The Truth About Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams' Offensive Line
So here we sit just about four-and-half days away from the draft. Please, pardon me for this rant, my fellow Ram fans, but this is our last chance to stop the suicide express.
They say one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Ram HQ seems set to score positive on this diagnostic for insanity. We will know on Thursday April 22, around 7:15pm Eastern time.
The Rams just terminated the Marc Bulger era a few weeks ago. This era was marked by two major features: A poor offensive line that surrendered 40+ sacks each year and every year for nine years straight, and a frail quarterback who suffered one injury after another and played little. Every fact you need to explain the Rams recent record of futility can be found within these two points.
So what do the Rams intend to do about it? Release Marc Bulger, draft a new frail quarterback named Sam Bradford, and continue with the same pathetic offensive line. They say one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
First things first, let's prove that young Mr. Bradford is a frail passer. QB Sam claims that his shoulder injury is the only serious injury he ever suffered. It was just a fluke happen chance event. It's not likely to happen again.
Really? Mr. Bradford, what is that black device I see on your knee? Is that an orthopedic knee brace? Can you explain to me why you wear that during games? Mr. Bradford, what is that fiberglass cast I see on your hand? The one in all your Heisman photos? You seem to be hoisting the Heisman trophy with a broken hand. How did that happen...? You did suffer a third degree sprain of the AC joint. correct? Twice, correct? This involves the tearing of all three ligaments which hold that joint together, correct? This was aggravated later by another hit, correct? Dr. James R. Andrews did an arthroscopic procedure to repair that, correct?
It should be noted that Sam played at Oklahoma. Oklahoma plays in the Big-12. The Big-12 is not well noted for stout defenses. Oklahoma is noted for their superior offensive line. Trent Williams, Sam's blind side protector, may yet finish as the top ranked offensive tackle on the board. The two hits that injured Sam were not particularly remarkable hits, either. This was not a case of Jack Tatum, Ronnie Lott or Steve Atwater putting the wood to him. Sam was hit very rarely during his time at Oklahoma. They kept his jersey clean, and yet he had all these injuries, against non-NFL defenses. Hummmmm...
Now for the Rams offensive line!
The party line put out by Rams' HQ goes a little something like this: Hey guys, the Ram O-Line is not that bad. We were just decimated by injuries last season. We improved dramatically last year. According to some obscure index some guru keeps, we actually have the No. 12 ranked line in league in terms of pass protection. The different between No. 12 and No. 1 is the quarterback. When all of our guys come back healthy this year, you'll see that everything will turn out fine.
Balls! Bollocks! Rubbish! Drive! Poppycock! Blarney! The party line is absolutely and completely wrong. I mean 100 percent wrong with a 100 percent chance of being 100 percent wrong and 0 percent chance of being even 1 percent right. I mean they are dead wrong and not even remotely close to being accurate.
To prove my case, let's look at the Rams' offensive line piece by piece. At the start of the 2009 season, the Rams offensive line consisted of the following starters:
- Alex Barron Left tackle: Now this is a serious screw up. When he's not missing his blocks completely, he jumps early, jumps late, misses the snap count either way, and holds often. Our offense has been operating out of a hole for the past five years because of this guy. He is personally responsible for many of Marc Bulger's injuries. Right now the Rams have dangled him as trade bait, saying we will accept a second rounder for him. Preposterous! If Albert Haynesworth is worth only a third, and Santonio Holmes a fifth, Alex Barron will have to be released. As it stands now it is not likely he will return as the Rams starting LT in 2010. Jason Smith seems set to take over that spot.
- Jacob Bell Left Guard. Jacob is an itty-bitty-teenie-weenie guard who looks nothing like the 6-4 305 pounds he was allegedly measured at during the 2004 combine. We signed him as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans for the princely sum of $36 million. He tore his hamstring against those same Titans last year, suffering a season ending injury. Mind you, that is a tear folks, not a pull. Jacob never had much drive in his little legs to begin with. Do you think he will have more or less after suffering a serious injury like a hamstring tear? Are you ready for the punchline? We signed Jacob in the same year Alan Faneca entered the free agency market. We could have gotten Faneca.
- Jason Brown Center. Now this is a quality starter. Jason got banged around last season, but he played well, and through a lot of pain. I am convinced that he is solid, in accordance with his Pro-Bowl billing.
- Ritchie Icognito, Right Guard. One of the greatest cases of 'Roid Rage I have ever witnessed. This guy committed one unsportsmanlike personal foul after another. He was fined repeatedly by the league and the Rams before being cut for disciplinary reasons towards the end of last season. He had a knack for taunting officials before game winning field goals, and he had one hell of a straight right punch. Whenever Barron failed to put us in a hole with a penalty, Icognito picked up the slack.
