Nov. 25, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: St. Louis Rams quarterback (8) Sam Bradford against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
In the early portion of the season, this young Rams team often pondered over how to win games late. It was as if the Rams were in a boxing match exchanging blows toe-to-toe, only to absorb a nasty right hook that ultimately led the judge to select the opponent in a unanimous decision.
Well, as of late, St. Louis has found themselves with a 3-1 record in nail-bitters.
But you’re walking on thin ice playing that way in the NFL.
Slow starts have plagued the Rams in their last four games dating back to the second game against Arizona. The stagnant approach of the offense finally caught up to the Rams as they quickly fell into 30-7 hole against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.
In these last four games, St. Louis has been outscored 60 to 21 in the first half, while exceeding in the second half, outscoring their opponents 63 to 18. Yardage wise, the Rams have been outgained 732 to 515 in the first half while racking 862 yards to their opponents 585 yards in the second half.
And to mention the Rams have committed four turnovers in the first half compared to zero on the second half.
This Jeckell and Hyde attitude of the Rams has to stop, but how?
It easy to say that the Rams should pick up the pace and become more uptempo with Bradford, but then cries of running the ball with Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson would spread like wildfires. Bradford’s three touchdowns and a career high of 377 yards pass were misleading to say the least.
After jumping out to a comfortable 30-7 lead, the Vikings were able to pound away with Peterson and play zone a little bit more. Minnesota still dialed up a few blitzes as the Rams made a futile comeback attempt.
Is it the play calling?
Most teams in the NFL have a 10 to 15 play script consisting of plays the teams like to run and successful plays on third downs. Speaking of third downs, in the Rams last four tightrope games, they are 16 percent on third-down in the first half compared to 37.5 percent in the second half.
Brian Schottenheimer and the offensive staff needs find more creative ways to move the ball in the air, as well as the ground. Ideally, Chris Givens should benefit from a healthy Danny Amendola as he handles all the short work opening up the deep airways. With only two games remaining, St. Louis needs to deploy second round wide receiver Brian Quick after his spectacular catch in the endzone.
Igniting the offense early is essential for the Rams in their final two games as they look to finish the season on a high note. Both Tampa Bay and Seattle will feature power running games with Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch respectively. The Rams may use the same tactic of playing ball-control offense to keep the two backs from gathering steam, but look how that game plan worked against Peterson.
Luckily, Martin and Lynch are no Peterson.