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Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

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  • Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

    You snooze, you lose; watching the Rams, it's easy to do both

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/07/2009

    CHICAGO — I don't know about you, but I can't watch this anymore. This isn't football; it's anesthesia.

    The Rams are supposed to be running a West Coast offense, but I think someone forgot the "offense" part. I don't see anything "West Coast" about it, either. The West Coast passing game was developed by the late genius, Bill Walsh. The Rams are more of a Bill Murray offense. Something has gotten lost in translation.

    Despite having possession of the football in the Bears' backyard for much of Sunday afternoon, the Rams crawled their way to a tortuous demise, managing only three field goals in a 17-9 loss to the unimpressive home team.

    At Soldier Field, the Rams were tin soldiers, slowly marching in formation and getting wiped out before they could make it to the end zone. The visitors were staked to exceptional field position and managed to have the ball on the Bears' side of the field nine times in 13 possessions. The Rams ran 34 of their 65 plays inside Chicago territory.

    This game had a claim ticket, but the Rams passed. Or actually, they didn't pass — the ball, that is. The Bears stacked the line all day, and frequently played one safety high. That's an open invitation to throw a forward pass down the field. But the Rams wouldn't dare think of doing anything radical like that.

    This would require creativity.

    And imagination.

    And nerve.

    Have you seen much evidence of that at Rams Park?

    Actually, I should apologize to Rams special teams coach Tom McMahon. He designed the most inspired offensive play of the Rams' season, that wonderful fake field goal that went for the winning touchdown pass in Detroit. And that's still the only victory in this dreadful 1-11 season.

    Maybe they should put the special teams coach in charge of the red-zone offense. It couldn't get any worse.

    The Rams have completed only 14 of 42 passes in the red zone this season.

    In this day and age of marvelous passing attacks — the leather helmets went out a long time ago — how is that even possible?

    Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur won't be confused with "The Most Interesting Man in the World" from those Dos Equis beer commercials, that's for sure.

    Shurmur is running the murmur offense.

    Sunday he called for 28 Steven Jackson runs and a bunch of dink and dunk passes that wouldn't faze a high school defense.

    The Rams dressed five wide receivers for the first time all season.

    Why, was this a costume party?

    I have no idea why they put five wideouts in uniform. The Rams didn't spread the field, they didn't try to make the Bears pay for assigning everyone except the Chicago Police Department to stop Jackson. The Rams attempted only 16 throws to the wideouts, and the longest completion went for 21 yards. The Rams finished with 98 net yards passing.

    And the Rams are averaging 11.5 points a game, the lowest over 43 seasons of NFL football in St. Louis.

    I know the Rams are limited in talent. Still, there's no reason to be so futile in the passing game. And head coach Steve Spagnuolo doesn't disagree.

    "I wouldn't say limited," Spagnuolo said. "We have NFL players out there who know how to catch the football. Kyle (Boller) knows how to throw it. Our offensive linemen can block. We need to make those particular plays."

    Here's what I don't understand: Why don't these coaches try to take advantage of the defense smothering Jackson? I give Shurmur and Spagnuolo credit for establishing Jackson as a force; SJ39 had 112 yards rushing Sunday and is up to 1,232 yards for the season. But the Rams should be able to exploit the defense's obsession with Jackson.

    For instance: Where are the play-action passes? How many times have we seen the Rams fake a handoff to Jackson to get the defense moving the wrong way, then burning 'em with a pass?

    It isn't a part of their plan. And that's incomprehensible. We're talking Football 101 here. But when I asked Spagnuolo about the play-action fakes, he suggested that the Rams can do more damage against the anti-Jackson defense by continuing to run Jackson. Interesting. Worse, Spagnuolo also suggested there are no plans to change their ways.

    "We'll go back and re-evaluate it," Spagnuolo said. "But the one thing about the eight-man fronts and them packing it in, is when you get most of it blocked and you make one guy miss, there's not much left there. The other side of the coin is, when you do spring it you spring it big. I'm not going to go too far off of what we are and what we're trying to develop here. But I understand what you're saying. I do."

    I find it a little unsettling that the Rams' coaches are so inflexible. You have to make adjustments in football. You have to adapt. You can't be so stubborn — especially when a thin talent base prevents you from lining up and having your way with opponents.

    And when a play clearly isn't working — like that stupid and predictable roll out to the right, where the Bears were waiting for Kyle Boller every time — you have to dump it.

    The Rams aren't talented enough to impose their will. You have to keep foes guessing, and pop some surprises. Didn't the coaches learn that from the fake field goal in Detroit?

    The Rams coaches seem to think this is 1909. Maybe they'll go with the single-wing formation. Maybe they will, in fact, play in leather helmets next week in Tennessee. In less then a decade, this franchise has gone from Kurt Warner football to Pop Warner football. Boring.

