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RamView: Week 16 – Offense

* RB: On the other hand, it was a very tough day for Steven Jackson. Behind an offensive line with all the push of Pee Wee Herman on roller skates, Jackson could only muster 48 yards on 24 carries and spent a lot of the game looking like Curly Howard trying to break down a door. About the only time everybody had their act together was Jackson’s 1-yard TD plunge in the first, as he pushed in over the right side while getting a double Bush Push from Jason Smith and Adam Goldberg. That support was very fleeting as Jackson spent most of the day crashing into the pile for nothing or getting drilled by unblocked defenders. He did get to show some outside speed a couple of times, getting the corner for 12 on a flip 90 left in the 1st, and later bouncing a run outside for 4 (yes, a 4-yard run was one of his highlights), but most of his day was just failed forays up the middle. Goldberg did get him a block for a 9-yard run in the 1st, and his nifty one-handed catch (still protecting that broken hand) of a screen helped set up the Rams’ first FG. But the highlight of the day for Steven Jackson was likely a much-needed trip to the cold tub.

Rest of the offense after the jump.

* Receivers: They may never have really been missing, but Danny Amendola (8-53) and Danario Alexander (6-99) were back this week to play major roles in a Rams win. Alexander got involved quickly – try a quick screen for 9 on the first play of the game. On 3rd-and-8 a couple of plays later, Amendola fielded a shallow cross and split two 49ers for the 1st down. Two plays after that, he’s throwing an OPTION PASS off an end-around, which I believe scraped the roof of the Dome before coming down, but still drew an interference penalty when Nate Clements foolishly ran over, yes, Alexander, at the goal line. Brandon Gibson (3-69) nearly set up another score with a 41-yard catch-and-run thanks to the safety taking an awful angle on a slant pass. Laurent Robinson’s (3-25) blocking got Amendola 11 on a quick screen to set up the Rams’ 2nd FG. The Rams’ 2nd TD drive was almost all Alexander. Quick screen for a couple, then he fought through about half the 49er defense to take a rollout pass for 17. Switching to the other side of the field, he beat Shawntae Spencer deep and then outfoxed him to catch an underthrown bomb while falling over backwards for 41, a TD had his heel not brushed the sideline when he got back up. That let Robinson “vulture” the TD, but with a very nice play, cutting back inside Patrick Willis’ pursuit just as Bradford had to get rid of the ball. These guys unquestionably have their limitations. Gibson and Alexander had drops. They continue to try to use Gibson as a deep threat but he just does not show enough speed for the role. Gibson also blew what should have been a big-gaining end-around by failing to wait for Daniel Fells’ block. Amendola seems lost more than 5 yards downfield. He could have had a monster game. Bradford looked for him at the goal line a couple of times with his primaries covered, but WR and QB didn’t seem in sync. Yet, like this week, you’ll usually find these guys playing beyond those limitations, the reason I like to call them the Rams’ blue-collar players.

* Offensive line: Hoo boy. Well, let’s do these guys a favor and talk about pass protection first, since it was usually very good. Bradford was sacked only the one time, and that was a really rushed play where Patrick Willis ran in untouched. With the Rams running plenty of up-tempo offense, Bradford getting the ball out quickly, and the 49ers blitzing less than I’d expected, Bradford got a pretty comfortable ride for long stretches of the game. Sam nearly got picked near the goal line in the 3rd after Justin Smith beat Jacob Bell. About the only other time Bradford was really threatened was on his TD pass to Robinson, and that was partly because Jackson blew his blitz pickup. Run blocking, however, was an epic failure. The line was a complete mess except for a couple of good blocks by Adam Goldberg. Patrick Willis and Justin Smith are guys you want to make sure you get blocked every play, aren’t they? Yet time after time after freaking time, the o-line let one or the other get to Jackson UNBLOCKED. Jackson got stuffed for no gain in the first after Jason Boo-Hoo-Hoo-I-Can’t-Concentrate-While-Mildly-Cajoled-By-Chiefs-Fans Brown let Willis go right by him. Then it’s Smith with a free run UP THE MIDDLE at Jackson a few plays later for another stuff. Brown and Goldberg failed on their blocks to get Jackson stuffed and kick off a 3-and-out in the 2nd. Next drive, Jackson’s stuffed on the edge by Willis, who’s UNBLOCKED, then loses FIVE more when Goldberg worthlessly gets blown up by Ray McDonald, and Takeo Spikes, who luckily was UNBLOCKED, helped clean up. The Rams tried to run again in the 2nd half, but quickly, and wisely, gave up. Jackson got stuffed once after Bell let Smith get to him UNBLOCKED, and got stuffed out on the right edge as the line got no push. Bell later killed a drive with a chop block. Then we get to the final 2:00, where the Rams need to be able to run to grind out the clock. But Jackson takes another huge loss after JUSTIN SMITH GETS TO HIM UNBLOCKED. The middle of this line is bad enough trying to match up with guys head-up; they simply CANNOT afford to blow assignments OVER AND OVER the way they appeared to today. Physically, and now apparently mentally, the Rams have a Snickers bar of an offensive line: soft and gooey in the middle.

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