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RamView: Week 13 – Part 8

* Coaching: I used to have goldfish. Once when I moved them to a larger tank, they were too stupid to realize it for a long time. They stayed in the area of the small tank and swam around in circles, without the will to do anything different. They only figured out they had more room by accident. There’s my insight into the mind of Pat Shurmur, who again this week was apparently unable to even conceive the idea of stretching the field, or trying anything different, keeping the passing game in the small tank for pretty much the first 58 minutes. Shurmur is Jerry Rhome all over again. It’s little surprise the Rams were a woeful 2-for-14 on 3rd down; nearly every 3rd-down pass was thrown short of the needed yardage. (Please take the naked bootleg out back and shoot it, huh?) The Rams especially weren’t going to get away with that with Jackson off the field for almost every 3rd down, about the most knuckleheaded way possible to manage his injury. So Shurmur was darn sure to use Jackson when he had him on the field, handing off on 1st down about 75% of the time. Jackson was a respectable, though highly unofficial, 18-95 on 1st down, despite the Ram offense’s high predictability making him easier to stop. If only there were a way to fake the other team into thinking Jackson was going to run. You could loosen up the defense. Make the safeties worry about more than the Rams’ in-over-their-heads receivers. You could keep him on the field on 3rd down and make the defense account for him, with minimum additional injury risk! Great Amos Alonzo Stagg’s ghost, how could a football team pull off such a miraculous deception?

Why don’t the Rams use more play-action? You, I, Trent Green, Dick Stockton, were all begging for it. Steven Jackson was begging for something; you could see him yelling at the sideline at one point. Richie Incognito  got in a shouting match with Shurmur. The players don’t believe in the game plan; is that enough for everybody? The Rams have the ideal person in the NFL to set up a lot of play-action and appear to run it very little, which baffles me. Its benefits would have seemed obvious by Week Freaking Thirteen. No, Shurmur would rather hand off on 2nd-and-22, throw useless 7-yard slants on 3rd-and-19 (that one turned into the fumble returned to the Ram 15), or hand off on 3rd-and-11 inside the opposing 40 to preserve the field goal opportunity. Yeah, the Rams have bad receivers, bad tackles and a bad second-string QB. But none of them are helped by the near-absences of balance and deception in the offensive play-calling. Are the Rams that much worse than Oakland? They’ve beaten Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh this year. The Rams have to abandon all hope against 4-7 Chicago?

More coaching after the jump!

Defensive coaching is way ahead of the offense, though I fail to comprehend why the Rams have NO defensive back capable of turning and finding the ball. I swear I saw some run blitzing this week after pleading for it last week, like the 3rd-and-2 where Dahl dropped Forte for a  loss early in the 2nd. Ironically, as Trent Green pointed out, they got burned big on plays actually designed to fake Cutler into checking down, but unlike the offense, the defense appeared to quit trying what wasn’t working. As far as game-management, I don’t disagree with the FG on 4th-and-goal late in the half. You would hate to come away without a score after your first good long drive, and the Rams were getting the ball back after halftime. I wanted Spagnuolo to fire off some timeouts after Cutler’s fumble after the FG. Not sure if that’s too much killer instinct on my part or not enough on the Rams’.

But Steve Spagnuolo’d better change something here, quickly. The apparent player revolt at the revolting offensive game plan isn’t good for anyone. What this coaching staff has done best is to keep everyone on the same page and playing hard despite the record. You’d like to write off other issues as rookie hiccups. Well, we’re deep into the season now. Nobody’s a rookie any more. The coaching staff’s free pass is running out and it’s time to start earning some trust. A competent offensive game plan, and Shurmur’s capable of making one, would be a good start. Give the offense the reins or show it the whip; whatever it takes to get this horse moving.

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