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Thread: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Bernie: Can feeble Rams fix running game?

    3 hours ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com

    Four games into the 16-game season, it's hard to imagine how the Rams could be any worse than they've been at rushing the football.

    This is the 76th NFL season of Cleveland-LA-STL Rams football.

    The 2013 Rams' average of 47.3 yards rushing per game would be the lowest in franchise history. Their average of 2.6 yards per carry would rank 74th among the 76 Rams' teams.

    The 2013 Rams have been stuffed for losses on runs 10 times. Their running backs have combined for 60 rushing attempts, and only three have produced 10 yards or more. (Earlier, because of a typo, I incorrectly gave the statistic of three runs of 4 or more yards. I apologize for the error.)

    The barely visible running game is a serious issue going forward.

    How can the Rams repair this major problem?

    1. It begins at the top, with coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. We already know that it's silly to ask for more creativity from Schottenheimer, so it will be up to Fisher and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau to get this thing going. The Rams can't run effectively until they make a commitment to the ground. They've attempted only 18 rushes per game, fewest in the NFL. And that would be the lowest average in franchise history. You can't improve the running game unless you make it more of a priority.

    No one is saying that the Rams should abandon the passing game and become hopelessly predictable in their offensive approach. But they clearly need more balance. The Rams have called runs on only 27 percent of their offensive snaps; even in the pass-crazy NFL there are 16 teams that are running the ball on more than 40 percent of the snaps. A more vigorous rushing attack would make the Rams less one-dimensional and probably alleviate the pressure on QB Sam Bradford. Fisher has to take charge; all signs indicate that he plans on doing just that beginning with Sunday's tussle with Jacksonville.

    2. Is there an NFL running back in the house? I don't see one, at least not yet. On one hand, the backs have had limited opportunities so it's probably unfair to dismiss them as non-factors. But at some point, we need to see something from Daryl Richardson, the de facto lead back. He got off to a quick start last season as a useful change of pace runner, but the league's defenses adjusted and Richardson isn't getting anywhere. In his last eight regular season games, Richardson has carried 58 times for 138 yards, an awful average of 2.4 yards per rush. And only two of his last 58 runs have gained 10 or more yards.

    3. In a related note, why not give a chance to another RB? Richardson was Fisher's choice to succeed Steven Jackson. How long does Fisher plan to stay with such glaringly unacceptable production? According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson ranks 41st among 43 backs in getting yards after contact. He's also ranked 35th in PFF's elusive rating. I'm not suggesting that Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead or Zac Stacy will remind anyone of, say, Lawrence McCutcheon. But it would be nonsensical to keep denying them an opportunity with Richardson being so unproductive.

    The Rams used the 50th overall pick of the 2012 draft on Pead, and he hasn't been given the chance to take the ball and run. What are they waiting for? The Rams traded up to choose Stacy in the 5th round of the 2013 draft ... why? If Pead and Stacy can't claim playing time in this backfield -- that's an alarming sign. It's not as if they're sitting behind Adrian Peterson here, OK? If the tentative Richardson becomes more decisive and aggressive and increases his production , fine. If he doesn't, then it will be Fisher's fault for refusing to make a change.

    4. The offensive line has to assert itself as more of a run-blocking force. According to Pro Football Focus, offensive tackles Joe Barksdale and Jake Long have graded out pretty well in their run blocking so far — but both can do better. Guards Harvey Dahl and Chris Williams are barely average in their PFF run-block ratings. And Scott Wells is the poorest-rated run-blocking center in the league. In 2010, Dahl was rated among the very best run-blocking NFL guards — which prompted the Rams to sign him away from Atlanta as a free agent. But Dahl's run blocking has steadily deteriorated in his three seasons here. Wells hasn't come close to playing up to the level of the team's investment in him. Williams is OK.

    It's fair to say that the Rams need to get a lot more run-blocking thump from their interior line. Boudreau has a well deserved rep as one of the league's best O-line coaches. Time for him to get this group going.

    5. Rams tight ends are terrible run blockers. According to Pro Football Focus, Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook rank 55th and 56th, respectively, among 58 NFL tight ends at run blocking. Cook was signed to a huge contract for what he could do as a receiver. But his run blocking is much worse than anticipated. Kendricks was an OK run blocker last season; I don't know why he's declined so dramatically. The Rams had one of the NFL's top-rated run-blocking tight ends in the league last season in Matthew Mulligan, but the Rams' front office let him walk as a free agent.

    Yes, the players involved in the running game have mostly been bad — and even very bad. But questionable personnel decisions and ineffectual coaching are obvious factors in the weak performance.

    Thanks for reading ...

