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Thread: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

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    Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    By Jim Thomas

    A day later, the last play of Monday night’s 14-9 loss to Seattle remained the one play most Rams fans wanted to talk about.
    As for coach Jeff Fisher — not so much.

    “It was the play selection,” Fisher said, of quarterback Kellen Clemens’ incomplete pass to Brian Quick on a fade pattern as time expired. “It’s what we felt gave us the best chance to score a touchdown.”

    But on a night where the Rams rushed for 200 yards, why not at least have Zac Stacy in the backfield? Stacy went in motion and split out wide on the play. So instead of having to guess whether the Rams would run or pass, the Seahawks knew a pass was coming and sent an all-out blitz at Clemens on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

    Clemens’ pass was hurried because of the pressure and was thrown behind Quick, who was well covered by Seattle corner Brandon Browner.

    “What if we had had a back back there and didn’t get in?” Fisher said. “We’d be asked about why you’d run it, why didn’t we go empty and give Kellen a chance to throw the football? So, that was what we prepared to do. We thought it gave us the best chance.”

    Clemens said the play-call from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer gave him “a lot of options” on what to run based on the look he got from the Seattle defense.

    “We wanted to give ‘Kel’ options to get the ball out quick,” Fisher said after the game. “He made the right read, and we didn’t make the catch.”

    “They sold out from a defensive standpoint — brought everybody,” Clemens said, speaking of the Seattle defense. “So the best option we had was ‘Quickie.’ Browner made a good play that seemed like a pretty physical play. (Would have) loved to have put the ball in a little bit different spot. But didn’t have a lot of time to assess it since they brought one more than we could block.”

    As is custom for Seattle corners, Browner was physical on the line of scrimmage with Quick, who had trouble beating the jam.

    “When you’re in certain situations like that, it’s not going to always go as planned — like you practice — every time,” Quick said. “So you’ve just got to basically do what you can to get open. That’s what I tried to do.”

    So that was that. One of the Rams’ best defensive efforts and best rushing efforts in years wasn’t enough to overcome Seattle.

    The 200 yards rushing (on 37 carries) marked the Rams’ first 200-yard rushing game in five years. The last time it happened was Dec. 28, 2008, when the Rams had 202 yards rushing against Atlanta in Jim Haslett’s last game as interim head coach.

    And Monday’s strong ground effort came against the league’s second-ranked defense and sixth-ranked run defense.

    “That’s amazing,” Clemens said. “Against that defense? That is such a credit to what the other 10 guys on the football field did. Credit Zac (Stacy). He did a great job. He made yards after contact. He’s a great asset for us. We’re lucky to have him.’’

    Despite a late-game ankle injury, Stacy gained 134 yards on 26 carries. It’s the second-highest rushing total for a Rams rookie since the move to St. Louis in 1995, exceeded only by Steven Jackson’s 148 yards vs. Philadelphia in 2004.

    Defensively, the Rams were even more dominant. As dominant as they’ve been since coming to St. Louis. Seattle’s 135 yards of total offense was the lowest ever against a “St. Louis” Rams defense.

    In fact, throw out the fluky 80-yard TD catch by Golden Tate, on a play in which Janoris Jenkins was in position for an interception before losing his balance, and it would’ve been a defensive performance of historic proportions.

    (The 1937 Rams allowed 68 yards vs. Washington, the third-best defensive day in franchise history in terms of yards allowed. The ’73 Rams allowed 63 yards vs. Green Bay for second-best. The team — and league — record is minus-7 yards allowed against Seattle in 1979.)

    “ ‘Jenks’ actually was in really good position considering the coverage,” Fisher said of Jenkins. “We had some confusion and we were checked in and out of coverages. ‘Jenks’ actually was just sinking; he was in underneath coverage but he still was in position nonetheless. He sorted things out and was in position to make the play, just got his legs tangled.”

    Earlier, there appeared to be some confusion in the secondary on Tate’s first TD catch, a 2-yard reception in the second quarter.

    “They quick-snapped, and there was some communication stuff going on, but no (confusion),” Fisher said. “I think we’re nitpicking here. I thought the secondary played pretty good. I thought the safeties played well in the run game. I thought they pressured well.

