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-01-03-2011 #1Registered User
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Last night and beyond...taking several steps back
Let's get it out the way, because some will focus too heavily on it and it's only fair to admit it was a factor (and if we don't then we don't cover all the bases). As bad as the Rams were (and they were and we will come to that) the officiating was very, very poor and made an already tough task even harder. Not a single 50/50 call went the Rams way - several 20/80 (or even 0/100) calls went the way of the Seahawks. It was a factor, yes. But it was only a factor.
So, to the Rams themselves and let's start with the playcalling. The case against Spags and Shurmur last night seems to be, in the main, twofold. One, a reluctance to throw deep. Two, a reluctance to run Steven Jackson. We've heard the first charge all season long and with some justification. If you constantly run up the gut or throw short passes, defenses will gravitate towards the box, making those players tougher to execute. Then again, as we saw last night, we don't actually have the receivers right now to make deep plays. So you risk throwing away a play or, worse still, an interception. Neither things which help the team, nor - moreover - the quarterback. Especially a young quarterback. Short passes that connect and pick up even two or three yards at a time...well...as conservative as they might feel, they have a more positive effect all round. This isn't to say it's the right thing to do as much as we do, but it is understandable. Now if we go out and get those threats in FA or the draft and we're still running this system, well that is the time to start questioning whether we have the right guys making the calls.
The second charge, the underuse of Jackson, is harder to explain away. When he did run the ball last night he did so with some success. The only things I can say in mitigation are that the O-line haven't gotten much blocking done for him all season and particularly in recent weeks. His ypc isn't up there with the best and we've all expressed frustration with seeing the run get stuffed as we pick up a yard or two. Maybe Shurmur and Spags saw enough of that and wanted to try something different, using Jackson later in the game, hoping that it would be tight and he'd then over run them. As it was, the game started to get away from us and we were forced to keep throwing. So the gameplan didn't pan as we hoped and ended up with SJ being criminally underused.
None of which is to excuse the terribly disappointing defeat or seeming lack of fire on offense. But I can see the reasons for why we played the way we did...unfortunately, the gameplan just didn't work out. It needs to be remembered that we have a young head coach in charge who's still a relative rookie himself. Having seen how Spagnuolo has improved this team I'm sure he'll learn from this and it will improve him and us.
The season as a whole / where we are
The numbers point to a much improved season. 1/15 to 7/9 is better than most of us expected and shows things are moving in the right direction. At the same time, we need to mitigate that slightly. Accepting that you can only beat what you're up against, our schedule was probably as easy as we could hope for. Looking at the likely schedule for next year, we'll have to seriously improve in the off season if we're to go .500 or better. But let's not forget that the rest of the West are similarly challenged, so we should be fighting for the division again, come week 17 in 2011 (assuming there is a 2011).
We're still too short in a number of areas so much will depend on the moves we can make over the next six-seven months. We're not far off being the best in the West but how well we'd then stack up is questionable. We're an improving side (notably on defense) but we're still a work in progress. We maybe got carried away with the improvement because we had a great chance to make the play offs but the truth is that, in an 'average' division, we'd probably be where we are - short in a number of areas and probably the third best side.
The point of this long post has really been to try and get some perspective on both last night and the season as a whole. We're much improved, sure, but maybe not quite where we want to be just yet. That doesn't mean we're not on schedule tho. Spags and Devaney have taken this organisation from a very bleak place and put the foundations in place for real, sustained improvement (and hopefully long-term success). As disappointing as last night undoubtedly was, let's not beat up on ourselves, the team, or the coaches too much while we're heading in the right direction.
Keep the faith, fellow Rams.
Last edited by sonnyjames; -01-03-2011 at 08:45 AM.