It’s been eight years without tasting postseason action for the St. Louis Rams and 2012 will in all likelihood be their ninth consecutive such season. Despite that fact, the team still has an attainable goal in sight with just the final two weeks remaining on the schedule; finish above .500.
Earlier in the year, the Rams were above the .500 mark for the first time in 93 games which was good (or bad) enough for the third worst such streak of ineptitude which stretched from 2006 to this year.
The primary reason why this team has had a bad taste in its mouth for such a long period is their inability to keep quarterback Sam Bradford upright. This past Sunday made for the 30th straight game that the former number one overall pick has been sacked. The four times Bradford went down this past Sunday brought his season total to 35 which makes him the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL tied with the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler.
When asked about his less than flattering streak, Bradford responded with a hint of sarcasm saying: “Actually, I didn’t know that. That’s great.” Sacks have simply become commonplace for Bradford during his three-year career thus far as there has only been one start during his time with the Rams that he hasn’t been sacked.
Bradford added more commentary on the idea of not hitting the turf repeatedly saying:
“If you don’t sacked get in a game, that obviously meant that the protection was good, the ball got out, guys on the outside won. It’s a team effort to eliminate sacks. That’s something we work towards each week. If we could play these next two games without sacks, it would really be awesome.”
It would be totally awesome indeed given the astounding numbers that have been compiled thus far during Bradford’s career. In his 40 career starts, Bradford has been sacked 105 times. He is not quite to David Carr territory with the Houston Texans where their number one overall pick was sacked 76 times in his rookie season alone, but there is no doubt that constant pressure wears on a quarterback’s psyche.
When continuously forced to evade pressure, footwork can disintegrate and sometimes that timer that people always talk about in a signal caller’s head can get sped up a bit. The Rams know that they need to better protect Bradford and obviously a consistent running game can help to provide that protection as well. If defensive linemen have to be alert for both the run and the pass, they tend to stay at home a bit longer and have less chance of getting to the quarterback.
The Rams offensive line is certainly a work in progress, but they have some good pieces in place for the future. Using a few more draft picks this spring on promising linemen will only further insulate Bradford in the years to come. Soon the Rams won’t be talking about just finishing above .500 as a goal, but making the playoffs and get deep into January.
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