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  1. #1
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    Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/06/2005


    Make no mistake, interim head coach Joe Vitt realizes there's a problem with the running game. And he seems determined to find a solution.

    "We have got to run the ball better," Vitt said. "We've got to balance our attack. We've got to play it a special way right now because of the personnel we have, or we're not going to have a chance. We can't go into a football game asking Fitz to throw the ball 50 times a game and let him win it for us."

    Yet there was rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his first NFL start Sunday against Washington, tossing it 36 times at the Edward Jones Dome. Throw in Fitzpatrick's five scrambles, plus the three times he was sacked, and that makes 44 pass plays called by offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. And only 12 running plays.

    "It sure seemed like we could've run the ball," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "There were some opportunities there to do that. We could've gotten physical with them."

    But it never happened. Despite what was a one-possession game until 5 minutes 50 seconds remained in the fourth quarter, Rams running backs had only eight carries in the first half and just four in the second.

    The lopsided run-pass distribution was typical of this season for the Rams. They have run the ball a league-low 261 times, an average of 22 carries a game. In contrast, Atlanta, which leads the league in rushing yards, is averaging 35 carries a game.

    Despite Mike Martz's reputation as a pass-happy coach, his best teams in St. Louis have been his best running teams. The 1999 Super Bowl championship squad, the 2001 Super Bowl runner-up team and the 2003 NFC West champions all finished fifth in the NFL in rushing offense. Martz was offensive coordinator in 1999 - not head coach - but Dick Vermeil basically gave him free rein to run that offense.

    This season, the Rams rank 26th in rushing offense among the 32 NFL squads. They are on pace to finish with only 348 carries, which would be the second-lowest total since Martz started running the offense in 1999.

    The 2002 Rams had only 343 carries - and that squad finished 7-9, making it the only Rams team to have a losing record and miss the playoffs since Martz started calling plays. This year's team is headed down the same path, with a 5-7 record and little more than a mathematical chance to make the postseason.

    So in St. Louis, at least, there's a direct correlation between strong running games and strong won-lost records. Even after getting stuffed on the ground in two of their past three games - losses to Arizona and Washington - the Rams are still averaging 4.2 yards a carry. That's the 10th-best total in the league. So why not run more?

    "You've got to stick with it," Timmerman said. "You've got to be committed to it, and you should pop one. I know there were a couple plays (against Washington), I think it was to the left side, where Steven (Jackson) almost had a breakout. Somebody made a good tackle and we didn't get the breakout.

    "But you have to be committed to it, stick with it in blitz situations, and you're going to pop one. Unfortunately we didn't break a big one."

    Despite those comments, Timmerman said his intention wasn't to second-guess the play-calling of Fairchild.

    "Because we should've executed what he called better," Timmerman said. "I think everybody's got to be character guys and look at themselves and say, 'Hey, I could've played better. I could've done this better.' And assume their percentage of the responsibility."

    For example, on the Rams' first running play of the game, Jackson ran off left guard with Rams blockers facing only a six-man front. The Washington defense was spread out because the Rams were in a three-wide-receiver alignment. But Washington got penetration, forcing Jackson wide, where Redskins tackler Phillip Daniels was waiting. The result was a 2-yard loss.

    "We wanted to run the ball," Vitt said. "But I tell you what, every time we tried to run the ball, they were in the backfield. And that's just the truth. Pretty soon, you're just wasting plays. Minus 1. Minus 1. Plus 1. Now it's third and 9."

    Actually, in that sequence, it would be fourth and 11. But you get the point. Rams running backs combined for only 12 carries for 27 yards against the Redskins, with Jackson getting 11 of those 12 attempts.

    "The numbers don't lie," Vitt said.

    Even so, Vitt wants Fairchild and the rest of the offensive staff to tweak some X's and O's to give the Rams a better chance to succeed on the ground.

    "We've got to take a hard look at what we're doing schematically," Vitt said.


  2. #2
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    It's pretty pathetic when you have 5 RB's on your roster, including a future Hall of Famer, and former first round pick and you can't run the ball. :tut
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


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  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    I'm all for this strategy, but what's the point in announcing it mid-week? Just to appease the fans?

    Wouldn't it be better to announce "we're gonna pass, and pass some more" and then come out running?

