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St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

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  • St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

    St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson


    There certainly were question marks. But Pat Shurmur knew when he accepted Steve Spagnuolo's invitation to become the Rams' new offensive coordinator that the key elements for the scheme he wanted to run already were in place.

    Sure, Shurmur would have to reconstruct a much-abused offensive line, and assemble a cache of sure-handed wide receivers and tight ends. But he felt that quarterback Marc Bulger and running back Steven Jackson provided a solid foundation around which to build.

    "Marc is very precise, an extremely accurate quarterback — attributes that are very fundamental to being successful," Shurmur said.

    And Jackson, Shurmur added, "is such a magnificent player, it's silly not to give him the football."

    Jackson, who will be happy to take it, said, "It's a fun offense, and it's a proven winner. As we see time and time again, teams that run this kind of offense are among the tops in the NFL when it comes to offensive statistics."

    So, just what is "this kind of offense?" Opinions vary.

    Backup quarterback Kyle Boller calls it "the true West Coast." Other observers see it as a hybrid incorporating West Coast principles. Still others say it only marginally resembles the original West Coast offense that Bill Walsh helped cultivate in the 1970s.

    Spagnuolo pleads that the West Coast label not be applied at all.

    "I know everybody's putting that tag on it because Pat came from Philadelphia and their quote, unquote West Coast," he said. "I think this offensive coach and this team will develop their own kind of offense. Will there be elements of the West Coast? Yeah. Will there be elements of some other things? Yeah.

    "It's going to be a mixture. I think it's unfair to tag it anything."

    Unlike Walsh's prototype, a pass-first, run-second approach, Shurmur seeks the kind of parity that was displayed in the four preseason games, when the Rams rushed 122 times and passed 123 times.

    "What you hope to be is balanced enough where people can't get a bead on you one way or another, creative enough where you take advantage of some things that they give you, and sound enough that when you get in those situations where you've just got to have something — whether it's a long throw or whether it's just 2 yards on a running play — that you're able to do that," Spagnuolo explained. "When you get to that point, you can be pretty good."

    The Rams aren't near that point yet. They averaged 271 yards in the four outings, the second-lowest norm among the league's 32 teams.

    Bulger asks for patience.

    Shurmur, who had been a defensive assistant with the Eagles since 2002, "is really deliberate, and he's confident," Bulger said. "He's been in this system for so long, he knows it in and out."


    Precision in the passing game is vital, Shurmur stressed, "in terms of throwing a high percentage of completions. And an accurate ball allows the receiver to run after the catch. That allows you to make a high-percentage-type throw with big-play capabilities."

    Or as Boller put it, "You don't have to always throw the ball 30 yards to get a 30-yard gain. You can throw it 5 yards and get 30 yards."

    The more receivers that are targeted, the better to stretch the field and keep defenders honest, Shurmur added — and 18 different Rams caught at least one pass in the preseason games.

    "That means the quarterback's normally doing the right thing," he said. "You expect the defense to do something, and you call a play to attack it. If you get something different, the quarterback's got to see it and execute it."

    The goal is basic: quickly get the ball into the hands of the various playmakers and let them do their thing. "The passing game is timing, and the running game is pretty much one cut and go north," Jackson said. "That's as simple as it gets."


    In 2006, the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Jackson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage, with 2,334 — 1,528 rushing and 806 receiving. For the Rams' new attack to prosper, he'll have to come much closer to those numbers than the ones he amassed in 2007 and '08, when he missed a total of eight games because of injuries.

    Simply put, the Rams' offense — no matter what you call it — won't function without a major, and diverse, contribution from the running back. "But we also need a quarterback that orchestrates it properly, we need receivers that'll catch the ball, we need offensive linemen that'll come off the ball and block," Spagnuolo emphasized. "It'll never be about one guy; Steven and I have talked about that. But certainly he's an important part of it."

    Jackson will be deployed much the same way the Eagles use Brian Westbrook, as a dual-threat rusher-receiver. That would seem to be a good fit for Jackson, who in some sets lines up in the slot or even splits out as a wide receiver.

    "A guy like Steven who's versatile inside and outside, that's what we're going to take advantage of," Boller said. "If we can get a mismatch with him on linebackers and safeties ... good night."

    An effective ground game will provide more space for the multiple receivers to slip into, as well as lure the defensive backs nearer the line of scrimmage, thus providing chances to air it out vertically.

    Conversely, a proficient, multi-proponent passing game will keep the defense from clogging the box between the tackles to combat the run.

    "In different offenses, some guys are decoys, just to open up different coverages. In this one, everyone has a good chance of getting the ball on any play," Jackson pointed out.

    Rest assured, Jackson will get the ball on many plays.

