The 2010 St. Louis Rams offense was never going to be confused with the 1999 St. Louis Rams offense, but there was hope that the offense would improve significantly this season and certainly get better as the season went along. The truth is that it is significantly better than last season, because frankly it couldn’t get any worse. That being said after appearing to be moving in a positive direction in the middle of the season it has started sliding again. During the Rams last three games the offense has only managed 32 points. That won’t cut it for a team in the NFL much less one trying to make the playoffs.
When things go bad in football it is never just one thing there is a myriad of problems going on. Here are the five reasons I believe the Rams offense is going the wrong way.
#1 Offensive Line Struggles: Everything begins and ends with your offensive line play. The five guys up front are not getting it done right now. They are not doing a good job in either the passing game or the running game. During the past three games the Rams have given up 8 sacks and many more hurries. The interior of the line has been a little leaky all season, but now the two young tackles are also having issues. This is a recipe for disaster.
Not only is Bradford not having the time, but the offensive line isn’t getting Steven Jackson going either. Jackson did have a 102 yards against Arizona, but it was on 28 attempts. Not exactly a situation where they are making big holes. If the Rams are going to win their final two games they are going to have to handle the pressure that is going to be continued poured on.
#2 Sam Bradford hitting the wall?: There is something going on with Sam Bradford and it is not for the positive. Some have suggested that he is hitting the rookie wall and that may be the case. In his last three games he has had his three of his five worst statistical performances of the season. As a rookie quarterback he has been handed a tremendous workload and he could possibly be worn down mentally or is being worn down physically. Either way the NFL is not going to feel sorry for him. Whether it is lessening his physical workload in practice or figuring out a way to get him going again mentally there is a clear line going in the wrong direction.
#3 Wide Receiver Issues: Each and every week the Rams drop passes at an alarming rate. You can count on a drop from Brandon Gibson and Laurent Robinson every week and then you throw in a couple more from various other sources and you wind up with an offense that struggles. There is nothing the Rams can do to correct the problem at this point, but there is a lot of hidden yardage that is lost with the drops by this unit.
#4 Hoomanawanui Loss: I don’t believe that Michael Hoomanawanui is the second coming of Antonio Gates, but I do believe his loss has effected this team a lot more than any of us thought. Hoomanawanui was a security blanket of sorts for the Sam Bradford and is clearly their best offensive threat at the tight end position. There are rumblings that the Rams will get him back this week and I believe that we will see a much better offense with him in there, if he can play. He is a big target in the red zone, where the Rams have been having problems, and he helps out with the blocking, which could also be a reason the Rams sack numbers are up.
#5 Where is Danario Alexander: There still doesn’t seem to be a good answer as to why Danario Alexander seems to have disappeared from this offense again. Is he too hurt? Is he not figuring out the routes? Is Pat Shurmur just not getting the correct play calls in? My suspicion is that it is a combination of these three things. I understand not wanting to get Alexander hurt again, but if he can’t play enough plays to make a difference then he needs to not be suited up. You can’t be sort of pregnant on this thing. When Alexander plays and is truly involved in the offense the Rams are 3-0. When the Rams don’t use him the Rams are 3-8. That is a glaring stat. I understand injuries, but if you want to make the playoffs and he says he is healthy enough, then you have to play him.
Luckily for the Rams the remaining two games are against teams that are comparable to themselves. Can the Rams do enough to change things in the final two games? I don’t think anyone has that answer. It will be interesting to see how the Rams are able to handle a San Francisco 49ers defense that has played decently this season. There is a lot to fix. We’ll see how many of these issues the Rams can fix between now and Sunday.
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