The Key to the Offensive Line Doesn't Even Start

John MartinContributor IJune 25, 2009

ST. LOUIS - 2008:  Steve Loney of the St. Louis Rams poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Getty Images)

The key to the success of the St. Louis Rams this upcoming season may not be a starter.  In fact, he will never suit up or play a down.  The key to Rams success at offensive line in 2009 may be the offensive line coach Steve Loney.

Looking at his resume one cannot help to be impressed with his past achievements.  As the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2002-2005, the Vikings lead in several  categories each year including rushing yards and total offense.

The St. Louis Rams official website proudly boosts that the Rams 45 sacks allowed was the lowest since 2003.  Well, that might be a fact, but I am not sure I would broadcast that as an accomplishment.  For the record, the Rams 45 sacks allowed was 27th in the league.  It was three fewer than the 48 sacks allowed in 2007, but in the year of injuries and the new starting lineup each week it was a year Rams fans would like to forget.

The average sacks allowed by teams reaching the playoffs was 26.5 last season.  If the Rams are thinking of achieving any success this upcoming season, the sacks allowed by the offensive line has to drop.  When I say drop, I don’t mean three; the number of sacks allowed needs to reduced by half.  Another year with a rushed and banged up Bulger  will not get the Rams a winning season.  If anything, Bulger needs and deserves adequate protection to give him the confidence to execute Pat Shurmur’s offense.

Often head coaches and offensive coordinators can influence the success of the offensive line coach.  For Rams fans, let’s hope the new coaching staff allows Steve Loney to coach the offensive line to the level that was achieved during his tenure in Minnesota.

Orlando Pace is gone.  The additions of Jason Brown at center and Jason Smith at tackle could be a formidable offense line with Alex Barron, Richie Incognito, and Jacob Bell.  Personally I am a little pessimistic since the key to the offensive line doesn’t wear a jersey and has little to show from last year.