    "I'm going to do my best to be an incredible threat on the field each and every Sunday," he promised, "and trust in my teammates that they're going to do the same."
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  • #2
    Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

    Originally posted by eldfan View Post
    St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson


    The goal is basic: quickly get the ball into the hands of the various playmakers and let them do their thing. "The passing game is timing, and the running game is pretty much one cut and go north," Jackson said. "That's as simple as it gets."
    We have speedy Avery so it’s hard not to read this and get excited man I can’t wait to see how it goes.


    • #3
      Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

      This all sounds really great..can't wait until Sunday!! It might take a few games for everyone to get in sync, but I really think the Rams have some good coaches who finally have a plan.


      • #4
        Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

        Originally posted by eldfan View Post
        We have speedy Avery so it’s hard not to read this and get excited man I can’t wait to see how it goes.
        The O-line must block and block some more .. Avery may be fast, but Bulger isn't. If we can knock people off the ball and produce a respectable running game, play action will work, if not, it could get ugly early ... One thing we haven't seen yet under Spags is our starters playing 4 quarters of football. I am excited too, yet at the same time, I'm somewhat apprehensive. Sometimes I feel like that cartoon character who keeps getting suckered into trying to kick the ball only to have it snatched away at the last second ..


        • #5
          Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

          Maui's right, it all boils down to the offensive line. The offense can be perfect for everyone involved, but if the line can't block for four seconds reliably, and can't get ground in the run game, the offense isn't going to run and we'll look just like last year.
          I believe!:ram:


          • #6
            Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

            Bell has got to play better than he did in preseason. How many times did we see the rush come from inside rather than outside?


            • #7
              Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

              Bell looked good when he was sandwiched between Roos & Maewe..i know thats hardly a ringing endorsement for Bell himself but hopefully Barron and Brown can help him out when the pass rush is aimed in his direction...its pretty clear to me that Bell is not a player that is worth the salary he is on..but we can only hope that he become an atleast serviceable LG for us...i was thinking at the end of last season..maybe due to his size (or lack of) that he might be worth trying out at Centre..but the Brown move scuppered that..


              • #8
                Re: St. Louis Rams' offense is a perfect fit for Steven Jackson

                Originally posted by txramsfan View Post
                Bell has got to play better than he did in preseason. How many times did we see the rush come from inside rather than outside?


                J. Bell was hurt (sustained a concussion) on the second play of the first preseason game against the Jets and did not practice or play until the last game against KC. Whatever O-line problems we had the preseason was obviously someone else's fault as Bell was not on the field until just last week.

                However, having said all of that I certainly agree with you that he has to step it up this year or we are going to be in trouble again.

                WHAT SAY YE?


                Related Topics


                • r8rh8rmike
                  Jackson Thinks Turnover Talk Is Backfiring On Rams
                  by r8rh8rmike
                  Jackson thinks turnover talk is backfiring on Rams
                  By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
                  12 hours, 19 minutes ago

                  The winless Rams had three turnovers inside the Vikings 10 and had a fourth returned for a touchdown in last week’s 38-10 loss to Minnesota. St. Louis (0-5) has committed 10 turnovers the last three games and is near the bottom of the NFL with a minus-7 turnover differential heading into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.

                  “I think it’s one of those things that we on the field have become so conscious of and so uptight about it, that it’s backfired on us,” Jackson said Thursday.

                  Jackson took responsibility for one of the fumbles last week when he missed connections on a handoff from Kyle Boller(notes). He has two lost fumbles thus far, so this week his strategy has been one of under-emphasis.

                  “I’m going to go back to my regular routine of just playing loose and being myself and being a playmaker,” Jackson said. “I’ve never had a fumbling problem, knock on wood, and I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

                  The Rams have scored 34 points all season, lowest in the NFL. They made a lot of progress last week with a season-high 400 yards in total offense, only to be undone by the mistakes.

                  Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said ball security is discussed multiple times every day, on the practice field, in meetings, after practice when reviewing game and practice tape.

                  Eventually, the Rams expect it will pay off.

                  “We’ll point out any and all ball-handling issues,” Shurmur said. “You usually get what you emphasize.”

                  Better late than never, players believe they’re grasping the finer points of the new West Coast offense. Jackson is the focal point but several players have been getting more involved. Donnie Avery(notes) had five catches, including a 27-yard touchdown, in his best game of the season and three others caught five passes apiece.

                  If the production continues with Marc Bulger(notes) back as the starting quarterback this week, it might mean more space for Jackson. He’s been impressed with the team attitude, with players following coach Steve Spagnuolo’s credo to never look back.

                  “Guys around here feel like we’ve been putting in a lot of hard work for a long time and on Sunday things are not coming together,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of guys are selling out in practice more than we had before.

                  “I think Sunday proved to a lot of us that we can play with a very talented team, and we showed spurts of really effective football.”
                  -10-16-2009, 12:53 PM
                • MauiRam
                  NFL: Jackson is the ultimate decoy ..
                  by MauiRam

                  Dec. 03--ST. LOUIS -- Steven Jackson is willing to sacrifice some rushing yards for wins.

