O-Line Made Strides Against Seattle

Posted Oct 1, 2012

Coming off a performance in which it allowed six sacks and facing a defense that registered eight sacks in that same week, Sunday’s matchup between the Rams patchwork offensive line and Seattle’s group of thoroughbreds had all the makings of a mismatch.

Gloom and doom predictions hit the Rams offensive line from all angles but a group that had just spend only its second full week of practice together made good on the additional time to build cohesion in coming up with a solid performance.

“I thought they did a great job,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “Considering the fact that we were moving people around and three different people were playing tackle last week and with all the things we had; they settled down. To keep those outside guys away from the quarterback like they did, I thought they did an outstanding job.”

While it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, it was pretty clearly an improvement from what happened in Chicago in week 3. All told, the Rams front five allowed quarterback Sam Bradford to be sacked just twice and be hit just three other times, according to unofficial pressbox statistics.

Particularly impressive was the work of tackles Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson on the edge against Seattle’s dynamic end duo of Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin. Clemons and Irvin combined for one tackle and no sacks.

Given another full week of practice to work together, center Robert Turner had expected the group to make strides against Seattle and was pleased with how the communication and chemistry was enhanced.

“I think it’s definitely better,” Turner said. “You battle stuff every week. Every team is different, every approach is different. The longer you stay together, the longer guys are there with each other, and you may not have to make certain calls because somebody knows you are going to be there. Yes, there are certain calls that we have to make week in and week out depending on protection, MIC points, things of that nature but every offense deals with that as well. It’s a little bit easier each week when you have got the same guys working together, they understand the scheme, they understand where their buddy is going to be and they trust each other.”

Assuming Hunter makes it through the short week on a bothersome knee, the Rams will have the same line start a game for the third week in a row, the type of continuity that is absolutely paramount in the NFL.

While the pass protection seemed to improve based on that continuity, there is still serious work to be done in opening holes in the run game. In the opening half, the Rams found ways to blow open room for the running backs as the Rams picked up 62 yards on 12 carries.

But some halftime adjustments by Seattle, which included shifting from an over front to an under front along with some other different looks limited the Rams to 15 carries for 13 yards in the second half.

That’s an area that must improve going forward.

“Some of it had to do with execution,” Turner said. “Some of it they made some adjustments…But really what it comes back to each week is us executing no matter what team it is or what front they throw at us. There is always going to be a game plan pressure, there’s always going to be game time sideline adjustments. It’s really a matter of us executing and picking those things up as they’re presented to us.”

All things considered, though, there was plenty for the Rams offensive line to be proud of for its better performance against a strong Seattle defense.

As another strong defense in Arizona waits in the wins on a short week of work, the Rams don’t have much time to stand around congratulating one another.

Before they know it, the likes of Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and Sam Acho will come calling and any goodwill the line built in the Seattle game could potentially be erased quickly.

“I think you take pride in it but again you have got to have a short memory both good and bad,” Turner said. “So last week is over, Seattle week is over. We’ll see them again sometime late in the year, I can’t honestly tell you when that is. All I know is that we’ve got Arizona this week and they’ve got a couple of pretty good players up there. They are a high pressure team, they give you plenty of looks so there is plenty of stuff for us to focus on.

“We can kind of sit there and enjoy the things we did on Sunday over a long weekend after we play the Cardinals. You’ll have time to reflect on the bye week and things of that nature so we’ve got plenty of stuff to keep us busy as far as game prep this week not to focus on (patting yourself on the back).”

BROCKERS DEBUT IN REVIEW: Rookie first-round pick Michael Brockers made his regular season debut against Seattle, starting at defensive tackle alongside Kendall Langford.

Brockers suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale against Baltimore and missed the Rams’ first three games. On only his second series of the games, Brockers appeared to re-injure the ankle and was helped off the field.

But Brockers got re-taped on the sideline and finished the game. In unofficial pressbox statistics, he did not register a tackle and the Rams weren’t particularly stout against the run.

Brockers, who has a reputation for being able to take on multiple blockers and allowing his teammates to run the ball against the run, did the best he could on a slightly gimpy ankle.

Fisher said Brockers went through the full practice Monday and he is of the belief that having a game under his belt should help the massive rookie tackle perform better than a slightly rusty debut.

“He played hard,” Fisher said. “He played like he’d been out for an extended period of time but most people do when you come off that injury for the first game back. But he didn’t have any issues with it. So this week he’ll be able to get better.”

SLOWING THE RUN: One area the Rams need to improve moving forward is an area they emphasized strongly in the offseason: stopping the run.

One week after a solid showing in Chicago against a power rushing attack, the Rams struggled against the powerful Seattle duo of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.

Lynch had a big day to the tune of 118 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown. Turbin pitched in six carries for 45 yards and Seattle averaged 5.3 yards per attempt on 34 tries.

Clearly, that’s not the number Fisher hoped to see out of his group, even if it was facing an elite running back such as Lynch.

“It was a combination of things,” Fisher said. “It was a combination of one, playing an outstanding back, two, missed tackles, three, there was a number of times where we had a player at the point of attack that was held and unable to get off the block. But he’s a good player. We made some adjustments. We get to see him again later in the year.”

INJURY REPORT: With about 25 hours between Sunday’s game and Monday’s practice, the Rams had little time to recover in time for a short, modified workout.

That left the Rams with a lengthier injury report than what a normal one might look like on Monday evening.

Defensive end Eugene Sims (head), receiver Brandon Gibson (knee), running back Steven Jackson (groin), tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) and Hunter (knee) did not practice.

Receiver Danny Amendola (ankle), safety Matt Daniels (hamstring), defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) and end William Hayes (knee) were limited participants.

Don’t let the long list fool you, though, as many of those were directly related to the short recovery time.

“Fortunately for us, we got through the game actually in really good shape injury-wise,” Fisher said. “The guys, they worked the soreness out and they’re ready to go. By Thursday night, they’re excited to be able to play.”