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    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
    Monday, September 20, 2010


    The day-after Rams blog will be be a staple on the site on Mondays during the NFL season, but I need a title for the thing. Peter King already has "Monday Morning Quarterback," for his wildly popular SI.com epic.

    I'll go with "Monday Morning Backup QB" for now.

    Let's begin ...

    Enough, already, with the emphasis on how the Rams beat themselves with penalties and mistakes. We know that. We saw it. Let's get to the most important business, shall we?

    Through two games, this is obvious: the Rams coaching staff is losing the tactical matchup in the second half. We've seen the Rams come out decently, even impressively, in the first half of their two games. We've seen Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford play his best in the first half.

    And then comes that time when coaching staffs look at their game plan, and see what worked, and what didn't work. And then they make adjustments. That's when the coaching part kicks in. That's when the game moves into another realm, and coaching becomes a hugely important factor in close contests.

    And in the first two games, the Rams' coaches simply do not seem to have many if any real answers when it is time to counter an opponent's strategy. Frankly, it's glaring. We've seen the coaches on the opposite sideline alter the initial plan and the outperform the Rams in the second half.

    I realize that the Rams are a work in progress with their talent base, and that the roster is precariously thin, and that the their experience level is a negative. We know the shortage of playmakers on offense is acute. We have all discussed this a hundred times already. We know that it isn't a fair fight in terms of personnel.

    But the coaches are a factor, too.

    And Rams coaches apparently struggle to make adjustments and come up with something new and different to counter the opponents' strategy.

    The numbers tell the story:

    -- Rams offense in the first half: 329 yards, 17-13 points advantage, 1 turnover, 4.6 yards per rush, 17 first downs.

    -- Rams offense in the second half: 206 yards, outscored 20-10, 4 turnovers, 2.2 yards per rush, 13 first downs.

    -- Sam Bradford, first half: 25 of 37 (67.6%), 6.97 yards per attempt, two TD passes, one INT, 94.2 passer rating.

    -- Sam Bradford, second half: 21-43 (48.8%), 3.77 yards per attempt, 1 TD, 3 INT, 37.2 rating.

    --Steven Jackson, first half: 22 carries, 114 yards, 5.2 avg.

    --Steven Jackson, second half: 19 carries, 42 yards, 2.2 avg.

    -- Rams defense, first half: 308 yards allowed, 17 first downs allowed, 13 points allowed.

    -- Rams defense, second half: 474 yards allowed, 22 first downs allowed, 20 points allowed.

    -- Rams defense, first half: 5.53 yards per passing attempt.

    -- Rams defense, second half: 8.14 yards per passing attempt.

    The Rams are 0-2 in part because Steve Spagnuolo and his staff have lost the coaching matchup against Arizona and Oakland. And when you are losing coaching battles to Oakland's Tom Cable ... my goodess.

    READING TIME, 5 MINUTES:

    * I get it; when the Rams run the ball with Jackson, they usually see 8 defenders in the box. But there are two questions: (1) is Jackson the only back in NFL history to run against a stacked box? No. (2) what can be done to counter the strategy? I'm not sure, because I'm not Bill Walsh, but I do know this: having Bradford flip a bunch of 5-yard passes isn't going to back the linebackers and safeties away from the line of scrimmage.

    * Even with the obvious limitations that the Rams are dealing with on offense -- they do not have one receiver who can stretch and threaten a defense -- you still have to try some stuff, right? Don't you have to at least try to hit on some downfield throws? If for no other reason, you must do it to let the defense know that you haven't completely given up on the idea of, well, the modern forward pass. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur does not have much to work with; there's little speed outside. But he can't just cross out pages of his playbook because of it.

    * Even with the limitations, where is the creativity? The Rams aren't running many crossing patterns or dig routes with their receivers. Why? Why don't they stack receivers and hope to confuse the defense or create missteps? Why not experiment with a wildcat formation? Why not spread the field and run Jackson? Where are some different personnel groupings and use of motion? Why not go with some overloads in the formation? Why not go "heavy" with extra blockers and try to pound the ball? The Rams are too bland. They make it too easy for the defense.