  4. #4
    Tailgage-Mayor Guest

    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    He's stating the obvious, and to some extent playing up to the fans. Vitt is probably distancing himself from Fairchild knowing that Fairchild and most of the staff will get the short haircut at the end of the season. Vitt knows he has no chance at the head coach position, so he's trying to save his job as a position coach.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    I think that taking on the interim head coaching job this season has made Vitt the "assume the position" coach.

  6. #6
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    I remember Martz saying that the best time to run was during the blitz.

    Ah, but the QB can't audible in this offense if he reads blitz. Does the offense have a hot read to go to the run? Or is that when you burn a timeout?

    LOL

    Speaking of reads: Does Fitz have enough acquired knowledge to read the blitz and go to the hot routes?

    Funny thing is: Al Saunders is using Martz' offense better than Martz or Fairchild.



  7. #7
    Roy G. Biv's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Ah, but the QB can't audible in this offense if he reads blitz.
    He can check at the line just like every other QB in the league.
    "I'm not going to hide my opinions. They're coming to you between 7000-4000 Angstroms for all the world to see. Oh yes, you will be enlightened."

  8. #8
    Roy G. Biv's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Funny thing is: Al Saunders is using Martz' offense better than Martz or Fairchild.
    Aren't you the same person who said performance is all on the players? So now, that it's convenient to rip on Martz, it's the coach getting the credit. I see.
    "I'm not going to hide my opinions. They're coming to you between 7000-4000 Angstroms for all the world to see. Oh yes, you will be enlightened."

  9. #9
    hawgski Guest

    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Run more?? Good luck against the Vikes. Pat Williams is having a Pro Bowl season, and it doesn't matter who is next to him. No chance running against the purple.

  10. #10
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Quote Originally Posted by hawgski
    Run more?? Good luck against the Vikes. Pat Williams is having a Pro Bowl season, and it doesn't matter who is next to him. No chance running against the purple.
    With all due respect, your run defense is average.......there's really nothing special about it.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  11. #11
    hawgski Guest

    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    With all due respect, your run defense is average.......there's really nothing special about it.

    In the last 5 weeks, here are the facts:

    Points Per Game
    1. Carolina- 9 PPG
    2. Chicago- 9.2 PPG
    3. Minnesota- 16 PPG
    4. Jacksonville- 16.6 PPG
    5. Indianapolis- 17 PPG
    6. Tampa Bay- 22.4 PPG

    Avg. Yards Allowed
    1. Carolina- 243.4 YPG
    2. Chicago- 263 YPG
    3. Jacksonville- 273.4 YPG
    4. Minnesota- 283 YPG
    5. Indianapolis- 289.2 YPG
    6. Tampa Bay- 327.4 YPG

    Avg. Pass Yards Allowed
    1. Carolina- 148.2 YPG
    2. Chicago- 157.4 YPG
    3. Jacksonville- 199.6 YPG
    4. Minnesota- 205.8 YPG
    5. Indianapolis- 207.8 YPG
    6. Tampa Bay- 208.4 YPG

    Avg. Rush Yards Allowed
    1. Jacksonville- 73.8 YPG
    2. Minnesota- 77.2 YPG
    3. Indianapolis- 81.4 YPG
    4. Carolina- 95.2 YPG
    5. Chicago- 105.6 YPG (no, that's not a typo)
    6. Tampa Bay- 119 YPG

    :tongue:

  12. #12
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Quote Originally Posted by hawgski
    In the last 5 weeks, here are the facts:


    :tongue:
    Congratulations on your 5 week run. For the season, your run defense is ranked 18th, and as I said before, quite average.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  13. #13
    hawgski Guest

    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Congratulations on your 5 week run. For the season, your run defense is ranked 18th, and as I said before, quite average.
    You are correct, for the season we are average. It did take a while for all of our off season additions to gel, I am glad they are doing it at the right time.

    I mean, we have faced Tiki Barber, Samkon Gado, Rueben Droughns, etc. and held the TEAMS to under 78 yds. avg. per game!!!

    What is the Rams D ranked?

  14. #14
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    What is the Rams D ranked?
    Yea, like that's a standard a team should aspire to.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  15. #15
    hawgski Guest

    Re: Vitt says Rams will run more, pass less

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Yea, like that's a standard a team should aspire to.

    What do you mean?

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