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RamView: Week 15 – Part 8

Coaching: The defense held Houston to 16 points but still lost the battle today in that they couldn’t come close to containing Johnson and couldn’t sack Schaub and may never sack another NFL QB ever AGAIN. They had the most, and a lot, of success against Johnson with a safety rolled over to his side, but Houston won out with the number of times they were able to get Johnson matched up one-on-one. They forced some of that by using him out of the slot, but got plenty of one-on-one opportunities split wide, too, something I’m not sure why or how the Rams could let happen often. Steve Spagnuolo and Ken Flajole and company had better take big steps this offseason towards fielding a defense that can sack the QB next year. Blitzes were ineffective, and the only trick up their sleeves these days seems to be the 4-DE pass rush, which wasn’t even that today with Little out. The failure of the Ram pass rush is one of this season’s biggest disappointments.

More coaching after the jump!

I like a lot of what Pat Shurmur called on the offensive side today, though. The 4th-and-1 swing pass to Jackson was the gutsiest call of the season. Jackson’s big screen pass late in the game was a well-designed play. So was Amendola’s TD. The Rams originally tried to hurry the play, only to have Ed Hochuli hold up the game for Houston, “to match up”. Shurmur used a tricky pattern to get Amendola lost in trips formation and free for the TD. He took some shots downfield and called a game that showed some trust in his receivers instead of confining them to a 10-yard box. So now I’m going to be a hypocrite and ask if the end zone pass on 3rd-and-4 from the Houston 14 in the 2nd was really the right call. My initial reaction was to like the killer instinct the call showed. Now I wonder if it cost them 4 points not to just go for the first down there. Last, why does this offense do nothing but implode right after every halftime? The Rams have not scored a third-quarter TD all season (even against Detroit). Who’s advising this staff on adjusting quickly and effectively to changing conditions, General Motors?

The main game management question today’s going to be whether the Rams should have punted on 4th-and-10 at their 48 with 2:39 left. Back in week 2 of 2007, Scott Linehan went for it in very similar conditions against the 49ers and failed. Punting didn’t work out for Spagnuolo here, but I’m still fine with the decision. The Rams had been stopping Houston on the ground; had they done it one more time, they were looking at getting the ball back around their 35 with 2:00 left. Ryan Moats’ first carry after the punt killed that hope, though. I apologize to Coach Spagnuolo for lumping him in with Linehan there. The Rams may come out worse in record this year than any of Linehan’s seasons, but they’re light-years ahead in team character and attitude. The rookie head coach has excelled at getting all his guys rowing in the same direction. Next year, set that boat on a course for a bunch of wins.

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