Round Two: Why Are The Rams So Conservative With The Lead?
Why are Rams so conservative with the lead?
Monday, December 27, 2010 1:27 pm
QUESTION: Why do you think the Rams seemingly play so conservatively when they are nursing a lead?
The Rams have a defensive-oriented head coach in Steve Spagnuolo, and that usually means a conservative approach offensively. Spagnuolo has enough confidence in his defense that he’s more than willing to put the game on their shoulders at various times. The tactic has worked most of the time against lesser teams and mediocre teams, but will it be the right thing to do when the Rams are matched up with elite teams in the future? Maybe we’ll find out in the playoffs.
It comes directly from the head coach’s philosophy of tough defense and using the clock to shorten the game. While it works against a San Francisco team that is already falling apart, the season has shown that against upper-level competition, it requires this young team to play a perfect game.
Steve Spagnuolo is a defensive coach. He values ball protection and field position. He is risk-averse. He has more confidence in his defense than his offense at this point. He gave Bradford and Co. a bit more late-game latitude as the season progressed, but he unapologetically reeled in the unit Sunday. It may have made some sense against the *****, a team that made just a couple notable plays all day – but as Bernie Miklasz notes, that philosophy can backfire against better teams. The Rams don’t have a shutdown defense. They just don’t.
I think it’s mostly because Steve Spagnuolo is a defensive coach at heart and is comfortable placing his trust in the defense. I also think that despite the solid season Sam Bradford has had, he’s still a rookie with a minimum of reliable components surrounding him and Spags fears an inopportune mistake or turnover that could reverse the momentum.
Re: Round Two: Why Are The Rams So Conservative With The Lead?
Everyone is correct. Spags is a defensive minded, grind-it-out-on-offense type of coach. He will never be confused with Mike Martz or Don Coryell. He figures the best way to win is with a low risk type of approach- shorten the game by running the ball and throw a lot of high percentage (short) passes. And this philosophy makes all the more sense with a lack of talent at the receiver position and a rookie QB. The upside to this approach is that you can stay in games against better teams. The downside is that if you get down by a couple of scores, you're in trouble. And from many fans' perspectives isn't the most exciting type of football to watch- a far cry from the GSOT days.
Spags has also shown he is not inflexible; while he prefers running the ball and defensive football, he hasn't been averse to letting Sam throw it. After all, you don't draft a franchise QB to watch him hand off 35 times a game. I think you'll continue to see Spags adjust as Bradford matures and gets some weapons around him in the coming years.