    “We gave them multiple looks, and like I said (Monday) night, we asked the corners to do a lot of stuff by themselves the whole game. That’s how you have to defend this run game and the read-option and everything associated with Marshawn Lynch. So, I thought overall the guys played pretty well.”

    In part, that entailed having the Rams play more man-to-man coverage than usual. The result was only 139 yards passing by Wilson, and just 91 net passing yards after subtracting the 48 yards lost on seven sacks.

    All things considered, Fisher said it has been a while since one of his defenses played that well.

    “We had a good plan,” Fisher said. “We spent a lot of time during the week on the things that they were doing ... and somehow it just all came together.”

    Just not together enough for an upset victory.


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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Some of Fisher's responses rubbed me the wrong way in this article, so I wanted to know what other people thought too.

    1. No, going empty backfield on 4th and 1, and AGAIN not picking up the blitz did not give the Rams the best chance to win. In fact, you could probably argue that since I don't know that I've seen the Rams throw the fade successfully at any point this year (let alone with a backup QB), it gave them a horrible chance at winning.

    2. Also no, I don't think too many fans would be complaining if you left the back in. Who would say "Well they should have gone empty backfield"? Anybody? That seemed like a really poor response to criticism. "Coach, what's the thought process behind telegraphing a passing play on 4th and 1?" "Well you'd complain no matter what"? That's not an answer.

    3. Nobody would be questioning the call if run the ball. 200 yards on the grown with a human bowling ball > Clemens.

    4. If you insist on running the fade, has Quick shown any ability to go up and over defenders? (Honest question, can't say I remember).

    5. Why am I all of a sudden hearing about how Clemens is given several plays to choose from, and he makes the call based on coverage? I heard all about it on MNF, and again in this article. I don't remember hearing ANYTHING about this with Bradford. Why even have a play-caller if it's essentially just the QB. My biggest concern with this is that Clemens likely views himself as a starting-caliber QB, and would like to do everything in his power to start for another team. Wouldn't that make him a little biased towards trying to make a play himself? Not saying that's why he chose to pass the ball, just a thought..

    Moral victory on Monday. While I was disappointed, without Bradford I didn't expect much. There were so many bright spots (especially on defense) that it was hard to really be too disappointed. Very good experience for a young team.

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    “It was the play selection,” Fisher said, of quarterback Kellen Clemens’ incomplete pass to Brian Quick on a fade pattern as time expired. “It’s what we felt gave us the best chance to score a touchdown.”
    Coach, I understand why and even appreciate that you say this. But you don't honestly believe it, do you? Quick rubbing off Browner's jam and Clemons lobbing the perfect pitch, all while the D runs freely to the empty backfield? Really?
    “What if we had had a back back there and didn’t get in?” Fisher said. “We’d be asked about why you’d run it, why didn’t we go empty and give Kellen a chance to throw the football? So, that was what we prepared to do. We thought it gave us the best chance.”
    No, Coach. I'm sorry, but no Rams fan anywhere would have wondered why you didn't go empty back set on 4th and goal at the 1 yard line.
    “They sold out from a defensive standpoint — brought everybody,” Clemens said, speaking of the Seattle defense. “So the best option we had was ‘Quickie.’ Browner made a good play that seemed like a pretty physical play. (Would have) loved to have put the ball in a little bit different spot. But didn’t have a lot of time to assess it since they brought one more than we could block.”

    As is custom for Seattle corners, Browner was physical on the line of scrimmage with Quick, who had trouble beating the jam.
    Wait, what? It was an empty backfield. Everyone in the country knew what you were doing and what the defense was going to do. And our best option was a route which required a WR, who has not thus far done a good job of being physical, to BE physical, against one of the MOST physical CBs in all of football? Again.....really?
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlantaRamFan View Post
    By Jim Thomas



    But on a night where the Rams rushed for 200 yards, why not at least have Zac Stacy in the backfield? Stacy went in motion and split out wide on the play. So instead of having to guess whether the Rams would run or pass, the Seahawks knew a pass was coming and sent an all-out blitz at Clemens on fourth-and-goal from the 1.