    — Bernie
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  2. #2
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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    We already know that it's silly to ask for more creativity from Schottenheimer
    I hate to be such a scheme nihilist, but I don't think any change this offense makes will result in more points until Schotty is shown the door. Which sucks bigtime, as that means yet another OC to be learned by the offense.
    "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: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    I think Bernie is right- this is a multi-faceted problem that goes beyond just the running backs. To wit:

    1) The line needs to be better. We seem to always get these guys (Jason Brown, Jason Smith, jacob bell, Scott Wells, etc.) who appear draft/free agent worthy who don't do well here. Why?
    2) The absence of SJax shows us just how good he was at masking deficiencies in the line. Going into the season with a "running back by committee" approach was a mistake, in my opinion, as was thinking a guy like Richardson could carry the lion's share of the load. And that's not a second guess, that's a FIRST guess by me.
    3)Gotta' give others a shot. If guys like pead, Stacy, Cunningham, etc. can't produce against a team like Jacksonville, then they're not part of the solution here at the position.
    4)Tight end blocking is dreadful. They showed replays of several attempted "blocks" by Jared Cook in the SF game which blew up plays. Total piss poor effort which is inexcusable. Show some tenacity and block effectively, for chrissakes.
    5)Gotta have more balance. Can't give a guy 3 carries and expect to determine what he can do.

    This is where coaching comes into play. Fisher, Boudreau and company need to do what they've been paid handsomely to do. And the time is now.
    Last edited by NJ Ramsfan1; -10-03-2013 at 02:57 PM.
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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    According to Pro Football Focus
    It seems that every Bernie article cites this source. My view of PFF is well documented so I won't repeat it, but it does raise two questions:

    1. Given that PFF is a pay site, isn't Bernie undermining their business by republishing their "stats" and analyses every week?

    and

    2. Does Bernie do ANY of his own research and analysis anymore?

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    How can Bernie not mention the fact that DRich has turf toe? Kind of important when you look at his sudden drop off of production I would think.

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    How can Bernie not mention the fact that DRich has turf toe? Kind of important when you look at his sudden drop off of production I would think.
    Well, in Bernie's defense, PFF does not factor in player injuries, so he probably was unaware that DRich was injured.
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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    But if DRich is injured, Why is he out there? That would be primetime for one of the others to step up Or do these RB's not know when opportunity is slapping them in the face. Get your game face on boys it's time to step it up.

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    I think NJ Ramsfan is 110% correct. This is a multi-faceted problem that goes to how unimaginative our offense really has become. On his point about SJax, not only did he cover the deficiencies with the O-Line but he also covered those with Sam and his decision making. I support Sam and really want him to succeed, but without a significant running threat he will not perform to expectations.

    I'm hoping the TE blocking will improve since Cory Harkey has had a few weeks to heal from his pre-season injury. And the selection of DRich as the starting RB was in my mind a default decision because the others weren't ready. DRich is a change of pace back who needs to run outside the tackles, not between them. I hope Stacy gets his shot soon, because he may be our best bet against the better running defenses. Of course that will necessitate better blocking from our O-Line, get it going Dahl and Williams, will ya!

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I hate to be such a scheme nihilist, but I don't think any change this offense makes will result in more points until Schotty is shown the door. Which sucks bigtime, as that means yet another OC to be learned by the offense.
    Agreed, but consistency of a bad coach isn't a good thing either.

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Bernie: Can feeble Rams fix running game? Yes they can now shut your pie hole.

    Rams finished with 143 yards rushing.

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    The good news is, yes, the rams gained 143 yards on the ground.

    The bad news is, it was against the worst run defense in the league.

    IMO, we know as much about "can feeble Rams fix running game" as we did before this game.

    I'm still waiting for Schotty to learn what most people have learned with just an average understanding of what is good offensive play calling, that running Richardson between the tackles on 3rd downs w/eight-in-the box is not a good idea.
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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    and it was under the average against them

    but really, it comes down to who is running and what type of play

    richardson up the middle is stupid, if you stop that it'll be fine unless the line can open up lanes again

    stacy is an up the middle guy, but i think he can do some outside work

    though i do understand that it shouldn't become obvious what back will run a certain play, then it's all moot

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    Re: Bernie: Can Feeble Rams Fix Running Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    It seems that every Bernie article cites this source. My view of PFF is well documented so I won't repeat it, but it does raise two questions:

    1. Given that PFF is a pay site, isn't Bernie undermining their business by republishing their "stats" and analyses every week?



    and

    2. Does Bernie do ANY of his own research and analysis anymore?
    Agreed - embarrassed to have ever defended this tool.
    (Deserved the negative rep).
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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