    * Here are some of the situations Bradford encountered in the Oakland game, after the Rams scored their first-half TD: 2nd and 20, 2nd and 11, 2nd and 10, 2nd and 9, 2nd and 10, 2nd and 10, 3rd and 7, 3rd and 21, 3rd and 8.

    * Facing so many disadvantageous down-and-distance situations, Bradford clearly will be up against it. It won't be easy for Bradford to convert third downs, especially with this group of receivers. Through two games, Bradford is 12 of 25 on third downs for 161 yards. At Oakland, he was 2 for 7 on third down, with two sacks.

    * Two of the roughing/passer penalties against the Rams were iffy;a few years ago the flags on O.J. Atogwe and Fred Robbins never would have been thrown. But the league has changed the rules. The league puts pressure on officials to protect the quarterback. The league has given an edict to the officials, and they are cracking down on it. So defensive players have to be aware of this and play accordingly. That's just the way it is.

    * Even with some pass protection issues early, the Rams offensive line was tenacious in the first half, at least until late in the half. But I didn't see that same desire to get after it in the second half. A group that should be a team strength simply wasn't physical enough after halftime. There are no excuses for that. Once again we'll just go ahead and declare that O-line coach Steve Loney is going to have to prove that he can bring these guys along.

    * OT Jason Smith has got to play better than this. He's better than this, right? Anyone? We hope? The 2nd overall pick in the draft must be a dominant player. A guy with his size and talent shouldn't be getting beaten around the edge as much as Smith was in Oakland.

    * If WR Brandon Gibson can't get a uniform handed to him on game day with this group of receivers, it means one of two things: (1) the offensive coaches are clueless; (2) Gibson needs to consider another line of work. For now, I'll go with door No. 1.

    *I was surprised to see so many Rams fans (and even some media) dogging the Rams defense Sunday during the game. What's up with that? I know: Penalties, bad; dropped INTs, bad. But these guys were on the the field for much of thee afternoon, or so it seemed. After taking a 7-0 lead early the second quarter, the Rams offense ran 29 plays the rest of the way. The Raiders ran 66. In the second half, the Raiders had a 47-19 edge in plays. Yes, I know it's up to the Rams defense to get the Raiders off the field. But this isn't s turdy defense. This isn't the Baltimore or NY Jets defense. When the Rams D has to play so much football, does anyone really believe the unit won't wear down? Do you really think they'll hold up under the strain of having to be on the field for so many plays? They aren't that good to overcome something like that. Bottom line: the Rams gave up one TD Sunday. And after two weeks, they've given up 16.5 points per game. That's tied for 12th in the NFL. This group can do better, yes. But to single them out and beat on them is pretty absurd.

    * Kansas City is 2-0. Tampa Bay is 2-0. The Rams are 0-2 and have lost 44 of their last 50 games. They are 1-27 since Oct. 26, 2008.

    It's time to win some games. Period.

    Thanks for reading ...

    -Bernie


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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Right on Bernie! Failure to adjust to the opponents tactics in the second half of the games has absolutely killed us!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    I'm officially frightened... I agreed with most of what he said!
    I believe!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Ha! Bernie's on a roll ... that's two in a row!
    If a team won their division seven straight times, that would be a NFL record. Now add on that team did it with seven different QB's in seven straight years,that record is unbeatable. To do that feat, you must of had a great Defense. Jack Youngblood was the captain of that defense.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Yeah, you're all right guys, this is two in a row indeed for Bernie Downer. The guy is brutally honest sometimes, but honestly I dont care anymore. Its the truth and its what we are until we play ourselves out of it. The coaching staff, for whatever reasons, are really not creative; its just bland offense and the defense getting gashed again.

    This losing really has to stop or at least curb, because I cannot take this much longer. It just isnt easy to feel good about football nowadays, at least for me, because my team isnt winning. Can you imagine feeling excited about another exciting football game knowing your team wants no part of any of those other teams?

