Another week, another frustrating Rams defeat. In what has become the norm in St. Louis, the Rams have started each game of this young NFL season fairly strong on both sides of the ball. QB Sam Bradford started 6 for 6 from the field against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday and led the Rams to a quick 7-0 lead. RB Steven Jackson was a load, breaking off several runs of over 10 yards in the first quarter alone. Defensively, the Rams blitzed and picked up a couple of timely sacks on Raider QB Jason Campbell, who clearly didn’t look in sync throughout the first half and was eventually replaced after halftime. But it is at halftime where something seemingly goes wrong, as an entirely different Rams team came out for the second 30 minutes. A Rams team that looked slow, indesisive and completely lacking in drive and enthusiasm. They looked like they had given up, plain and simple.
Who gets the blame for this? At some point, critics will have to turn from just simply blaming everything on an overall lack of depth and talent and start taking a closer look at this coaching staff. This game is all about halftime adjustments and it looks like from week to week, those necessary adjustments just aren’t being made. Yet Oakland did it on Sunday. The Raider coaching staff recognized that Campbell wasn’t getting it done, so he’s replaced by Bruce Gradkowski to start the third quarter. Gradkowski went right to work, converting several key third downs and along with RB Darren McFadden, eventually wore down the Ram’s defense. A defense that again, was flying to the ball in the first half, but was clearly exhausted and not nearly as quick and opportunistic after halftime. Simply put, this defense was on the field way too long in the second half, thanks to an inept offense both from a performance and play-calling standpoint.
But while there is potential in the defense, this Rams offense continues to look very vanilla in it’s schemes. Why the Rams coaching staff won’t at least attempt to stretch an opposing defense with some down field throws remains a mystery. Speaking of stretching a defense, where is WR Brandon Gibson, by the way? Granted, the O-line is not giving Bradford any time to throw, thus making five-step drops almost an impossibility. Opposing defenses will continue to focus on Steven Jackson, especially on first and second down and force the Rams into third and long. Having said that, the Ram’s wide receivers certainly aren’t known for their ability to separate, but can’t they at least attempt some sort of down field pass of over 30 yards and open up this offense?
At this point, what is there to lose?
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.