  • #2
    Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

    Actually, I should apologize to Rams special teams coach Tom McMahon. He designed the most inspired offensive play of the Rams' season, that wonderful fake field goal that went for the winning touchdown pass in Detroit. And that's still the only victory in this dreadful 1-11 season.
    winning touchdown pass? if it was the winning pass, how comes the game was tied at 10-10 before Jackson scored on a run late in the fourth quarter? Bernie could at least do some research, but i thought every Rams fan would be able to remember the circumstances of our only win this year, let alone the guy who follows them for a living
    @EssexRam_

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

      This is a very disturbing article. I actually agree with what Bernie is saying...



      And the part where Spag's gives his insight...it is very troubling.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

        Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
        This is a very disturbing article. I actually agree with what Bernie is saying...



        And the part where Spag's gives his insight...it is very troubling.
        Good article I'd have to agree with it and about the only thing I can come close to disagreeing with Spags is just about this offensive play calling...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

          The truth hurts.....


          That's an article the entire RAMS coaching staff should read. If anything it would get them mad and hopefully they would respond.


          We need to get creative especially on the offensive side of the ball!
          sigpic :ram::helmet:

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

            so much for the GSOT days... I heard one of the commentators saying we're the " Saddest mass on grass" ....

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

              Ugh...as much as I hate to admit it, he does bring up some good points. We need more play action for sure. We're not fooling anyone anymore. And I also agree that it's enough with that little rollout to the right play that got Avery the touchdown a couple of weeks ago, but has stalled out since.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

                This article reads more like Bernie's attempt at a stand-up routine more than anything else, but that's not to say he doesn't make some solid points in the process. The thing that I find perhaps most disturbing is...

                For instance: Where are the play-action passes? How many times have we seen the Rams fake a handoff to Jackson to get the defense moving the wrong way, then burning 'em with a pass?

                It isn't a part of their plan. And that's incomprehensible. We're talking Football 101 here. But when I asked Spagnuolo about the play-action fakes, he suggested that the Rams can do more damage against the anti-Jackson defense by continuing to run Jackson. Interesting. Worse, Spagnuolo also suggested there are no plans to change their ways.

                "We'll go back and re-evaluate it," Spagnuolo said. "But the one thing about the eight-man fronts and them packing it in, is when you get most of it blocked and you make one guy miss, there's not much left there. The other side of the coin is, when you do spring it you spring it big. I'm not going to go too far off of what we are and what we're trying to develop here. But I understand what you're saying. I do."

                I find it a little unsettling that the Rams' coaches are so inflexible. You have to make adjustments in football. You have to adapt. You can't be so stubborn — especially when a thin talent base prevents you from lining up and having your way with opponents.
                Spagnuolo's response to that question doesn't sit right with me. I mean, he may have a point in that, if everyone is crowding the line and you get everyone blocked and SJ breaks through, there isn't much else for him to beat. But that being said, I really don't understand why you wouldn't make teams pay for crowding the front by going to something else in your arsenal and stretching the field a bit more. Then you wouldn't have to worry about blocking 8-9 man fronts perfectly because, if successful, you might not see them as much.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both

                  We need to get creative especially on the offensive side of the ball!
                  This is especially true when you have players coming and going all season. Being creative doesn't necessarily mean complicated, either. Just mix the plays up once in a while. Sheesh...Can't we just mutiny and take the team over ourselves?
                  Always a Rams Fan............

                  Rex Allen Markel

                  Comment

                  Related Topics

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                  • r8rh8rmike
                    Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo
                    by r8rh8rmike
                    11.02.2009 10:06 am
                    Give Game Balls to Jackson, Spagnuolo
                    By Bernie Miklasz


                    Greetings. Sorry that I didn’t write immediately after Sunday’s 17-10 Rams victory in Detroit, but I’m feeling better today, so let’s have at it:

                    * This one was for Steven Jackson: I wonder if we realize how difficult it is to be a standout running back on a bad team. Not only a bad team, but one with an extremely limited passing attack. It means that every week the opposing team has one goal in mind: stopping the running back. Taking away the Rams’ only real playmaker on offense. Jackson gets ganged up on every week. But Jackson continues to trample the odds. After a command performance in Detroit, Jackson is tied for second in the NFL in rushing and is second in the league in combined yards from scrimmage. He’s averaging 98 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per carry. He’s giving the Rams 122 all-purpose yards per game. And he’s been at his best when the Rams make it close — when everyone in the house knows he’s going to get the ball. This season in the 4th quarter when the Rams are in a close game — within a seven-point margin, up or down – Jackson averages 6.6 yards per carry. He’s been at his best, overall, in the fourth quarter, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He breaks down those defensive stacks.