    At this rate, you have to wonder where the wins come on this schedule. The only team I can see us beating is the Whiners once maybe, if that. I just dont see who we are going to beat because apparently we are just not good enough to beat anybody and everyone picks against us and predicts us to lose and dogs us. Its almost as if they KNOW we are going to lose, 4 SURE!!! " Oh, the Rams at Raiders" This is the toilet bowl, but the RAIDERS are a better team.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    I'm officially frightened... I agreed with most of what he said!
    Ditto, Teke. Maybe facts is a good way for BM to go from now on.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    I'm officially frightened... I agreed with most of what he said!
    Me too. I think that means the world is about to end.

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    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    In a sea of scary statistics, here's the worst of all as stated in the article:

    The Rams are 1-27 since Oct. of '08.

    Any fan apathy, outrage, negativity or despondency is completely justified.

  9. #9
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    In a sea of scary statistics, here's the worst of all as stated in the article:

    The Rams are 1-27 since Oct. of '08.

    Any fan apathy, outrage, negativity or despondency is completely justified.
    Thank God for Motown.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  10. #10
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    In a sea of scary statistics, here's the worst of all as stated in the article:

    The Rams are 1-27 since Oct. of '08.

    Any fan apathy, outrage, negativity or despondency is completely justified.
    I have no problem with fans feeling outrage and anger towards the Rams for giving us an unacceptable product out on the field these last three years, but this was coming for a long time. We're paying now for the failed front office that couldn't draft its way out of a paper bag through most of the 2000's.

    What I have a problem with is fan outrage and negativity on players that are not the problem and saying that we're the same Rams that we've seen the last few years. Last year was the painful rip the bandaid off year as we purged the roster. We lost badly and you couldn't change even a handful of plays and come up with a win for us.

    This year so far, in my mind, we're two plays away from being 2-0. Both of the happen to be in the kicking game. We don't let Adrian Wilson through the line to block our early FG last week and then we're in prime position to kick the winning FG late in the 4th as opposed to leading to Sam's last 2 INT's. This week, Brown just missed apparently. It happens. If he didn't, the game would have been different. There's plenty of other plays that we could change as well that might have led to wins for us as well.

    This excites me because we're actually in games right until the end, we're only a play or two away from wins, and we're doing it with a rookie quarterback. Imagine what we'll be able to do when he actually adapts to the speed of the NFL and we get him a better receiving corps(Devaney, I'm looking to you. Clayton is a good start, but is just that... a start. And V-Jax is not the answer.)!

    The bright future is coming, but the fans need to be patient. We're not a super talented team that couldn't win one year and can do a one year turnaround. We're a depleted franchise that needs to rebuild. I see us very much as the 1998 Colts team, and you know how well they've worked out since.
    I believe!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    * I get it; when the Rams run the ball with Jackson, they usually see 8 defenders in the box. But there are two questions: (1) is Jackson the only back in NFL history to run against a stacked box? No. (2) what can be done to counter the strategy? I'm not sure, because I'm not Bill Walsh, but I do know this: having Bradford flip a bunch of 5-yard passes isn't going to back the linebackers and safeties away from the line of scrimmage.

    * Even with the obvious limitations that the Rams are dealing with on offense -- they do not have one receiver who can stretch and threaten a defense -- you still have to try some stuff, right? Don't you have to at least try to hit on some downfield throws? If for no other reason, you must do it to let the defense know that you haven't completely given up on the idea of, well, the modern forward pass. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur does not have much to work with; there's little speed outside. But he can't just cross out pages of his playbook because of it.

    * Even with the limitations, where is the creativity? The Rams aren't running many crossing patterns or dig routes with their receivers. Why? Why don't they stack receivers and hope to confuse the defense or create missteps? Why not experiment with a wildcat formation? Why not spread the field and run Jackson? Where are some different personnel groupings and use of motion? Why not go with some overloads in the formation? Why not go "heavy" with extra blockers and try to pound the ball? The Rams are too bland. They make it too easy for the defense.


    * If WR Brandon Gibson can't get a uniform handed to him on game day with this group of receivers, it means one of two things: (1) the offensive coaches are clueless; (2) Gibson needs to consider another line of work. For now, I'll go with door No. 1.

