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RamView: Week 17 – Part 8

Coaching: I really did not understand Steve Spagnuolo’s 4th-down philosophy today. 4th-and-1 at our 42 early in the game, we’re going for it. 4th-and-2 at the 49er 11 down 7-3 late in the game, we’re kicking the FG. 4th-and-18 from our 27, down 21-6, we’re going for it. Hell, we’re even burning timeouts. Then 4th-11 at our 25 down 28-6, boom goes the punt. The postgame radio show linked the Rams’ quitting in the 4th quarter to the moment Spagnuolo chose to kick down 7-3, and that’s hard to refute. There’s little reason outside of abiding admiration for Ndamukong Suh not to go for it there. Spagnuolo has to let go of a lot of his conservatism of game management next season. The great ones didn’t get there without taking intelligent risks. That conservatism pervades the offensive game plan, where Pat Shurmur’s still calling two-yard smoke routes on 3rd-and-6 or running Jackson up the middle three straight times after a big play. The staff reminds me of when you’re first starting to drive and you think you’re moving along really fast, then Dad tells you to look at the speedometer and you find out you’re going 30.

Coaching may be overrated in the estimation of how games are won and lost, but it’s fair to demand the coaching staff show a tangible positive effect. Spagnuolo has done that this year as a leader. His team has played hard all season with the exception of about a quarter. They’ve been in games they probably didn’t deserve to be in. They’re on the right track motivationally. Pleyer development looks like it’s getting there. All of the draft picks improved as the season went on. Special teams have gelled into something, well, special. The team’s getting there developmentally, though with the glaring exceptions of WR and RBs to back up Jackson. But they’re getting there. They need to get there strategically, too. Step on the gas next season, Coach.

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