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  1. #1
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    St. Louis Rams have trouble scoring in the red zone

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Tuesday, Dec. 02 2008
    Hard to imagine, but as bad as the Rams' offense has been this season, their
    red zone offense has been even worse.

    For starters, the Rams have treated the red zone like an exotic vacation
    destination a place you visit only on special occasions. In 12 games this
    season, they have been in the red zone or inside the opponent's 20-yard line
    only 19 times.

    The league average, excluding the Rams, is 38.7 red zone trips. At the upper
    end of the spectrum, the New York Giants have been in the red zone a
    league-high 59 times; Arizona, 55 times; the New York Jets, 53.

    So it's not like the Rams have much practice in the red zone.

    "We practice it a lot," coach Jim Haslett said, in an attempt at humor.

    On the practice field, maybe. But not on game day.

    "That would be good if we got down there," he said.

    And once they do get "down there," not much happens. In those 19 trips into the
    red zone, the Rams have scored a mere five touchdowns, which is light years
    away from Arizona's league-high total of 33 red zone TDs. The Rams' red zone
    conversion rate of 26.3 percent (five TDs in 19 trips) is easily a league low.

    So how do the Rams solve their red zone woes?

    "That's a good question," Haslett said. "We haven't scored enough touchdowns,
    that's the bottom line. In the last four games we've scored one touchdown. In
    the last six games we've scored (four) touchdowns, and two of them came at the
    end when we were losing by 14 or more. Somehow we've got to manufacture points
    and get to the end zone.

    "We've only scored 12 touchdowns all year on offense. Maybe we don't have the
    big-play type players that we've had in the past. But there's other teams in
    the league that are similar to us that are finding ways to get in the end zone."

    With running back Steven Jackson back in the lineup Sunday, the Rams put
    together drives of nine, 10, 11, and 14 plays. But they couldn't finish. All
    four of those drives resulted in Josh Brown field goals, with two of them
    stalling out in the red zone, and a third ending right on the 20 (which doesn't
    qualify as a red zone trip because it was not "inside" the 20).

    On the opening possession of the game, the Rams had a first and goal at the
    Miami 7. But with Jackson having carried or caught a pass on five of the first
    seven plays, he was on the bench when the Rams reached the 7.

    Backup Antonio Pittman carried for 2 yards on first down, and then quarterback
    Marc Bulger threw the next two passes away for incompletions with no receivers
    open.

    "When you're down to the 5-yard line, you want to be able to just grind it in,
    or try to make something happen throwing the ball," Bulger said. "They did a
    good job covering everything ... and it was just a matter of having to throw
    the ball away. Hopefully, we'll be able to run the ball a little better once we
    get into the red zone."

    They certainly haven't had any success throwing it when in close. Bulger is six
    for 18 passing in the red zone this season; backup Trent Green is zero for
    five. On third down in the red zone, Rams passers are a paltry two for 14.

    That's one reason the Rams have scored touchdowns on only 50 percent of their
    goal-to-go situations this season (five of 10). Only Oakland has a lower
    success rate in such situations in the NFL.

    Tight ends and tall wide receivers are inviting targets in the red zone. But
    since Randy McMichael suffered a season-ending leg injury, the Rams haven't had
    a legitimate receiving threat at tight end. Their only wide receiver over 6
    feet tall, 6-5 Drew Bennett, is on injured reserve and has been out since the
    first series of the first game. As for seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt, he
    attracts double teams likes bees to honey near the goal line.

    When it comes to running the football, the Rams have lacked some necessary
    ingredients for red zone success as well. They don't have a pile-driving
    fullback as a lead blocker. In fact, with last week's release of Dan Kreider,
    they don't even have a fullback.

    They don't really have a big, physical, mauling type of offensive line. And
    they have been without their 235-pound running back, Jackson, for nearly half
    the season.

    At least having Jackson back in the lineup gives them a chance these days in
    the red zone.

    "Oh yeah," Haslett said. "I think any time you have a chance to run it in,
    that'll help. We've just got to get it down there."

    But like just about everything else involving the Rams on offense this season,
    that's easier said than done.
    St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson says he's feeling OK after Dolphins game
    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Tuesday, Dec. 02 2008
    The day after his first extensive game action in six weeks, Rams running back
    Steven Jackson was none the worse for the effort. "He came through OK," coach
    Jim Haslett reported Monday.

    Jackson, who strained his right thigh Oct. 19 vs. Dallas, attempted to come
    back two weeks later against Arizona. He managed just seven carries and did
    additional damage to the muscle in the process, forcing him out for the next
    three games.

    His thigh was a bit tight and sore throughout the 16-12 loss to Miami, Jackson
    said. "But now, it's not worse than what I was feeling in the game," he said
    afterward.

    So, Jackson should be in the lineup Sunday, when the Rams challenge the
    Cardinals in Arizona. He might be limited again, though. Jackson's anticipated
    workload against the Dolphins contributed to a dispute over whether he was
    "gassed" in the fourth quarter, as Haslett put it, or whether he was kept on
    the sideline as a precaution.