                    But Jackson’s attitude and professionalism have been as impressive as his running. He’s been a total team player in 2009. A positive influence in every way. Someone who tries hard to keep his teammates fired up. Someone who refuses to dwell on any kind of negativity. Jackson just keeps pressing on, running through the fog of losing, trying to desperately to break through to the sunlight..

                    * This one was also for Steve Spagnuolo: As I wrote in Saturday’s “Bits” column, it’s too soon to make any conclusive judgments about Spagnuolo as an all-around head coach. Way too early for that. Frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can take a stand — pro or con — on the guy so far. There are some things that I really like about him; there are some things that give me concern. He’s never been a head coach before. He’s working his way through this. And he’s learning to be a head coach as he cleans a mess created by the previous regime at Rams Park. You think that’s easy? But I was happy to see the man get a win in Detroit. I was happy to see him rewarded.

                    I repeat: Spagnuolo’s overall steadiness and consistency in dealing with his players is a real plus in this situation. No gimmicks will turn around years of roster-management incompetence and losing. There are no short cuts on the long road back to being a respectable franchise. Spags has a message and stays on it. He refuses to let any player drift away from the cause. Spagnuolo is from the Dick Vermeil school of positive thinking. There is nothing wrong with that. Too many fans think head coaches are supposed to put on a show by hollering...
                    -11-02-2009, 10:58 AM
                  • r8rh8rmike
                    Where's The Rams Coaching Staff's Fire?
                    by r8rh8rmike
                    12.09.2009 4:30 pm
                    Where’s the Rams coaching staff’s fire?
                    By Andy Dapron


                    **DISCLAIMER: I KNOW STEVE SPAGNUOLO AND HIS COORDINATORS ARE ROOKIES AT THEIR POSITIONS. I ABSOLUTELY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY BELIEVE THAT SPAGNUOLO HAS DONE GOOD THINGS FOR THE RAMS, PARTICULARLY IN HELPING THE TEAM CONTINUE TO WORK HARD AND PLAY HARD DURING A DIFFICULT SEASON, AND IN STABILIZING THE ONCE DYSFUNCTIONAL ATMOSPHERE AT RAMS PARK. THE RAMS ARE LACKING IN TALENT, SPAGNUOLO AND HIS STAFF DESERVE MORE THAN ONE SEASON TO UNDO THE MESS THAT IS RECENT RAMS FOOTBALL, AND GIVEN THAT TIME, THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO ACHIEVE SOME GOOD THINGS.**

                    There. I’ll put that out there first, because it’s true, and because I know that those points are bound to be made in response to what I say next.

                    To repeat a familiar refrain, there has been a lot of talk lately, by me, by all the beat writers and the columnists, by the network commentators, the play-by-play men, and all the other talking heads, about the competitive fire of the Rams players. They still have it, everyone insists. In spite of the eleven losses and all the struggles, we’re still getting effort. We’re still getting intensity. We’re just not getting wins.

                    Fair enough. Since being torched 42-6 by Indianapolis in week 7, only once has a game felt like it was never really within the Rams’ reach. That was last week against Seattle, and the Rams did show some measure of resiliency this week, playing a terrific game on special teams, holding the Chicago ground game to 3.2 yards per carry, and limiting the Bears’ offense to 248 total yards. The Rams have every reason to have checked out by now, but they’re still hanging around in these games. So, I’ll buy that the Rams players are still giving everything they’ve got.

                    After watching Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Bears, I wonder if the Rams coaches are matching that fire.

                    It’s an odd thing to question. Players usually reflect their coach’s mentality. And I’m not suggesting for a minute that that Rams’ coaches don’t to get off the snide as badly as the players do, or that they players aren’t inheriting that little bit of grittiness that’s allowing them to hang in these recent contests from their coaches, particularly Spagnuolo.

                    But, I do feel like the coaches are lacking a winner’s mentality, especially when it comes to play-calling.

                    The Bears game was the perfect example. Despite a game in which the offense produced no touchdowns and only 233 total yards, including an absolutely paltry 98 yards passing (Not even 100 yards! Wow!), this game was right there for the Rams the whole way. One big play might have been enough to tie this game and force overtime. Two big plays, and maybe the Rams leave the Windy City with their second victory.

                    Instead, the Rams seemingly deny themselves the opportunity to make a big play by refusing to even test...
                    -12-10-2009, 12:11 AM
                  • r8rh8rmike
                    Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways
                    by r8rh8rmike
                    Loss is disturbing in many ways

                    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
                    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                    11/30/2009

                    From the moment Steve Spagnuolo was hired as the Rams' head coach to partner with new general manager Billy Devaney, I've preached patience. The new leaders were put in charge of cleaning up the NFL equivalent of a toxic spill. And it would take a lot of time, hard work and smart decisions to get it done.

                    Those who thought the Rams had a chance to win between seven and nine games this season and contend for the playoffs were more delusional than optimistic.

                    I didn't expect much, and I'm not asking for much.

