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Stuck in the middle

The latest addition to the Rams o-line received a warm welcome at yesterday's meet and greet presser. After last season, I'm surprised the team didn't try to get a parade together to welcome someone with any sort of pedigree for the offensive line. Even with the big question mark at center still looming, the Bell signing is the best Rams news I've heard in awhile.

Although he can play other positions, Bell made his money as a left guard and will continue to do so in St. Louis. Let's take a look back at his last two seasons with the Titans where he started at LG. (All info comes from Football Outsiders.)

Average line yards (NFL rank)

  1. 4.33 (9th)
  2. 3.94 (27th)
  1. 71% (6th)
  2. 67% (13th)
Directional adjusted line yards - Mid/Guard
  1. 4.44 (7th)
  2. 4.08 (23rd)
Tennessee had one of the best rushing attacks in the game last season. The run game was the only regularly functioning aspect of their offense too, and it was good enough to get them a trip to the playoffs.

I included the power numbers because they reflect 3rd and 4th down runs with less than 2 yards to go that resulted in a TD or first down, a situation where runs up the middle are important and frequent plays. (The Rams ranked 26th in the league in the power department last season.) A speedy QB like Vince Young also helps in that department, but someone's gotta open those holes for him to run through, right?

Rank-wise, the directional number took a big jump for the Titans this season. Undoubtedly, some of the credit for that goes to Bell and their o-line coach, Mike Munchak, as the guard really emerged in his third season of pro play. Titans blog Music City Miracles has more insight.

Find the right center, and the middle of the Rams o-line should once again be a force to be reckoned with.