    *I was surprised to see so many Rams fans (and even some media) dogging the Rams defense Sunday during the game. What's up with that? I know: Penalties, bad; dropped INTs, bad. But these guys were on the the field for much of thee afternoon, or so it seemed. After taking a 7-0 lead early the second quarter, the Rams offense ran 29 plays the rest of the way. The Raiders ran 66. In the second half, the Raiders had a 47-19 edge in plays. Yes, I know it's up to the Rams defense to get the Raiders off the field. But this isn't s turdy defense. This isn't the Baltimore or NY Jets defense. When the Rams D has to play so much football, does anyone really believe the unit won't wear down? Do you really think they'll hold up under the strain of having to be on the field for so many plays? They aren't that good to overcome something like that. Bottom line: the Rams gave up one TD Sunday. And after two weeks, they've given up 16.5 points per game. That's tied for 12th in the NFL. This group can do better, yes. But to single them out and beat on them is pretty absurd.
    Well...
    1. Well when your TE & WR's can't beat coverage there isn't alot you can do.

    2. We did try downfield throws and the only WR who seems to be able to catch them atleast half of the time is Clayton...and he's just one man. Again the other WR's can't beat man or press coverage on a regular basis so that makes going downfield hard.

    3. I would love to see some diversity brought to the offense as well, but I am guessing that the OC wants to go easy w/ "50" ( I mean he's only 2 games into his career). I'm sure by mid-season we'll see more of the playbook, but right now he just needs to get use to the speed of the NFL.

    4. The whole Brandon Gibson thing has me puzzled, I can't figure out why he isn't on the field....I can only reason that he has pissed off someone & thus is in the perverbial 'dog house". Too bad though, I for one thinks he should start beside Clayton w/ Danny being in the slot (but that's just me).

    5. I agree the "D" is playing much better, but still looks a high school JV team at times which is what I believe has everyone frustrated. The consistancy just isn't there.

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by rNemesis View Post
    At this rate, you have to wonder where the wins come on this schedule. The only team I can see us beating is the Whiners once maybe, if that. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
    rNemesis

    You can scratch the Whiners off your list of potential victims for the Rams. That first game in Seattle was just an aberration; I expect them to easily win the NFC West (unfortunately) and in all probability sweep the Rams ..sigh

    Bottom Line: They are a much better team than we are now. And barring a a massive influx of injuries (for them) and talent (for us) I don't see this a-changin' anytime soon.


    WHAT SAY YE?

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morn ing Backup QB

    I think a lot of the stats uses to support his coaching factor argument are more to do with the lack of depth and individual mistakes like penalties and missed FGs.
    Still, it's disturbing to hear Spags say that he thought The Raiders didn't do much differently in the 2nd half, just that they did it a little better. A different QB, a shuffled OL, DL overloads to the Rams' right, quick passes underneath & to the outside. All different from the first half.

    Way too small a sample & the injuries piling up at key spots like CB and TE but I'm starting to get a little nervous about DeSpags. Diggs has been underwhelming so far. Darby & Gibson have barely been given a chance to contribute and Goldberg has been inadequate,imo. Time management issues (see the saints' last drive for an eg of how to effectively use timeouts in a 2 min drill,coach), halftime adjustment blindness; it's one thing not to have the players/execution needed to counter but to not see that they were there is disturbing. I'm even starting to wonder if Sam was ready to start. He's showing signs of either becoming gun-shy or the hits are affecting his accuracy,imo.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Honestly, I didn't think we would win our first two games any way. This team will figure it out if:

    Bartell pulls his head out and makes some plays. This guy has made my watch for a cut list.

    Stupid penalties that extend drives are killing this team. Until that stops, they won't win and THAT IS COACHING.

    Hate to say this, but they have to stick to the run more in the second half whether it's working or not. They haven't been behind to the panic point all year so why give up so early? I don't care if they run it six straight times with 3 and outs, I bet that 7th time is a big gainer.

    If you aren't going to play Gibson, cut the guy and bring someone in that can dress. Two inactives on this WR roster is unsettling.

    Other than that, I've been quite pleased. We have been in both games with chances to win. Just got to learn how.

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    jdh008 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    The 1-27 statistic hit me like a ton of bricks. I guess I knew that was the case, but to see it in writing like that was really tough. I feel sick...

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