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New Line to Last

The makeshift line got a little less makeshift today, as reports circulated widely (as widely as Rams-related news circulates these days) that Linehan leans toward using the same formulation of the offensive line we saw this weekend in Oakland.

Is it a good decision? Well, given the fact that Pace and Timmerman and McCollum are injured, it's probably just as good as any line combination the Rams could string together in the interim. They played a nice game blocking for Steven Jackson against a decent Raiders defense that stacked the box to stop the run.

As for next season though...

Timmerman, 36, and McCollum, 37, are getting up there in age, but they're still favorites to win their starting roles back this summer. My preference would also be to defer to the two vets to start the season, they've got an established track record of success. However it's still good to see the young guys getting in their reps in a starting role this season, making them more of an asset should one of the older guys go down next year.

Whether or not the new line sticks, they'll need to take a remedial course in pass protection. The Rams' line has been one of the worst in protecting the precious QB this season, ranking 24th overall according to Football Outsiders pass protection rankings. They've allowed 41 sacks on the season, and 11 of those sacks have come in the Rams' last three games. Per FO, the Rams sack rate is an even 8%, meaning that Bulger gets sacked on 8% of the Rams' passing plays. Compare that to league leaders in pass protection, the Saints, who sport a sack rate of just 3.1%.

I'm assuming that the young guys on the line can learn better protection as they take more reps with Olson/Linehan's playbook. Blown blocking assignments would certainly be fewer, but they'd still have to muster the physical ability to stop guys like Shawne Merriman or Julius Peppers on a consistent basis.