                    All I wanted to see, really, were signs of progress in 2009. And shouldn't this team be getting better, even if the gains are incremental and modest? Instead, the Rams are getting worse. Is there any justification for that?

                    With Sunday's 27-17 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks, the Rams became the first St. Louis NFL team to post a 1-10 record after 11 games in a season. That covers 43 seasons of St. Louis NFL football, 28 with the Cardinals and 15 with the Rams.

                    This was a winnable game. It was sitting there at 7-7 in the second quarter, and the Rams were only down by seven late in the third quarter. The Seahawks came into The Ed with a 3-7 record and didn't appear to be highly motivated. But as most opponents do, the Seahawks pounced on the Rams' mistakes and sloppy play and bullied the Rams with a physical rushing attack. Taking over, Seattle opened a 17-point lead before the Rams scored a so-what TD with 44 seconds remaining.

                    The Rams had shown improvement by losing in overtime at Jacksonville, winning at Detroit, and taking the undefeated New Orleans Saints down to the wire with a chance to win. But the Rams didn't build on that brief spell of not-so-hideous football.

                    Instead, they're regressing.

                    And I don't think that's acceptable.

                    "This game was a big step backward," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "I think we've got a long way to go, so we can't afford to take these steps backward."

                    Agreed. After the game, I asked Spagnuolo if he thought his Rams were slipping and getting worse. After saying he wouldn't cite injuries as an excuse, Spagnuolo sort of did just that.

                    "The one thing we've got to remember, and I'm not going to use this as an excuse, so bear with me here," Spagnuolo said. "But we have gelled. Since the first time we played Seattle (in the season opener) until now, I believe it's a different football team.

                    "But we're fighting some injuries right now at some key positions. So the dynamics of working together and getting better and better at certain things, maybe it takes a step back. But this is professional football and guys got to go in there and play....
                    -11-30-2009, 05:39 PM
                  • r8rh8rmike
                    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB
                    by r8rh8rmike
                    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

                    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
                    Monday, November 28, 2011

                    If it's Monday, it is time for another edition of Necessary Roughness.

                    By now everyone who paid even scant attention knows that Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams' coaches had a brutal day on the sidelines during the 23-20 giveaway to the Arizona Cardinals. So if you'll excuse me, you won't find a lot of play-by-play in this here blog. I'll try to offer some stats to back up some points and expand on what we already know.

                    Let's begin ...

                    * Big changes at Rams Park are inevitable. I don't need to write a grandstanding column demanding a regime change; the team's chronic losing makes it unavoidable. This sad, sorry state of affairs will lead to dismissals. That's life in the big leagues. Coaches and GMs simply don't last beyond a certain period of time when their record is bad and getting worse.Stan Kroenke knows that. He doesn't need me or anyone else to tell him that. Unless, of course, he wants to kill off fan interest.

                    * The sad thing about watching Spagnuolo coachis his obvious loss of confidence in the offense. Pardon the cliche, but Spagnuolo is playing not to lose instead of playing to win. With a 2-8 mark before Sunday's debacle, and with a 10-32 overall record as HC, why be timid against Arizona? The situation demands boldness and aggressiveness. As a coach, if you're headed to an almost certain termination, why not take your best shot and go down fighting? Spagnuolo, of course, declined to go for a first down on a couple of fourth-down, short-yardage plays. The second decision, late in the game, was indefensible. The Rams punted and never got the ball back.

                    * The decision made no sense for two reasons1) the defense hadn't stopped AZ on the ground all day; and (2) among the few things the Rams have done reasonably well under Spagnuolo over the last couple of years is convert on fourth-down gambles. This season the Rams are 3 for 5 in converting on 4th and 1; over the last two seasons combined they're an outstanding 9 for 11 in picking up the 1st down on 4th and 1. That includes going 7 for 9 when running the ball in 4th and 1.

                    And this isn't a matter of simply handing off to Steven Jackson every time; the Rams have utilized other backs, with success, in gaining the necessary ground on these third/fourth and shorts. Jackson's short-yardage numbers are decent but nothing special. But that's why coaches get paid to be creative. You can still run the ball in these situations without being entirely predictable. Anyway ... with the game on the line, Spagnuolo ignored the positive history. He backed off. He surrendered the football. The HC made a powerful -- if unintended -- statement about his lack of faith in this offense. And by coaching so nervously, Spagnuolo dropped to 2-9 this season and 10-33 in...
                    -11-28-2011, 02:34 PM
                  • Nick
                    Bernie Bytes: Rams not smart with Jackson
                    by Nick
                    I don't know that I've ever agreed with a Bernie article more than I do this one. I feel like I should be calling a hotline so someone can talk me back to sanity, but I think he really nailed this one. Love the Hanifan comments....
                    -01-04-2011, 04:48 PM
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