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Thread: A not-so-high five for Rams
A not-so-high five for Rams
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams put up a season-high point total last Sunday in Washington. The fact that the total was 19 is a telling indicator of the state of the St. Louis offense these days.
True, the last three of those points — on a Josh Brown field goal — gave the Rams a surprising 19-17 victory over the Redskins.
But it also made it five consecutive games this season in which the Rams have failed to score at least 20 points. Such a lengthy dry spell hasn't happened often. In fact, in the 71-year history of the franchise, the Rams have gone five straight games or more without scoring 20 points on only 10 other occasions. MORE RAMS
The longest such streak occurred in 1937, the franchise's inaugural season. En route to a 1-10 record, the Cleveland Rams went the final nine games of that campaign without scoring 20 points in any contest.
It's a milestone the '08 Rams don't want to approach.
"We need to score more points, obviously," coach Jim Haslett said Thursday. "It's hard to win with 10, 12 points. But you know what? If we score 19, and the defense has to score to win a game, we're all right with that, also. Whatever we've got to do to win games."
That formula worked against the Redskins. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe accounted for the Rams' only touchdown with a 75-yard return of a recovered fumble. Brown kicked four field goals.
But it would be difficult, and unrealistic, to count on that formula week in and week out, particularly this Sunday against the potent Dallas offense. Even if injured quarterback Tony Romo doesn't play, the Cowboys still line up with Terrell Owens at wide receiver, Marion Barber in the backfield, and Jason Witten at tight end. Not to mention a big, physical, and experienced offensive line.
If that weren't enough, the Cowboys added Pro Bowl wide receiver Roy Williams this week in a trade with Detroit.
So points, and possession, will be imperative for the Rams' offense this week. "We'll try," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "Get in the red zone and avoid penalties. Avoid third-and-longs. Do better on first downs, and just do anything we can to get it in (the end zone).
"Because we have to keep their offense off the field. They're too good. ... They have too many playmakers on offense. To hold them under 20 points is probably going to be a miracle."
The Rams have scored a league-low five TDs this season, and are averaging a league-low 12.4 points per game. They have been in the red zone only five times — also a league low. Their third-down conversion rate of 23.8 percent ranks next-to-last. And their time of possession (27 minutes, 8 seconds) ranks 29th.
It's easy to blame the quarterback, the running back, the line, or even the front office for all of this, but there are numerous factors involved. There's a new, complex offense coordinated by Al Saunders. The running back (Steven Jackson) was slow to get going following a 27-day contract holdout. The quarterback, Bulger, hasn't played up to past standards.
The star wide receiver, Torry Holt, is off to the slowest start of his 10-year NFL career. Holt has gotten extra attention from opposing defenses because of the lack of a consistent complementary threat at the other wide receiver spot. "We've thrown him a lot of balls," Saunders said. "We just haven't been able to hook up like we'd like to. But it's five games into the season. We've got 11 games to go."
Injuries have affected four of the five offensive linemen projected as starters at the beginning of camp. At the skill positions, four wide receivers have missed at least one regular-season game because of injury: Donnie Avery, Drew Bennett, Keenan Burton and Dane Looker.
Starting tight end Randy McMichael and backup running back Brian Leonard are on the season-ending injured reserve list. Another backup running back, Antonio Pittman, will miss his third game in a row Sunday because of injury.
All of which has prevented the offense from evolving into a productive unit. "You wish it was here now, but it's not," Saunders said. "Usually, an offense is successful in incremental doses when you're all together. When you keep having to mix and match parts, it makes the job a little bit more difficult."
And don't forget the schedule. Where's a lousy opposing defense when you need one? Dallas will be the fifth top-10 defense the Rams have faced in six games this season.
"That's nice, isn't it?" Haslett said sarcastically. "We don't make the schedule; we've just got to play it.
"We're just not scoring enough touchdowns right now. But we're working hard. We're trying. We've got to get the running game going, obviously, and then everything will feed off of that."
Last edited by eldfan; -10-17-2008 at 11:06 AM.
Re: A not-so-high five for Rams
I really really hope Burton being in the line up is going to help us. We saw that Avery can accomplish quite a bit on the field. He can get open and he's fast! We need that on the field and we got that. I hope Burton has good hands and can get open.
The line needs to step up this week. Help the run and pass. We really need eveyrone to step up this weekend against one of the better teams.
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