I like Brian Leonard as much as the next guy. His hands make him an asset, and I suspect had the Rams line been in better shape this season we might have seen some notable games from the Rams 2007 second round pick.
But we didn't. And with the line devastated by injuries, we've also seen highly suspect pass blocking from the Rams backfield. Now, lest you think I'm taking Leonard to task on his own, it's worth pointing out that Steven Jackson is hardly a world beater when it comes to blocking himself. Steven Jackson's value lies in his running and pass catching abilities, letting him off the hook for blocking that doesn't match the rest of his skill level. Leonard, however, was drafted - in the second round - to be a fullback, one whose playmaking abilities offered a nice little bonus.
At the time, a lot of pundits raised their eyebrows at the pick, asking why Leonard was a second round pick; although, those questions mostly stemmed from the belief that the Rams had other, more pressing needs to address with a second round pick. Still, Leonard was someone who could shoulder some of Jackson's load and protect that investment. Enter Antonio Pittman, who looks to be a nice pick up for a back up running back.
(The real irony here is that we all thought Linehan would use Leonard and really open up this offense, along with the Bennett and McMichael acquisitions, and make it into a high scoring force with a wild variety of plays. Yep. That panned out exactly as predicted.)
I'm not here to eviscerate Leonard, not at all. But the Rams need some better blocking from the backfield players - the tight ends share the blame here as well. Time and time again, opposing defensive linemen have flooded into the backfield to injure the Rams quarterbacks and generally disrupt the plays - sometimes passes and sometimes runs - with the secondary blockers that aren't on the line easily pushed aside, giving opposing DEs the chance to shine like the back up running backs got last season against the Rams defensive front. Fullback may once again be on the Rams offseason shopping list.