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Thursday, September 19, 2013
Rams' protection streak in perspective

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Two weeks into the season, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is the only quarterback in the league who has yet to be dropped for a sack.

Dating to last season, the Rams offensive line hasn't allowed a sack in four straight games, a streak unmatched by any previous line all the way back to 1973. The streak has reached 17 quarters without allowing a sack, rendering the days of Bradford as target practice a (somewhat) distant memory.

It's no coincidence that Bradford is off to the best start of his career statistically given the protection he's been given in the first two weeks. Bradford has registered 96 dropbacks (attempts, sacks and scrambles minus spikes) in the opening games, tied for sixth most in the league. The zero sacks obviously yield a sack rate of 0.0 percent, best in the league.

Among starting quarterbacks, Bradford ranks 11th in terms of average time in the pocket at 2.70 seconds per drop back and 15th in the league at 3.50 seconds in average time before delivering a pass.

Although it's a small sample size, Bradford's sack rate so far is a drastic improvement on his first three years in the league. Others around the league are taking notice not only of the line's improved play but of Bradford's ability to see things and get the ball out in a timely manner.

“He just does such a good job seeing what the defense is doing," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "If there is a guy who’s pressuring him one way or another whether it’s through a pressure or just defeating a guy up front, he just has a real good feel for that happening, getting the ball out of his hand. Typically, they give him some pretty good quick options where he can get the ball out but he just has a good sense. We’ve just got to keep trying to pressure him and affect him a lot of different ways.”

Perhaps that's a product of having more comfort in the offense in his second year in the system. It also can't hurt to have an increased trust in a line that has made strides since his first three seasons.

While again noting the small sample size, the Rams' sack rate allowed through two games in 2012 was a sack on 8.8 percent of drop backs, 27th in the league. In 2011, the Rams were 21st in the league, allowing a sack on 7.2 percent of drop backs.

Clearly, the Rams have made protecting Bradford a priority since the arrival of coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. They spent big bucks to sign center Scott Wells in 2012 and left tackle Jake Long this year. So far, it's hard to argue with the results.