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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    McDaniels didn't envision this mess

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Monday, October 10, 2011Aug. 16, 2011 -- Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during St. Louis Rams training camp at the Russell Training Center in Earth City, Mo.


    After four games in his first season as Rams offensive coordinator, this isn't what Josh McDaniels had in mind. The Rams are struggling to score, struggling to move the football, sometimes they're struggling just to get lined up right and get the ball snapped.

    McDaniels's résumé as a play-caller and a coordinator would've suggested anything but 11.5 points a game and a No. 27 ranking in total offense through four games.

    "I've been in seasons where it hasn't gone the way that you wanted it to go in one stretch or another," McDaniels said. "And this is really one of those (stretches). I think this is where your mental toughness, and the longevity of the season comes in."

    So as bad as things have gone for the winless Rams (0-4), they've got 12 more games to get it right.

    "The focus has gotta always be on playing our best in November and December," McDaniels said. "And if we can get to that point where we're doing that, you never know. So we've got to continue to push and fight."

    And pass block, catch the ball, avoid penalties and score in the red zone, to name a few. There is so much to correct when it comes to the offense, and so little practice time.

    "You can't try to fix any and everything that you may want to in two days," McDaniels said, referring to the Rams' bye week practices Tuesday and Wednesday. "But we tried to focus on a few things, and I think we got some good work done."

    Priority No. 1 one remains protecting the passer. The Rams are on pace to allow 76 sacks, which would tie for third worst all-time with the expansion Houston Texans of 2002. McDaniels agrees that shorter routes by receivers and more rollouts by quarterback Sam Bradford could ease some of the pass-rushing pressure.

    "But the bottom line is, we're going to have to stay in and throw it," McDaniels said. "We've shown that we have the ability to do that. And whether it be a technique thing, a fundamental thing, the (middle linebacker) called in the right spot, or a different protection, or different scheme — we've got to try to limit the amount of times that we're putting pressure on the quarterback. That's a team thing, and it starts with our coaches."

    TROUBLE AT TACKLE

    Most of the leakage in pass protection has occurred at the tackle position. By Post-Dispatch count, Rams offensive tackles have been responsible for 7˝ sacks, followed by 4˝ sacks allowed by backs and tight ends, and four sacks allowed by interior offensive linemen. Three sacks have been "team" sacks, where maybe a defender came in unblocked, or Bradford ran out of bounds. The one-half sack designation means a defender was being blocked by two Rams players when he broke free and got to the quarterback.

    Keep in mind, this tally doesn't take into account instances in which Bradford held onto the ball too long, or receivers simply couldn't get open. It merely catalogues who was blocking the pass rusher who got to the quarterback.

    "We know we can do it as a group," McDaniels said. "Whether the protection's one thing or another, whether we're sliding left or right, whether the back's in or not ... we've got to do it better and more consistently."

    Even an attempt to help pass protection, by changing the cadence and snap count, has backfired on the Rams with a flurry of false-start penalties. The Rams have eight false starts in four games; only Green Bay and San Francisco, with nine each, have more in the National Football League. The Rams' total is particularly astounding because three of their four games have been at home, where crowd noise isn't a factor on offense.

    During the two bye-week practices, the Rams varied the snap count and didn't go on "one" one time. When players jumped and committed a false start, they had to run laps around the field at Rams Park.

    "When you can offset the pass rush because they don't know what the snap count's going to be, particularly at home, it can be a very good weapon for you to use," McDaniels said. "So we've gotta focus and concentrate. Guys being more comfortable with their assignments and knowing their job, and not having to think as much, can allow them to focus on the snap count and make sure that we don't make those mistakes. Because they certainly have killed us in a few situations."

    Playing catch-up

    Playing from behind almost exclusively this season hasn't helped, either. The Rams have been forced to pass, and opponents know it, when the scoreboard gets lopsided. In three of their four losses, the Rams have trailed by at least 14 points by halftime. In the only exception, the opener against Philadelphia, the Rams trailed by 14 midway through the third quarter.

    All season long, the Rams have led only twice, for a not-so-grand total of 6 minutes 28 seconds. They led 7-0 in the first quarter against Philadelphia, but the Eagles tied the game just 3 minutes later. And the Rams led 3-0 in the first quarter against the New York Giants, but New York took the lead 3˝ minutes later and never looked back. And that's been it. End highlight reel.

    "We talked from the very beginning of training camp about trying to establish the lead," McDaniels said. "You have to play well right away, off the bat, and get ahead. Because certainly in this league when you're ahead, there's more you can do and there's certain things that they have to do when they're behind.

    "We haven't put somebody in that position very much this year and it's a focus of ours. We're trying to start practice fast, so we can try to carry that over into the game. When we do that, I think we'll feel a little differently about how those four quarters go."


  2. #2
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    McDaniels agrees that shorter routes by receivers and more rollouts by quarterback Sam Bradford could ease some of the pass-rushing pressure.
    Better late than never. I'm not sure why McDaniels didn't make these adjustments during games when it was clear that the line was struggling at the expense of Bradford's life, but hopefully they will make a difference and put him in a comfort zone he can at least function in.

  3. #3
    sonnyjames is offline Registered User
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    The shame is that we face GB at Lambeau this weekend. It won't come any harder. The potential for much of our good work in the bye week to come undone is huge.

    The flip side is that this would be a great game for us to start fighting back. Some pride regained in GB would go a long way to battling back into contention this season. It'll be tough but hey - that's football.

  4. #4
    NY RAMFAN's Avatar
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    Nobody expects to win at lambau field... nobody expect to beat any of the team we loss to... (well maybe the feagles) but everybody expect us to put up a fight and not go down easy...
    I just hope they do fight this weekend...

    ...any given sunday...

  5. #5
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    Things would also look a lot different if say half of the dropped passes were caught

  6. #6
    MACD is offline Registered User
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    ^ This. No.Kidding.

  7. #7
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    Neither did I

  8. #8
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    How about a Robert Quinn coming out party this week? We drafted a pass rusher in the first round, lets turn him loose on a spread em out passing attack?

  9. #9
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: McDaniels Didn't Envision This Mess

    Gotta put relentless pressure on Rodgers ALL GAME to even think about having a shot.

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