After watching what the Seattle Seahawks did to Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers on Monday night, Rams coach Jeff Fisher had a creative solution to protecting QB Sam Bradford in Sunday’s game.
“I thought about starting (QB) Kellen Clemens, honestly,” Fisher said.
After allowing six sacks last week against the Chicago Bears, the Rams get a Seattle defense that sacked the notoriously mobile Rodgers eight times Monday night – in the first half. That defense ranks among the top five in most of the defensive categories in the NFL through the first three weeks. It’s also a large reason the Seahawks are 2-1 on the young season.
“We like our defense a lot,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We can play the run well and we had issues with our pass rush in the first two years we were here, and so we did address that. We addressed it with our No. 1 pick and we addressed it with (DE) Jason Jones as a pickup in free agency this year… We’re excited about where we’re going. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The pass rush has been headlined by DE Chris Clemons, DT Brandon Mebane and the first-round pick Carroll was referring to, DE Bruce Irvin. Clemons, who has registered 11 sacks in each of the last two seasons, has five already through three games in 2012. Clemons had four sacks and two forced fumbles in two games against the Rams last season.
The Rams offensive line, missing projected starters C Scott Wells and LT Rodger Saffold, struggled to contain the Bears front four in their 23-6 loss Sunday. The current group will have had a few weeks to practice together by the time Sunday rolls around, something G/C Robert Turner said goes a long way toward shoring up those protection issues.
“The longer you play together, the better you know each other and the more of an understanding you have of where guys are going to be,” Turner said. “Guys’ placement and spacing is different from player to player. And the longer you’re together, the more that kind of goes without saying and spacial awareness is there.”
Aside from the Bears pass rush, Rams receivers’ inability to get separation led to Bradford holding onto the ball too long on a few occasions. Avoiding coverage sacks is a focus for Bradford and the offense this week.
“Obviously, watching that, you just realize how talented they are on defense, how good they are up front,” Bradford said. “It just means that I’ve got to be able to get the ball out of my hands quick this week. If something’s not there, I can’t hold it. Probably be a little quicker in the progressions this week.”
Turner said the line has to do its part, too.
“I do know that no matter what it is, whether it’s coverage or whether it’s a guy getting beat, we’ve got to hold up in protection as long as Sam has the ball,” Turner said.
If they don’t, it may be Clemens they end up protecting before long anyway.