    Despite a late-game ankle injury, Stacy gained 134 yards on 26 carries. It’s the second-highest rushing total for a Rams rookie since the move to St. Louis in 1995, exceeded only by Steven Jackson’s 148 yards vs. Philadelphia in 2004.
    I don't know the severity of Stacy's ankle injury but this might be the fly in the ointment?

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Both Stacy and Dahl were injured. That makes it more difficult to run it up the middle.

    Clemens have been more years in the system (and the league). Maybe they trust him more in calling plays at the line. Or maybe it is just that Bradford did it and we didn't hear about it.

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by emuen View Post
    Both Stacy and Dahl were injured. That makes it more difficult to run it up the middle.

    Clemens have been more years in the system (and the league). Maybe they trust him more in calling plays at the line. Or maybe it is just that Bradford did it and we didn't hear about it.
    Dahl was having a monster game run-blocking before getting hurt as was Stacy. Running it in from the 2 on 4th down with Stacy being in hurt and Dahl out would be highly questionable. Seattle blew up the 3rd down attempt at the 1 of running it in from Drich who was running well too.

    Didn't like the empty backfield and shotgun on 4th, but can't really say much besides great effort, came up a little short.
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Four wide, empty backfield.

    Quarterback draw. Do what's not expected. Don't send up smoke signals.

    Had the wind not shoved Zerlein's kick clanging into the upright we would have only needed the FG here instead.
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by bradwill View Post
    Dahl was having a monster game run-blocking before getting hurt as was Stacy. Running it in from the 2 on 4th down with Stacy being in hurt and Dahl out would be highly questionable. Seattle blew up the 3rd down attempt at the 1 of running it in from Drich who was running well too.
    But the Rams didn't have to run it on that final play. Just giving the look would have forced the Seattle D to align to stop a run, as opposed to pinning their ears back and going after Clemens, and blanketing the Rams receivers. By going empty backfield, options were limited, and the defense had the advantage. Bad call.
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    But the Rams didn't have to run it on that final play. Just giving the look would have forced the Seattle D to align to stop a run, as opposed to pinning their ears back and going after Clemens, and blanketing the Rams receivers. By going empty backfield, options were limited, and the defense had the advantage. Bad call.
    This is the point exactly. Just having a RB in the backfield does not mean you HAVE to run the ball, but it at least makes the defense play in two dimensions.
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by BM_Face View Post
    This is the point exactly. Just having a RB in the backfield does not mean you HAVE to run the ball, but it at least makes the defense play in two dimensions.
    Precisely. The only rationale I can make out of this is the Rams felt by lining up all WR's they could keep the Seattle defense guessing where the pass was going, but in all honesty their secondary is too good to be fooled.

    My hope going forward is that we snatch a game down the road that we were not expecting to win as the offset to a verrrrry disappointing loss.

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Jeff Fisher knows more about his football team than I do, but I have a tough time swallowing his explanations. I just don't think putting the ball in Kellen Clemens' hands on the 2 yard line on a fade rout when Seattle is selling out with an all-out blitz is sound strategy.
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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Fisher is definitely being a bit delusional here.

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    There were multiple things where I have a problem. If you go empty backfield, why put Stacy in the game at all? Once he's in there they put him at WR. Not in the slot - all the way outside. Why?

    The route isn't necessary a problem. What they needed though is the outside WR to come across the middle to rub the CB off press coverage.

    The ball was thrown in a position making it impossible to achieve a completion even if Quick did generate some separation.

    Play I'd have called, RB in the backfield to hold the LBers, sweep Clemens to the right, Pettis coming across the backside as the left deep option. The far right WR coming in on a pick as the center option. The slot receiver (or TE) sliding outside as the right option at the goal line. If all three are covered, Clemens runs the ball, otherwise he's got 3 options. THAT's having options. Austin had a TD for this play earlier in the season.

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    There was no reason for Clemens to throw the ball out of reach. If it is intercepted or incomplete the Rams lose. Just throw it right at Quick and let the chips fall where they may.

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    Re: Rams' Final Play is Debated (Stl. Post Dispatch)

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlantaRamFan View Post
    By Jim Thomas

    “That’s amazing,” Clemens said. “Against that defense? That is such a credit to what the other 10 guys on the football field did. .
    To be honest, this quote is what our entire season is likely to boil down to for me.

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