St. Louis Rams: Why Paul Boudreau Is the Key to the Rams' Success in 2012

David HeebCorrespondent IMay 8, 2012

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14:  Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau of the Atlanta Falcons directs play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Paul Boudreau might just be the most important man at Rams' Park. He is the key to protecting Sam Bradford. It's also his job to make sure holes open up for Steven Jackson. He is the person responsible for the Rams' offense avoiding those 'three-and-outs' that wear out the Rams' defense.

Paul Boudreau is the Rams' offensive line coach, and he should be a major person of interest for Rams' fans everywhere.

Boudreau might be as important as any coach on the Rams' staff in 2012. If recent history has taught us anything, it's that the game is won or lost in the trenches, right?

If your offensive line is constantly getting killed, then your QB has no time to throw, so it doesn't matter if your receivers are good or not. If your O Line is getting pushed backwards on every play, then it doesn't matter that you have Steven Jackson on your team, because he has no holes to run through.

Football is still a man's game, and it is Paul Boudreau's job to make sure the men up front start playing aggressive, physical, nasty football again.

I did a little research on Boudreau, and I found out some interesting facts about him that should encourage Rams' fans.

  • Paul Boudreau will be entering his 26th season as an NFL coach.
  • During that time, he has coached the O Line in New Orleans, Detroit, Miami, New England, Carolina, Jacksonville, St. Louis (2006-2007), Atlanta and now St. Louis again.
  • Boudreau has coached lines that helped Barry Sanders rush for over 1,500 yards three times.
  • Boudreau's O Line led to Steven Jackson rushing for a career best 1,528 yards in 2006.
  • Boudreau's O Line led to Michael Turner rushing for a career best 1,699 yards in 2008.

Boudreau inherited an O Line that gave up 47 sacks in 2007. That same group of "no-name O Lineman" protected Matt Ryan, then a rookie in 2008, and only allowed 17 sacks (3.8 percent) in 2008, 19 sacks (4.0 percent) in 2009, 23 sacks (3.9 percent) in 2010, and 23 sacks (4.4 percent) in 2011.

It should be noted that the Falcons lost Harvey Dahl via free agency (to the Rams) prior to the 2011 season, and they also suffered various injuries to their O Line. Still, that 4.4 percent sack rate is less than half of the 9.2 percent that the Rams gave up in 2011.

Falcons' fans were sad to see Boudreau leave.

If Boudreau can get the Rams' O Line to play up to their talent level, this unit could single handedly elevate the Rams to a playoff contender in 2012.

Their is high priced talent across the line. Dahl was a high priced acquisition in 2011, Scott Wells was a high priced free agent pickup in 2012, Jason Smith was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft and Rodger Saffold was the No. 33 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

The only position that is a question mark in the group is left guard—where incumbent Jacob Bell left via free agency.

The Rams have elite talent at quarterback (Bradford), running back (Jackson), and they have emerging young players at tight end (Lance Kendricks) and receiver (Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Greg Salas, etc). If the O Line does their job, the Rams' offense could experience a serious breakout in 2012.

It's all up to the O Line. Paul Boudreau is the man assigned with the task of "lighting a fire" under this group, and based on his history, he is just the man for the job.