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RamView: Week 17 – Coaching

The biggest game of the season, and the Rams looked about as prepared for it as they were to give birth. How many times did Ken Flajole’s defense bite on play-action from one of the league’s worst running teams? And though I didn’t recognize Whitehurst as a running threat in my scouting report last week, I didn’t scout him any worse than the Rams did, as they turned him into Steve Young, scrambling away eight times for gains. Spagnuolo claimed all week the starting Seahawk QB didn’t matter because the Rams would be defending their system. Yet Matt Hasselbeck has always taken off and ran a few times a game against the Rams. One might say that’s in their system! The Rams: clueless. And unprepared. They sleepwalked through the opening series to give up a TD (the winning margin, unbelievably), and guess what got burned on Martin’s 61-yard catch: a zone blitz! Once they got that big slap in the face, the Rams D and Flajole did appear to wake up. Blitzing was very effective the rest of the way and Flajole seemed to call them at the right times. Other than the ongoing ridiculous notion that C.J. Ah You provides anything at DT, Flajole adjusted after a bad start and got his unit mostly back on track.

Rest of the coaching recap after the jump.

Go back to just about any RamView this season; I’ve tried to be understanding toward the much-maligned Pat Shurmur. I’ve tried to see the good in what he’s trying to do with the Ram offense or the reasons he had to run the offense the way he did. But tonight, I don’t know what the hell he was even trying to do, and I doubt that he knew, either. It’s inexplicable he wouldn’t trust Jackson in the biggest game of the season against a terrible run defense, but I don’t know what else to think. What in the blue hell are you doing running Laurent Robinson on an end-around at the end of a quarter in which your Pro Bowl RB has had exactly one carry? I’m not as mad about the failed Karney 3rd-and-1 as everyone else; that play usually works. I’m frustrated, though, that every week this season, Shurmur calls for Jackson to slam into the A gap 20 times a game waiting for it to work, and this week of all weeks, the play actually works, and he quits going to Jackson! The one play the Seahawk defense didn’t show it could consistently stop, and Shurmur stops running it! Greg Olson – remember him? – somehow found a way to beat the feared Seattle pass defense for 5 TD passes last week; a week later, it takes Shurmur nearly three quarters to get the courage to chuck the ball more than ten yards downfield against them. Then again, I guess Shurmur doesn’t have feared receivers like Maurice Stovall or Dezmon Briscoe or Preston Parker or Ben Obamanu or Ruvell Mother Freaking Martin, does he? How can you trust Bradford enough to take the game out of Jackson’s hands and put it into his, then not trust him to throw anything downfield for almost 45 minutes? Frankenstein’s monster was less ill-conceived than today’s game plan, and came to a happier ending. Seattle played to win; Shurmur played to… I have no idea what. Ensure he won’t be hired by the Browns this offseason, I guess.

I’ve heard more than once that “the moment was too big” for the Rams tonight. I understand that sentiment and hate it at the same time. Steve Spagnuolo, Shurmur, Flajole, they’ve all been in playoff games (I know, not in their current roles); if I’m not mistaken, they’ve all been to Super Bowls. Yet ask them to prepare the Rams to beat an inferior, poor opponent in a playoff environment, and we get this? A flat-footed defense? An offensive game-plan that’s a recipe for mediocrity? Putting players in position to fail rather than succeed? Gack. This staff had a decent 2010 season until today nearly completely refudiated it for them. They’re doing a fine job developing a roster from the ashes of the Linehan Era. I only worry what’ll happen if they don’t advance as a staff as well as the players do.

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