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Thread: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

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    McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    McDaniels defends game plan

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Friday, November 25, 2011

    An empty backfield resulted in an empty offense and an empty afternoon last Sunday against Seattle. And that led to more criticism of Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels than at any time this season.

    The Rams lost 24-7 and managed only 185 yards against a Seahawks team that was middle of the pack (tied for 15th) in total defense entering the game.

    But it wasn't the lack of productivity that turned heads. That's not exactly a new development for a Rams offense that has struggled all season. It was the way the Rams went about trying to move the football. Running back Steven Jackson was one of the hottest backs in the league entering the game, with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games and no fewer than 128 yards in any one of those contests.

    But instead of playing the hot hand, the Rams went with a spread offense, making frequent use of empty backfields with Jackson split out at wide receiver.

    "We had a mixture of a lot of things in," McDaniels said Wednesday, defending the game plan during his weekly media session. "Did we end up using more empty (backfields) in that game than we had in some previous games? We did."

    But McDaniels said the Rams used a similar approach in Green Bay, gaining a season-high 424 yards. Although once again the Rams had trouble getting it in the end zone in a 24-3 loss, they at least looked like they had finally discovered their offensive identity.

    As was the case against Seattle, the Rams used a lot of no-huddle and many spread formations in Green Bay. By Post-Dispatch count, the Rams lined up 49 times in formations using three or more receivers in Green Bay.

    But the difference against Seattle was that the Rams used empty backfields so often, going without a running back in the backfield 28 out of 62 plays. The only time the Rams ran the ball out of the empty formation was a quarterback sneak by Sam Bradford late in the third quarter.

    "We had plenty of things in there to run the football from conventional sets, we did do that," McDaniels said. "Like I said, we had 16 or 17 (carries) with very little success. I think at some point you kind of say, 'That may not be our thing this week.'"

    Jackson finished with 15 carries for 42 yards, and 19 of those yards came on one second-quarter carry.

    "And so we had to go with what we had in the rest of the game plan," McDaniels said. "Unfortunately, not a whole lot worked and there's times that that's gonna happen. You just gotta try to keep fighting and finding a way to put some points on the board."

    The way McDaniels went about trying to put points on the board left him open to more criticism after left tackle Mark LeVoir left because of a pectoral muscle injury one series into the second quarter. Kevin Hughes, promoted the day before the game from the practice squad, came in with 8 minutes 36 seconds left in the first half.

    In 2 1/2 quarters, Hughes gave up 2 1/2 sacks, two quarterback hits, and one quarterback hurry. Most of that damage was done by Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons ó including all of the 2 1/2 sacks. But the Rams gave Hughes next to no help.

    On 30 called pass plays once Hughes replaced LeVoir, Hughes was given help only nine times with a running back or tight end kept in to double-team or chip block. And some of those "chips" were phantom blocks, with Rams players doing little more than tagging Clemons instead of pounding him to slow him down.

    "We put the tight end in the back over there whenever we were throwing the ball," McDaniels said.

    But most of those times, the tight end simply ran out on his pass route, without giving Clemons a second look.

    Only in the fourth quarter, after Clemons registered a sack fumble against Hughes that led to a touchdown and a 17-7 Seattle lead, did the Rams start giving Hughes legitimate help. They started placing Jackson in the backfield on Hughes' side instead of splitting Jackson out as a receiver. And Jackson did more than play tag with Clemons; he actually blocked him or helped block him.

    "Bottom line, we gotta do a little bit better job of trying to help if that's the situation," McDaniels said. "Get the ball out quickly and certainly not put ourselves in a hole to where you have to play the rest of the game that way. Because that's never a good formula."

    It shouldn't get to that Sunday against Arizona, because Hughes won't be at left tackle. Although coach Steve Spagnuolo hasn't confirmed any lineup changes on the offensive line, indications are that right guard Harvey Dahl will be moved out to left tackle and Jason Brown will come off the bench to play right guard.


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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    McDaniels has been as horrid play calling as our offense has been scoring this year. He sucks and needs to go..

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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by ZiaRam View Post
    McDaniels has been as horrid play calling as our offense has been scoring this year. He sucks and needs to go..
    And further regress Bradford's development? I think the main problem is the lack of hiring a QB coach that gave more burden to McDaniels. With Sam's sophomore slump, it's obvious he needed a QB coach that could easily focus on trying to develop him while McD can focus more on getting this offense molded together.

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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    "We had plenty of things in there to run the football from conventional sets, we did do that," McDaniels said. "Like I said, we had 16 or 17 (carries) with very little success. I think at some point you kind of say, 'That may not be our thing this week.'"
    But running empty backfield sets was?? Let's hope McDaniels can think on the fly if need be against Arizona.

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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Shurmur. We definitely did not get who we thought we were getting with McD. I thought we were getting another Martz type offensive genius, but one who didn't get his QBs murdered as much, but we're getting a guy who is doing nothing but gimmicky stuff at all the worst times. How many 3&1's did we have last game where we thre a 20+yard pass. Really? We have Jackson back there and we don't even try it? And this cutesy crap with Jackson at WR for 5 straight plays? What was that anyway? Who did he think he was fooling? The more games that go by, the more I want this guy gone. The ONLY reason I'd want him here is for continuity's sake for Bradford. Buthonestly that's beginning to matter less and less to me.

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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by fliptalianstallion View Post
    And further regress Bradford's development? I think the main problem is the lack of hiring a QB coach that gave more burden to McDaniels. With Sam's sophomore slump, it's obvious he needed a QB coach that could easily focus on trying to develop him while McD can focus more on getting this offense molded together.
    Ok seriously? His develpoment is already regresseed and you think that a QB coach this or next year wiill help out? The O Cord. will be gone with the old regime and Sam will have a new system to learn..

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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    Wait a minute ....................................... He has a game plan?? Sure as heck fooled most of us.
    ZiaRam likes this.


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    Re: McDaniels Defends Game Plan

    McD is a fine offensive mind, but that gameplan was terrible. If he thinks it was a good idea, he's delusional.
    RamDez and ZiaRam like this.

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