Rams vs. Bears: The Rams' Excuse for an OL Is the Difference on the Road
After putting up 452 yards of total offense last week, Brian Schottenheimer's offense came back down to earth today. Playing the Bears at Soldier Field is no easy task, especially when Chicago is coming off of a lopsided loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Sam Bradford and company were looking to pick up right where they left off last week, yet Julius Peppers and the Bears' defensive line had different ideas. At game's end they had pummeled Bradford into submission by sacking him six times and hitting him nine other times.
Israel Idonije led the charge as he single-handedly owned both Rams' offensive tackles. When going against Wayner Hunter and Barry Richardson he registered two and a half sacks and four quarterback hits all on his own.
It wasn't quite as dominant as Clay Matthews' performance on Thursday Night Football in Week 2, yet there's no question the coaching staff will have him graded out awfully high after a performance like that.
Offensively, St. Louis only managed to string together 152 yards. They haven't had this pathetic of a showing since their Week 17 loss to the 49ers in 2009. At least then they were expected to struggle with Kyle Boller and Keith Null under center.
Unfortunately, they have no one to blame other than themselves for today's debacle. Going into the season, how could have the Rams front office been satisfied with the depth along the offensive line? I know injuries are a killer and they can change the whole complexion of the offense, but in reality the Rams have one solid starter on the offensive line right now.
Harvey Dahl was the only one who showed up to play in 2011 and it appears that is the trend again in 2012. When you have $60 million invested in your quarterback, it may be wise to put some talent in front of him. And for those of you who think Richardson, Hunter and Quinn Ojinnaka have talent, please stop thinking that.
The Chiefs let Richardson walk for a reason. He gave up a combined 50 quarterback pressures on his own last year, not to mention the fact he was the worst run blocker in the league. I will admit his run blocking has done a one-eighty, but it's hard to score any points when your quarterback is on his back.
Ojinnaka is in the same exact boat. He has proven in limited action that he is a willing and able run blocker, but his pass protection skills are hit or miss. In his first start last week he gave up one sack and one quarterback hit, which isn't too bad. However, getting bull rushed and knocked on your butt multiple times could be cause for concern.
With Rodger Saffold and Scott Wells out until midseason, these next few weeks may prove to be sink or swim for the Rams offensive line. From here until their bye they square off against Seattle, Arizona, Miami, Green Bay and New England. All five of those teams can effectively get after the quarterback.
My words of advice would be to not abandon the run like they did today against Chicago. And stop trying to play Steven Jackson hurt, it does no good whatsoever.
Coach Fisher has this team headed in the right direction, but until this offensive line can play up to a respectable level, it's going to be hard to catch the other three members of the NFC West.
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