                  "Absolutely," the Pro Bowl running back for the St. Louis Rams said Thursday. "At this point I understand that a lot of my role now is to keep a defense honest.

                  "I'd love to get 100 yards and have a big game, but at the same time, if a defense is that focused on the running game, I think we come out with a win already."

                  What's helped the Rams go from a 1-15 record last year to a 5-6 mark this season has been the play of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford . The former Heisman Trophy winner became the first person since Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson in 2007 to be named the NFL's offensive rookie of the month in two straight months.

                  "Rookie MVP," Jackson said of Bradford. "He's putting together a nice season. We have a chance at the postseason, to win the division, and a lot of it has to do with his play."

                  The Rams played just three games in November because of a bye week, but in those games, Bradford completed 79 of 121 passes for 792 yards with six touchdown passes and only one interception for a passer rating of 96.8. He also set an NFL rookie record of 169 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.

                  "When you have a quarterback that can execute, then (defenses) obviously have to be willing to defend the pass," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "Run and pass go hand-in-hand. Sam's success playing quarterback is a big key to having success, but we have to be able to run the football."

                  Shurmur said last Sunday's 36-33 win over Denver was probably the most balanced the Rams offense has been this season. The Rams had 37 pass plays and 35 rush attempts.

                  Jackson had just 72 yards on 29 carries, and average of only 2.5 yards per attempt. He has a 3.8 yards-per-carry average on the season. Shurmur said Jackson continues to run hard, but the offense needs to "do a better job of getting yardage" on the ground.

                  Jackson doesn't mind being a decoy as long as it leads to points, citing a touchdown pass to a wide-open Billy Bajema against Denver as an example.

                  "Last week the big play to Billy was a run-action and he was wide open," Jackson said. "You have those plays because of the respect of the running game."

                  Jackson's 873 rushing yards rank 10th in the NFL. He said he is the "freshest" he's been in three years this late in the season. With only 117 yards to go, he'll have his sixth straight 1,000-yard season.

                  "I'm a little off pace from where I want to be, personally, but I'm very proud of that," he said. "Thousand-yard seasons, no matter how they come, are very impressive."
                  -12-04-2010, 12:11 PM
                • eldfan
                  Once first, now last
                  by eldfan
                  Once first, now last
                  BY BILL COATS
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  In the span of a decade, the Rams' offense has morphed from the "Greatest Show on Turf" into what a Washington Post columnist declared after Sunday's 9-7 loss to the Redskins is the "Most Miserable Mass on Grass."

                  That might seem harsh. Still, a team averaging 3.5 points per game really has no grounds for complaint. As coach Steve Spagnuolo acknowledged, "On offense, you're judged on how many points you score."

                  In a way, the deck is stacked against the regrouping Rams. They're trying to scratch out a productive attack under a first-time head coach whose background is entirely in defense, a first-time coordinator who brought in a new offense, and with an overhauled roster that is young and inexperienced in some key areas.

                  Heading into Sunday's home-opener against Green Bay, the Rams rank last in the 32-team NFL in scoring and 31st in total offense.

                  "There's numerous reasons why you don't score," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said.

                  Here are the major reasons why the Rams aren't putting points on the board:

                  RHYTHM AND TIMING

                  Just as the team was adapting to the modified West Coast offense that Shurmur imported from Philadelphia, quarterback Marc Bulger missed 3½ weeks of the preseason with a broken pinky on his throwing hand.

                  Shurmur's scheme demands precision and timing from the quarterback, and Bulger still is smoothing out the rough edges.

                  In the same vein, the offensive line — with new starters at three of the five positions — was hit with early injuries and was intact for only about a week before the season-opener at Seattle. "It's very important that linemen work together" to develop familiarity and achieve synchronization," Shurmur explained.

                  Now, that unit will be without right tackle Jason Smith (knee) on Sunday, and perhaps next week's game at San Francisco.

                  MARCHING BACKWARD

                  The offense has committed 13 of the Rams' 16 penalties, setting the team back 100 yards — the length of a football field. "It's tough enough to win in this league without going backward," Spagnuolo grumbled.

                  Several calls came at highly inopportune moments, including guard Richie Incognito's two personal fouls vs. the Seahawks. "It seems like when we do get a big play, maybe the next play we'll get a penalty that sets us back and stops our drive momentum," tight end Randy McMichael said.

                  GOOFS AND GAFFES

                  Penalties are mistakes; so are inaccurate throws, dropped passes, fumbles, erratic blocking and poor reads by ballcarriers. The Rams have been blameworthy in each area.

