka and right tackle Barry Richardson were manhandled no matter whom they faced. These problems prevented the Rams from establishing the run, which meant Sam Bradford had to face heavy seven-man zone coverages without the benefit of deception in the pass plays.
Without a running game, the Rams don't have an offense. The play action, roll outs ... the entire playbook demands a marginally effective running game to get the rest of the moving parts going.
If you look at the grades from Pro Football Focus, the only lineman to come out of that game with a positive grade was center Robert Turner, who has easily been the most pleasant surprise out of everyone on the Rams front five this year. And to think they spent $24 million on a free agent center to put injured reserve. There's some discrepancy in the film reviews from PFF and the NYT. Per PFF, Hunter allowed one sack and six hurries.
Another unfortunate side effect of poor blocking, the return of tentative Bradford in the pocket.
That's a losing proposition given St. Louis's utter lack of potency at outside receiver. Bradford played a bit anxiously at times and also had a tendency to ignore half the field in locking onto his initial reads. He paid dearly for this on the decisive pick-six involving Tim Jennings and Major Wright in the fourth quarter.
Cabin fever. Bradford had been well on his past all that through two games this season.
Back to the present. Seattle brings a defensive line with better depth than Chicago's. They worked right tackle Bryan Bulaga over for a pair of sacks and eight pressures on Monday night. But there's one important distinction to make here: all of Seattle's sacks came in the first half of the game. What changed for Green Bay?
In the second half, the Packers started running out of more two-tight end sets, bringing extra blockers to help their beleaguered linemen. The Rams did the same thing early in the second half of their game against Chicago, but suddenly decided to abandon that in favor of some sort of strange spread offense type thing after some marginally successful drives in the third quarter.
The Rams will most likely have to start the game this week in a similar formation, with extra blockers and an early emphasis on the run.
One of the most refreshing changes from Jeff Fisher versus the previous coaches is the smart, focused preparation for games and the ability to make adjustments in the middle of the action (well, save for that strange ploy by the offense in the fourth quarter last week). That knack will be tested this week.