    Jackson firmly denied that he was fatigued. "No, I wasn't gassed," he said. "I
    had 21 carries and felt great."

    Haslett tiptoed around the subject Monday, asserting that "it kind of got blown
    out of proportion." He explained that the plan was for Jackson to get "15 to 18
    touches, and then on third down to go with (Kenneth) Darby, spell (Antonio)
    Pittman with him when he needed a break.

    "(Jackson) got 22 touches (including one reception), so he got a little bit
    more than we wanted."

    Still, only one of those touches a 1-yard run with 14 minutes, 4 seconds left
    came in the fourth quarter. Jackson wasn't on the field for the Rams' last
    three series.

    "He started dragging (his leg) a little bit," Haslett insisted. "You could tell
    that he hadn't played in a month, and he was a little sore. I commend him for
    fighting through it and trying to get in there and play. He did a good job when
    he was in there."

    INJURY UPDATE

    The Rams came out of the game with no serious injuries. Guard Richie Incognito
    left early in the second half after taking a shot to the head on a field-goal
    attempt, but he's not expected to miss any time.

    Wide receiver Keenan Burton (knee) and defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju (neck)
    will be day-to-day this week, Haslett said. Wideout Donnie Avery (hip) might
    not practice Wednesday but should be OK.

    Also, linebacker Chris Draft, who broke a bone in his foot Nov. 2 against the
    Cardinals, will return to practice and could suit up Sunday.

    ATOGWE'S BIG DAY

    Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe was busy Sunday. He piled up 13 tackles, according to
    the coaches' film review, and forced two fumbles, one of which set up Josh
    Brown's fourth field goal.

    "O.J.'s a heck of a football player, and I think people are starting to
    recognize that," Haslett said. "The guy's a ball magnet, he does a great job
    punching the balls out, he's got great hands, and he's a good tackler."

    LONG VS. LONG

    Haslett didn't declare a clear-cut winner, but he thought defensive end Chris
    Long performed well in his head-to-head matchup with Dolphins left tackle Jake
    Long, a pairing of the top two picks in last April's draft.

    Chris Long, the No. 2 overall selection, recorded two tackles and a team-high
    three quarterback pressures.

    "The (fourth) play of the game, he got a hit on the quarterback," Haslett
    noted. "Jake's a heck of a football player, but I thought Chris did a very good
    job. He was excited about playing Jake all week."

    RAM-BLINGS

    Rookie linebacker David Vobora had 10 tackles in his first NFL start. ... The
    Cardinals (7-5) would clinch the NFC West title with a win over the Rams
    (2-10).


  2. #2
    ScottD413's Avatar
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    Re: St. Louis Rams have trouble scoring in the red zone

    On the opening possession of the game, the Rams had a first and goal at the
    Miami 7. But with Jackson having carried or caught a pass on five of the first
    seven plays, he was on the bench when the Rams reached the 7.


    This is the problem with having to depend on one player so much on offense. By the time we get to the red zone Jax is on the sidelines sucking wind because he touched the ball on every play down the field. We need a good backup option at RB for these situations

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    Re: St. Louis Rams have trouble scoring in the red zone

    Let's be honest here. The RAMS have trouble scoring from any zone!!!

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    Re: St. Louis Rams have trouble scoring in the red zone

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottD413 View Post
    On the opening possession of the game, the Rams had a first and goal at the
    Miami 7. But with Jackson having carried or caught a pass on five of the first
    seven plays, he was on the bench when the Rams reached the 7.

    This is the problem with having to depend on one player so much on offense. By the time we get to the red zone Jax is on the sidelines sucking wind because he touched the ball on every play down the field. We need a good backup option at RB for these situations
    All the talk of needing an upgrade over Pittman for these situations is nonsense ...

    It's play calling, simple as that. Watch the routes that "genius" Al has our guys running when we are the end zone. They are long developing routes, dig route types, that you should be running in open field. Why in the heck we aren't running slants, quick in and outs, and swing routes, I just don't get it. What about those darn smoke routes that we frequently use? They'd work just fine in the end zone ...

    These stupid routes Saunders has us run are simple to defend. The defense just sits back in a soft zone, essentially double teaming everybody because they are taking forever to get to their spots ...

    It's really asinine. 1st down and goal and the 7, hmmm, lets run Pittman up the middle. Are you kidding me? How about a pass on first down, and then try to catch them off guard with a run on second down. I would venture to believe that very few teams ever score touchdowns between the 4 and 8 yard line, in the red zone, with running plays. These are prime opportunities for quick passes ...

    Could we for once abandon the Big formations, and go four wide outs in the red zone? Maybe the DB's will respect the wideouts when there are more than two of them ...

    Really, it has nothing to do with having a servicable backup running back, because we do. It's the terrible system. It seems Saunders always thinks we need to have receivers running tough routes to get open. What happened to the basics "genius" Al?

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