LA Rams offense eroding. Time for O’Connell to call plays

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams offense has been “figured out” twice in the past three games. Does the team’s offense need to promote Kevin O’Connell to play-caller?

Don’t look now, but the LA Rams offense is struggling. The offense is scoring 24.1 points per game. That’s only good for the 21st-ranked offense in the NFL. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals score more points. So too do NFC West rivals Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and even the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, the LA Rams have fallen into the neighborhood of the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans.

Now, before we sound the call to abandon ship, let’s look at the bright spots. The LA Rams rushing offense is good. In fact, the Rams rush for 137.8 yards-per-game, good for seventh-best in the league. The Rams pass for 258.6 yards-per-game, good enough for 13th-best in the NFL.  But scoring? The Rams were 64.41 percent effective in the red zone in 2019, good enough for sixth-place. But in 2020, the Rams have fallen all the way to 61.29 percent, and that’s just 19th-place.

Time for a cool change?

Remember when the LA Rams were the hottest offense in the NFL? That was as recent as 2018. Now? The Rams offense appears painful to watch at times.  The Rams returned practically the entire 2019 offense. So why have the Rams fallen to 20th place in terms of completion rate?  Why are the Rams 13th in the NFL in terms of passing yards per game? The Rams are 16th-ranked in terms of yards per attempt. Perhaps worst of all, the Rams passer rating has fallen to 16th-ranked in the NFL, and the team is at the halfway mark of the NFL.

Balance. The Rams emphasized balance at the beginning of the season. But it’s clear that when the Rams struggle, the Rams pass.  Even when the running game is effective, and the team is moving the chains, the Rams revert to this incredible pass-happy offense that seems to be as effective as victims in a horror movie running to the tool shed to escape the murderous evil stalking them.  When defenses can dictate the Rams plays called, perhaps the Rams need a new play-caller?

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Rams need more responsive play-caller control

Listen. The Rams offense was outcoached against the Miami Dolphins. Nothing on the planet can prevent that from occurring occasionally. But the LA Rams have no system or mechanism to jump the tracks quick enough to respond to those events. As soon as the Rams determined that the Miami Dolphins defense was stunting with zero-coverage blitzes, there are offensive strategies that can counter that defense. Instead? The Rams foolishly opted for an empty backfield. So when the Dolphins lit a defensive match, the Rams tried to put it out with a gallon of gasoline.

The scary part is, that is the predictable response to the Rams offense getting beaten early.  Rather than try new personnel packages, the Rams hunker down and begin the 8-track offensive plays to the same guys, in practically the same ways, with the same results.  Against the Dolphins, the Rams targetted WR Cooper Kupp 21 times. He caught just 11.  The Rams targetted Josh Reynolds nine times. He caught four. Only WR Robert Woods, who caught seven of eight passes, and rookie Van Jefferson, who caught both passes thrown his way, had good games.

Rams can run the ball

The LA Rams are a confident team. But they do tend to exhibit a bit of overconfidence in some games.  When offensive plays fail to deliver expected results, the Rams do not abandon them.  And when the Rams find a play that works, particularly in the running game, they tend to drift away from them.  During the game, the Rams opened a series with an 11-yard run by RB Darrell Henderson. They followed that play up with three incomplete passes.

While Kevin O’Connell may be no better at play-calling, the time has come for the Rams to make some drastic changes. Since McVay is still the head coach, he can discuss offensive strategy with O’Connell. But if the Rams are going to turn this thing around, they need to make changes now. Clearly Goff did not have a good game, but neither did head coach Sean McVay. In fact, the Dolphins dominated the Rams offense so completely that even the Rams eventual 450+ yards of offense could not bring the team any closer than 11 points.

dark. Next. Will the real LA Rams QB Jared Goff stand up?

Yes, the Rams can run the ball. They simply need an offensive play-caller willing to run the damned ball.