Tuesday trends: Rams’ sacks historically bad

The St. Louis Rams have been at or near the top of the sacks leaderboard the last two years. This year, they are the worst in NFL history through the first five games (they already had their bye). (Photo: Robert Quinn/Getty)

The Monday Night Football game with the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers put a bad trend under the spotlight for the Rams. The Rams have become suddenly sad with the sacks.

Last year, the Rams were third in the league with 53 sacks, one of only three teams with 50 or more sacks.

In 2012, the Rams tied for the league lead with 52 sacks.

This year, where have all their sacks gone? The Rams are dead last in the league with one lonely sack. The next worst team is the Oakland Raiders with five, while the Detroit Lions lead the NFL with 20 after getting eight of those Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Last year, Robert Quinn was a half sack shy of the league lead with 19. This year? Nada. Rookie Aaron Donald has the Rams’ only sack of the season, in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No other team has had fewer than two sacks in its first five games of a season since the NFL began tallying sacks in 1963, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Last year, the Cleveland Browns, under then-offensive coordinator Norv Turner, were 30th in the league with 21.8 rushing attempts per game and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. That’s changing in a big way this year.

Under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan this year, the Browns are second in the league with 33 attempts per game and averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Jim Brown should be proud.

DeMarco Murray has 785 yards on 159 carries. Both of those are amazing when put into context of next best.

Can he keep it up? His 159 rushing attempts are 43 more than the next closest back, LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles. For Murray, that’s 26.5 carries per game, five more per game than McCoy. Not surprisingly, he’s also leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns (six) and first downs (41) – 15 more than second-place Rashad Jennings. But there is one stat that Murray doesn’t want to be leading and does: fumbles, with three.

The Cowboys show no signs of easing up on him, either. He’s had 30 carries in the last two games. Ride him ’til he drops, ’Boys.

Of course scoring is up in the NFL. Isn’t it always as the rules trend toward favoring offenses?

The 4,250 points scored through six weeks is the most in NFL history. Not surprisingly, that breaks a record that isn’t that old. In 2012, the NFL had 4,233 point through Week 6. Last year set the scoring record for a full season, averaging 46.82 points per game. This year, the league is averaging 46.70 points per game, which would be second to last year if the averages continue.

The average points per game has gone up each year since 2010. It stinks to be a defensive coordinator these days.

Remember when 300-yard passing games were all the talk? Yeah, that was quaint.

The cliché is right: This is a passing league and Andrew Luck leads it. The former first overall pick is proving the Colts right. He leads the league with 1,987 passing yards and, more importantly, touchdowns (17).

As for 300-yard passing game, Luck is making it look easy. He has 300 yards or more in five of his six outings this year, including three 370-yard performances. Yes, all three were right at 370 yards – in the season opener against the Denver Broncos, two weeks later against the Jacksonville Jaguars and, again, two weeks later against the Houston Texans. So he should be due for 370 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 26.

But, like Murray, there is a stat Luck doesn’t want to lead: interceptions. In Luck’s case, he’s just one behind the leader, Kirk Cousins, who has eight.

Not all trends are positive. Despite a 4-2 record and being tied for the lead in the NFC North, there is one glaring, negative stat for the Lions. For some reason, their kickers can split the uprights very often.

Who would have guessed that Nate Freese would be their most accurate kicker so far this season after making only 3 of 7 in his three-game stint? Freese started the season 2 of 3, but after going 1 of 4 over a two-week span he was released.

Next came Alex Henery, who missed 80 percent of the field goals he attempted, making just one of five. Even Matt Prater struggled last week, his first time kicking this year, with the Lions. Prater missed 2 of 3 field goals. That’s more than Prater missed all of last year, when he was good on 25 of 26 for the Denver Broncos.

Last year, David Akers made 19 of 24 for the Lions.

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