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Thread: O-Line Dance Continues
O-Line Dance Continues
Thursday, October 25, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
For the sixth time in eight games, the Rams will start a different combination along the offense line this Sunday against Cleveland.
As injuries and other various maladies have plagued the front five for the Rams, the line is searching for something, anything resembling the continuity required to keep quarterback Marc Bulger upright and open holes for running back Steven Jackson.
“We have been through a ton of o-linemen around here,” Jackson said. “At the end of last year we continued to play merry-go-round with that. We do need to find some stability there, but I can’t dwell on it. Once the ball’s in my hands, I can’t tell the defense, ‘Slow down, these guys don’t know what they’re doing.’ We’re just going to go out there with confidence. I’m going to let them know no matter who’s in front of me or who’s blocking, I trust them to get the job done.”
But it can be hard to have that trust when many times, you don’t even know who is lining up in front of you. For the record, the Rams will start Alex Barron at left tackle, Milford Brown at left guard, Andy McCollum at center, Richie Incognito at right guard and Brandon Gorin at right tackle.
Of that group, only Incognito is at the position he was listed at as the starter on the preseason depth chart. Gorin wasn’t even on the roster when the season began and Brown was added during camp and made the team.
The good news, though, is it appears the Rams are finally able to at least use their linemen at the positions they are most comfortable. Gorin is a natural tackle, Brown is a natural guard and McCollum’s main position is center. That could help a line that had one of its worst performances last week against Seattle when it allowed seven sacks and Bulger was consistently under pressure.
“We are going to do our best to put them in a position where they are most comfortable with certain protections and run schemes,” coach Scott Linehan said. “We can’t be doing much new, it’s got to be things that are common with them and even in the situation with the new player that doesn’t even really know the system, you just have to be able to match things up and do the best you can. There really is no choice in the matter. I think it’s not a great situation but we are going to do the best we can.”
To that end, the Rams are doing everything they can to keep it simple for the offensive line this week. Gorin has only been on the roster since Sept. 12. Barron has only been playing left tackle since about the same time, Incognito didn’t return from injury until Oct. 7, Brown has been playing right tackle and McCollum has been working at left guard.
The past two weeks, the Rams started the same group on the offensive line for the first time in consecutive weeks all season. Still, it wasn’t enough to give Bulger time and allow the offense to hum.
This week, the Rams are scaling back the playbook and the game plan even more to ensure that the line at least has a fighting chance of being on the same page against the Browns.
“They’re really not complicated right now,” Bulger said. “It’s scat protection and base protection and jet. Everyone in the NFL runs it, everyone in college runs it and when you’re not executing simple blocking schemes, you can’t dummy it down anymore. They’re term protections, they’re zone, we have some man and I think we’re just getting beat right now in some instances and other instances it’s just some mental mistakes. Defenses see some of the mistakes we’re making and they’re just going to keep attacking that.”
For instance, last week the Seahawks recognized the weaknesses in protection and ran a number of stunts and blitzed safeties and linebackers on a regular basis. The result, obviously, was Bulger taking another beating.
“When you have a different line every week, they don’t have that [flow],” Bulger said. “If the tackles know they have help on the outside, that just comes from time and working together; defenses are going to exploit that.”
Clearly, the offensive line is the group most affected by injuries this season as evidenced by the lack of depth at the position heading into this week. On the depth chart, there are multiple positions where no backup exists.
Tackle Rob Pettiti and center Nick Leckey are the only available backups. Pettiti signed Wednesday and Leckey was added on Oct. 6. In other words, more injuries could be the worst thing to happen this week.
“It’s not the greatest scenario moving these guys around and having different lineups but we really have no choice but try to get the best five out there,” Linehan said.
Center Brett Romberg, who played through a sprained ankle suffered a sprain in his other ankle against the Seahawks and is out this week. He and Barron were the last of the original intended starters.
The good news is that McCollum is a more than capable backup and the job of making calls at the line falls in his hands. If you had to choose anyone on the line to ensure that all five cogs were on the same page and working together, McCollum would be the man.
It’s a job he fully embraces and he believes with a week of working together, the line can do what it takes to help the offense explode against Cleveland’s league worst defense and, more important, get the Rams their first victory.
“We are used to (the injuries) by now and we have to make due with what we got,” McCollum said. “The guys we have got here are the guys we are going to play on Sunday and we are going to prepare this week like we have all year – hopefully better than we have all year as a matter of fact. We haven’t prepared well enough and I think we are going to pick it up this week.”
Re: O-Line Dance Continues
Always nice to hear that we have 7 total offensive lineman for the game. Maybe we will have to get BigRedMan to play!
Re: O-Line Dance Continues
Avenger is ahead of bennett and hagans on the qb depth chart. We cant afford to risk him on the offensive line.
rammng speed to all
Re: O-Line Dance ContinuesThis week, the Rams are scaling back the playbook and the game plan even more“They’re really not complicated right now,” Bulger said. “It’s scat protection and base protection and jet. Everyone in the NFL runs it, everyone in college runs it and when you’re not executing simple blocking schemes, you can’t dummy it down anymore. They’re term protections, they’re zone, we have some man and I think we’re just getting beat right now in some instances and other instances it’s just some mental mistakes. Defenses see some of the mistakes we’re making and they’re just going to keep attacking that.”
"How can 5 college educated men be this stupid?!?! We pulled this blocking scheme straight off a 3rd grade playground, and they STILL can't keep me vertical.
I don't know who the crap this BigRedMan is, but get him in here. Yes, he's a cross-dresser, but surely he's smart enough to understand basic blocking!"
....or something like that."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
Re: O-Line Dance Continues
Hey, BTW, I play FB (and LB): 6-1, 255. Pick me! Pick me!
Great to have McCollum in there manning the C position. Romberg has done well but can barely walk right now and that makes Andy's leadership essential.
-10-26-2007 #8Registered User
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Re: O-Line Dance Continues
At least we have 4 tight ends.
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