- Jason Smith, Right Tackle. The No. 2 overall pick in last years NFL Draft. We played some head games with Jason last season, and he got hurt a few times, but he convinced me that he is a solid dude in progress. I believe he has the minerals to be a quality Left or Right tackle
So there you have it ladies and germs, the Rams have exactly two quality starters on their five man offensive line. Those two men are Jason Smith and Jason Brown. Only three men will be returning from last season's line. Jacob Bell is the other. Icognito is now in Miami. Barron probably will not return. Let's hope he doesn't. The way I see it, we are three men short of a solid offensive line.
So would any Ram shill care to explain to me how the party line makes any sense at all? They say "when everyone returns health..." Everyone is not returning, and we know that for a fact. The Rams' O-Line will not lineup as it was constituted in 2009, and of this we can be sure.
You may claim that cutting Icognito was addition by subtraction, and I am sympathetic to that argument, but who will replace him? A bum off the highway? You may claim that releasing Barron is addition by subtraction, and putting Smith at the LT is a profound upgrade. Granted, but who will play the Right Tackle? A bum off the highway? Perhaps we can get Jackie Slater to come back for just one more season?
The Rams offensive line is a point of critical weakness, it is not a strength. Anyone who says that the Rams line is a strength-point for the team is a pure poppycock vendor. Said individual either has not evaluated the situation, or is a company shill, one or the other. In either case, said individual is factually incorrect.
So what are we doing about the problem? Well, we are not admitting that we have a problem. That's what we are doing.
Are we going to sign Flozell Adams? We don't have a problem. Why do we want to sign that old guy?
Are we going to sign Bobby Williams, guard of the Bengals? We don't have a problem. Why sign a guy we never even heard of?
Are we going to use the No. 33 pick to select an offensive lineman? We don't have a problem there. We need to get Sam a receiver.
Ah yes! This brings us to the receiver situation! Let's talk about the Rams receivers.
At the dawn of 2009, the Rams had two starting receivers on the roster: Donnie Avery and Laurent Robbinson. Both have speed, running 4.31 and 4.38 respectively.
Donnie is a short guy at 5-11, and 184. Donnie rode the roller coaster last season. He took at least two steps back and possibly two forward throughout the season. His progress is uncertain at this point. I believe he is destined to be a No. 2 type receiver behind a player who is not yet on our roster.
Laurent is average in height at 6-2. Shockingly enough, Laurent seemed to be the better of the two receivers at the start of last season. This was until he fracured his fibula on September 27th against Green Bay. He was on injured reserve for the rest of the season. We hope he returns, and we hope he is as strong as he was before the injury, but we can't count on it. Can he be a No. 1 receiver? At this point, I have to say I doubt it.
So what was our response to this medocre receiver corp? Did we run right out and make a deal for Bradon Marshall, one of the top 3 receivers in this league? Nope. Perhaps we will select Golden Tate.
There is much more. I could go into the problems we have with our terrible offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmer, and our fatuous attempt to implement the WCO. We could discuss the mis-match between a Spread QB and the WCO system, but I won't at this time. We could discuss how the Rams might fire Shurmer and hire a Spread genius like Mike Leach, just to make Sam comfortable and give us a prayer of scoring 20 points, but there is no point. We seem hung up on Shurmer.
Before the team destroys the next five years of franchise history, I ask the executives at headquarters to seriously sit back and ask yourself what chance of success Bradford has with this team constituted in this fashion. It is a total mis-match situation. It will all end in tears if it goes down this way, and the biggest cause will be the organization's denial of our problems on the offensive line.
At this point I am more pesimistic than I have been in some time. I am convinced that our executives have become totally corrupted by the NFL Front Office, which is a PR firm that does marketing according to the Hollywood Star System . Right now that PR firm on Park Ave in New York City is pissed at the Rams' front office, because we do not have a face of the franchise . We make it very hard for them to market our team.
They are pushing us to make this selection. Right now the NFL Network is singing a nonsense song which goes a little like this: The Rams need a quarterback to give their team hope, and re-energize the fan base. How stupid! How hopeful or re-energized do you think the team and fans will be when Sam Bradford suffers a season-ending injury in Week Three of the 2010 season? How hopeful and re-energized will we be if we keep Sam on the bench throughout 2010?
Stupid argument! Absolutely stupid. We're headed in the wrong direction folks. We're going to make a big mistake. I hope I am wrong, but I seriously doubt it.
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