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Bernie Bytes: Rams' Offense Still Futile
Bernie Bytes: Rams' offense still futile
59 minutes ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
While the Rams have shown modest improvement in some areas of their offense, they’re still crawling near the bottom of the league in points scored. That’s disappointing. No, I didn’t expect the Rams to start putting up points like New England, Green Bay, New Orleans or Denver. The Rams are still operating with talent limitations.
The Rams are averaging 17.1 points per game, which ranks 31st among the 32 teams. This is in line with their struggles in recent years; since 2007 the best the Rams have done is finish tied for 26th in 2010, when they averaged 18.1 yards per game.
This year’s average (17.1) is better than last season’s rate of 12.1 points per game. But it’s hardly satisfactory. And relative to the other NFL teams, the Rams are still lagging behind on offense. They’re 30th among the 32 teams with 11 touchdowns from scrimmage.
At that pace they’ll top last season’s total of 16 TDs from scrimmage, but that’s not the point. The 2011 Rams were so futile on offense, some improvement was inevitable in 2012. It was almost impossible to be as bad as they were a year ago.
I thought new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would make more of an impact. After all, QB Sam Bradford is in his third season. The offense has a better mix at running back. At least one impact WR (Chris Givens) has been added to the passing game. The offensive line isn’t good, but it isn’t horrible, either.
The Rams offense should be better than this. I’m not saying the unit should be elite; no one is holding the Rams to the “Greatest Show on Turf” standards. I think our expectations are grounded, and more than reasonable.
And this offense should be better than it is. The Rams’ offense is still short on playmakers. They don’t have enough players who make a difference. But they have added talent. In my opinion, the Rams are more capable, even though the coaching staff has gotten little out of two second-round draft picks, WR Brian Quick and RB Isaiah Pead.
Here are a few things that trouble me:
• This wasn’t a factor in New England’s 45-7 beatdown, but this team’s red-zone problems are still severe. The Rams ranked 28th in the league in red-zone TD percentage in 2011, and are only marginally better this year. I don’t see an excuse that would justify such a weak performance in the red zone.
• The Rams’ offense is undisciplined. They’ve committed 12 false start/offsides penalties, and that’s one of the highest totals in the league. They have three delay of game penalties; that’s tied for the third-highest total. There have been six holding penalties, which isn’t bad. But these are mistakes that are defined by penalty flags. Mental errors have ended too many opportunities.
• According to STATS LLC, the Rams offense has 58 negative plays in eight games; that’s the second-highest total in the league. There have been 32 negative-yards rushes, 20 sacks allowed, and six pass completions that lost yards.
• The Rams have done a solid job of holding onto the football; they rank tied for 6th in the NFL in the number of possessions (12) that last five minutes or longer. But this team has no quick-strike capability. You never see the Rams take the ball, and scoot into the end zone. They’ve had 87 possessions this season, with no quick-strike TDs. (Quick-strike drives are defined by STATS as four plays or fewer.) The Rams are methodical to a fault. And they are a paradox because …
• The rushing attack isn’t as robust as it should be. Having a methodical offense would work if the Rams could consistently muscle the ball on the ground, but that doesn’t happen. Head coach Jeff Fisher has always advocated a strong running game; over his 16 seasons as coach of the Titans only five NFL teams rushed for more yards. In Schottenheimer’s six years as offensive coordinator for the NY Jets, his offense led the league in rushing over the six-year period.
Well, the Rams don’t seem dedicated to the run. They rank 21st in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. They’re 18th in rushing. They have only two rushing TDs, which is tied for the league’s lowest total. The Rams have had 11 percent of their running plays stuffed; that puts them down in the rankings at No. 21. And yet they average 4.2 yards per rush, which is decent. So why don’t they run more? What frustrates me is the Rams have more versatility and options in the backfield than they’ve had in years. Steven Jackson is an effective power runner. Rookie Daryl Richardson complements the SJ power game with speed and elusiveness. Pead looked good late in Sunday’s game. He has talent. The offensive line blocks the run pretty well. The overall mediocrity of the running game is puzzling.
• Sam Bradford isn’t a closer. He isn’t a finisher. I will dish the numbers on this in tomorrow’s Bytes. Bradford has improved overall, but finishing drives continues to be a persistent problem. That isn’t all on Bradford, but he’s certainly a factor.
Again, I’ll break down some of the particulars tomorrow.
Thanks for reading…
Re: Bernie Bytes: Rams' Offense Still FutileThe Rams offense should be better than this.
I thought new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would make more of an impact. After all, QB Sam Bradford is in his third season. The offense has a better mix at running back. At least one impact WR (Chris Givens) has been added to the passing game. The offensive line isn’t good, but it isn’t horrible, eitherr.
Let hope we see an improvement in the second half when we get the O line back.
Re: Bernie Bytes: Rams' Offense Still Futile
Does this guy even watch games?This space for rent...
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