The Rams allowed the most sacks in the league last year, 55, in large part because of injuries to both of their starting tackles, Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith. The Rams didn’t add another starter in the offseason because they were hoping that Smith and Saffold, both young, would bounce back. However, the Rams may be regretting that as Smith has struggled this offseason.
Smith has been benched for Barry Richardson, an offseason acquisition. Richardson was only signed to be a backup, however, after he struggled mightily with the Chiefs as their starting right tackle last season. He graded out as ProFootballFocus’ 2nd worst rated offensive tackle, allowing 8 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 36 quarterback pressures, while committing 9 penalties. He also was ProFootballFocus’ worst rated offensive tackle in run blocking, as the Chiefs averaged just 2.6 YPC running off right tackle last season.
Even if Richardson wins the starting job, the 2009 2nd overall pick won’t be cut because he’s owed a guaranteed 4 million dollars this season, after restructuring his contract down from 10 million earlier this offseason. Either way, right tackle figures to be a liability for the Rams. Rodger Saffold should be able to bounce back on the left side because, before his injury plagued 2011 season, he allowed just 3 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and 27 quarterback pressures as a mere 2nd round rookie in 2010, when they ranked 18th in pass blocking efficiency as a team.
They also have proven veterans at right guard and center in Harvey Dahl and Scott Wells. Left guard and right tackle will be liabilities, but with a new quicker throw offense being implemented, the Rams should give up significantly fewer sacks than they did last season. They actually ranked 24th in pass blocking efficiency, which takes into account quarterback hits and quarterback pressures, last season, so they weren’t quite as bad as their 55 sacks would have suggested.
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