The Mike Karney Factor (Week 2)

One game is a small sample size. Two consecutive games might be a trend. According to Mike Sando’s latest post on ESPN, the Rams averaged only 1.5 yards per carry with Karney in as a lead blocker in Week 2… and 8.6 y/c from a single-back set.

This brings up an interesting bit of Rams history, as John Robinson was one of the progenitors of using the single-back set in the NFL, clearing the way for Eric Dickerson to set all kinds of rushing records. It has been the primary look for the Rams in many years since. Oh, and Dickerson just happens to be one of Steven Jackson’s idols. Is this switch to a blocking-back set going to take hold for Pat Shurmur?

We first talked about this in a Weekend Reading look back on a 1983 article by the legendary Paul Zimmerman, titled “The Run Also Rises.”

Getting back to Sando’s article, he condemns the Rams’ O-line early, and justifiably so as they have had extremely poor first quarters in both games:

  • The offensive line struggled. Jackson’s 58-yard run on the Rams’ 16th offensive play came out of nowhere. My notes for the Rams’ 15 previous plays included these observations: “Richie Incognito got beat and that blew up the play. … Alex Barron blatantly holds Andre Carter and gets away with it, but Phillip Daniels crushes Marc Bulger. … Jason Brown injures MCL. … Barron holds Carter from behind and replays show he grabbed Carter by the collar, but no call. … Jason Smith misses Daniels off the ball. … Barron whiffs on Carter, who lined up way outside but still beat Barron with an inside move. … Line has no answer when Rocky McIntosh blitzes. … Play had no chance, too much pressure.”

However, he does admit that the line synced up and started to play better in the second half. Ironically, this came after the injuries to both Jason Brown (who returned to the game and to practice this week) and Jason Smith (who didn’t).

This showcases a commodity that has been all too rare in St Louis — depth on the offensive line. Adding to that depth this week is the return of John Greco from a sprained wrist. Still, though, the Karney factor bears watching against the run-porous Packers’ defensive front.