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Ram View: Week 8 – Part VI

RamView, November 1, 2009
From The Couch
(Report and opinions on the game.)
Game #8: RAMS 17, Lions 10

* Coaching: Congratulations to Steve Spagnuolo on his first NFL coaching victory. Let’s not wait so long for the next one. The key decision of today’s game was obviously the decision to fake the FG. I sure wasn’t expecting it as a fan; when the Rams lined up to go for it on 4th-and-8, I grumbled that they’re sure paying Josh Brown a lot to not try 54-yard FGs indoors. Obviously, they’re paying him for his passing skills. I do hope we all would have liked the call even if it had failed, after the many what-did-you-have-to-lose? questions for Spagnuolo after the Jagwire game.

The rumor is false that I paid David Roach to run into Pat Shurmur on the sideline while covering a punt in the 2nd and knock some sense into him. That collision followed this sequence: Lion blitz blows up Jackson handoff for a loss; screen to Jackson on 2nd-and-14 (incomplete); 4-YARD QUICK OUT to Amendola on 3rd-and-14 (also incomplete). The Lions had just held the ball for the better part of 11 minutes; the Rams needed a lot better than that right then. They didn’t get it the next drive, either, with a pass SHORT OF THE MARKER for Avery on 3rd-and-8, but that was followed by the fake FG TD, and after that, maybe Shurmur stopped gripping his playcard quite so tightly. The Rams stayed balanced in the 2nd half, and a couple of long passes would have worked with better execution: the 2nd-and-15 bomb for Avery and the end zone pass to McMichael. I liked the expanded use of the TEs, which reminds me: the Rams need some decent TEs. In the end, sometimes football strategy really is as easy as letting your best players do what they do the best. As simple as a give-it-to-Jackson! game plan may be, I credit Shurmur for sticking with it. One thing that puzzled me: as much as the Lions like to, and did blitz, the Rams didn’t try a lot of screen passes or draws, and the ones they tried didn’t work well.

Meanwhile, Scott Linehan drove yours truly absolutely nuts with the same thing. Any time the Rams tried to blitz in the first half, here comes the screen pass to the tailback for ten yards or more, AND I CANNOT BELIEVE THE RAM COACHING STAFF IS GETTING SCHOOLED BY SCOTT FREAKING LINEHAN. Linehan also remembered how vulnerable his old defensive players were to cutback runs, fed the Rams plenty, the Rams rarely stopped it, and OH MY GOD I CANNOT FREAKING BELIEVE THE RAMS ARE GOING TO LOSE TO SCOTT FREAKING LINEHAN. The Rams stopped all that in the second half, though, I think simply by turning the blitzing dial down. Linehan certainly missed Calvin Johnson, but unlike most of his 2.25 seasons here, today it was the Rams making the necessary halftime adjustments and turning them into a win.

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