                  Bulger has hit on 50 percent of his passes, far below his career average of...
                  -09-25-2009, 08:55 AM
                • r8rh8rmike
                  St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson Makes His Mark
                  by r8rh8rmike
                  St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson makes his mark

                  BY JIM THOMAS
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  A day later than usual because of the bye week, the Rams looked at game film of Sunday's 17-10 triumph over Detroit. Take it from center Jason Brown, when it came to watching running back Steven Jackson, it was like watching a video game.

                  "You know on video games where they have the special moves?" Brown said. "You can hit the 'turbo' button. You can hit the 'spin' button. You can hit the 'juke' button. Well, Steven has all of those buttons. And when you think that that juice is about to run out, he will continue to surprise you."

                  Jackson had 149 yards worth of surprises against the Lions, the last 25 of which came on the game-winning touchdown at Ford Field. With the help of his blockers, Jackson was a human video game against Detroit. And Brown missed one button in his description: the "bam" button. Jackson bounced off tacklers like a pinball or ran over them.

                  "Seventeen games is a long time," Jackson said, referring to the Rams' losing streak before Sunday's victory. "And that game was too close to let get away. I was willing to just give my all. If I would have fell down in that end zone, it would've been worth it. I was willing to give everything I had to make sure we won the game."

                  Brown says quarterback Marc Bulger helped stoke that competitive fire in the huddle at the start of that game-winning drive.

                  "It started with Bulger," Brown said. "He was stroking Steven's ego a little out there. He said, 'Hey guys, you've got the best running back in the league. You all do your job, he's definitely going to do his job.'

                  "And you know what? That last drive we just kept pounding the rock."

                  These days, few in the NFL pound the rock as well as Jackson. At the midpoint of the 2009 season, he's tied for the NFC rushing lead with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson with 784 yards. And he's tied for second overall in the NFL, trailing only Tennessee's Chris Johnson, who has 824 yards.

                  Add his 186 receiving yards, and Jackson trails Peterson by a scant 3 yards — 973 to 970 — for the NFL lead in yards from scrimmage. There can be no doubting that he's at or near the top of the NFL pecking order at running back.

                  "He's a premier back," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

                  Even in the throes of a 1-7 season in St. Louis, Jackson seems to be earning respect nationwide. One such sign came at halftime of "Monday Night Football," when ESPN's Chris Berman awarded Jackson his weekly "game ball."

                  It's not as if getting a "game ball" from a studio host equates to a lifetime achievement award. But it did show that on a weekend full of highlights and big performances...
                  -11-03-2009, 11:13 PM
                • Rambos
                  Jackson, Run Game on a Roll
                  by Rambos
                  On the heels of two straight dominant performances in the running game and with the Browns’ 30th-ranked run defense awaiting in Cleveland, it stands to reason that Rams running back Steven Jackson could go for the hat trick of 100-yard games this weekend.

                  Of course, Jackson knows that will be easier said than done because time and again in his career, he’s been asked about facing a team that’s struggled against the run and then seen that team throw everything it has at stopping him en route to its best run defense of the season.

                  “Story of my career,” Jackson said. “When certain teams come to town, certain players come to town, statistically those things don’t matter. I’m pretty sure that all week they’ve been game planning and knowing what they like to do, especially having (Head) Coach (Pat) Shurmur over there. He was personally with me for two years, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be up for the challenge and the test. I don’t look at 30th, being ranked 30th saying it’s going to be an easy Sunday. It’ll be a very challenging Sunday.”

                  The basic premise of Jackson’s thesis is that teams that have struggled against the run, when faced with a team that features the running game so prominently, will often do everything in its power to force the other part of the offense to beat it.

                  In this case, the Browns have struggled some against the run and have been outstanding against the pass (ranking first in the league). For their part, the Rams have been riding a healthy Jackson the past two weeks and he’s rewarded them with 289 yards and two touchdowns combined.

                  There’s little doubt that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the offense will again look to Jackson to carry the load this week and to setup quarterback Sam Bradford and the passing game for big plays.

                  “You want to keep it going because as the running game goes, I believe this team and this offense goes,” Jackson said. “We need to continue to be productive in that area. I think it will open up things, especially for Sam and the receivers which allows for us to have some big plays.”

                  So why, after the running game couldn’t quite get on track in the first part of the season, has it begun to take off?

                  The reasons are varied though it starts with Jackson getting back to full strength and being able to again take on a full workload.

                  After battling a quadriceps injury suffered on his season-opening 47-yard touchdown run, Jackson has been rounding back into form since the bye week.

                  Of course, it hasn’t hurt that the Rams have been able to stay in games and stuck to the run more since they haven’t had to play catch up as much.

                  “So far these last two weeks the games have been close, more opportunities to be honest with you,” Jackson said. “The more we can wear on a defense and the game is close or we’re in the lead, it allows for us to pound away...
                  -11-14-2011, 06:05 AM