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Thread: Get Them The Damn Ball
Get Them The Damn Ball
Get Them The Damn Ball......But Then Do Something With It
By Howard Balzer
Friday, October 10, 2008
Ever since Jim Haslett replaced Scott Linehan as the team's head coach on Sept. 29, Haslett has consistently said the offense has to put the ball in the hands of its playmakers like running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Torry Holt.
That's a no-brainer.
As Haslett said Thursday, "I think we've got some guys that need to touch the ball. You only have one ball so you can only give it to one guy on every play, but there's enough guys that if we can, you know, Steven and obviously Torry, and then we have Donnie (Avery) now involved and we have a couple other guys and as we get healthy we'll have some more, so I just want to get the guys that I feel can make plays, I want to give them the ball in more situations."
However, the issue for the Rams' offense revolves more around doing something with the ball when those players have it than giving it to them. That extends possessions and provides more opportunities for those players.
Consider that after four games, the Rams are last in the NFL with just 51 first downs and last in third-down conversion percentage with 22.4. The only other teams under 30 percent are Detroit (25.0), Oakland (24.5) and Seattle (28.8 ). The Lions are also winless, while the Raiders and Seahawks have one win.
In first downs, Cleveland (one victory) and Oakland are the next worse with 58.
Because of those two statistics, the Rams are also at the bottom of the league in total plays with an average of 54.8 offensive plays per game. Baltimore leads the league with 68.3, followed by Arizona and Tampa Bay with 68.0.
Ironically, San Francisco is next to last with an average of 55.8 plays per game, but they average 5.5 yards per play, compared to the Rams' 4.5.
Even more revealing is that Jackson's percentage of touches is actually higher this year than it was in 2006 when he led the NFL in combined yards from scrimmage.
That year, Jackson had 436 touches of the team's 1,065 plays for a 40.9 percentage. This year, he has 94 touches in the Rams' 219 plays, a percentage of 42.9. The difference is that in 2006, Jackson averaged 4.4 yards per rush. So far this season, his average per carry is 3.6. In receptions, his average this year (10.6) is actually higher than in 2006 when he averaged 8.9 yards per catch. However, aside from a 53-yard play against Buffalo, he has averaged 8.3 yards per reception, slightly lower than that 2006 average of 8.9.
As for Holt, his production is markedly down. Even with last season's offensive woes, Holt's 93 receptions represented 9.1 percent of the offensive plays. He averaged 12.8 yards a catch. This season, he has 15 receptions (6.8 percent), for a respectable 12.5-yard average. However, the 14 catches he has aside from his 45-yard touchdown against the Giants have averaged just 10.1 yards.
Of course, Holt doesn't have Isaac Bruce on the other side anymore. But that's another story for another day. Holt needs Avery to continue improving, so there will be more opportunities.
The reality is clear: While it sounds good to say the ball has to go the playmakers more, those playmakers have to actually make plays when the ball is in their hands.
*Tight end Daniel Fells suffered severe cramping about an hour after Thursday's practice and an ambulance had to be sent for him at the Russell Training Center. Fells, who was dehydrated, was signed Monday off the Buccaneers' practice squad. … Wide receiver Dane Looker underwent an angiogram Thursday, but the results were not available as of mid-afternoon. The test was being done to see if a spot on Looker's brain is an aneurysm. Punter Donnie Jones will be the holder for kicker Josh Brown with Looker out Sunday. Looker took over as the holder after Jones injured his right knee earlier in the season.
*Linebacker Will Witherspoon, who is tied for the team lead in tackle with linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa with 33, was limited in practice Monday because of a shoulder injury suffered against Buffalo on Sept. 28. However, he participated fully both Wednesday and Thursday.
*How much of an impact has linebacker Gary Stills had on special teams? After four games, Stills has nine tackles on kick coverage. Last season, safety Todd Johnson led the team with 23 special teams tackles.
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