LA Rams offense lacks improvisation, which leads to their downfall
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams offense and Jared Goff struggle in the most basic of ways sometimes. But is it an unimaginative QB or a controlling head coach/play caller?
The LA Rams have a glaring weakness. We’ve talked about it before several times. Six months ago, we noted the lack of offensive improvisation, and called up head coach Sean McVay to use the lessons of 2019’s failures to design a better offensive plan in 2020. Just two days ago, we were back at it again. This time we weren’t assigning blame as much as pointing out a glaring weakness of this Rams offense.
The Rams seem to be unable to diagnose when the defense has their game plan figured out. Whether a lack of talent, lack of imagination, or fear of the unknown, the LA Rams offense is critically deficient at improvising to win football games. Until now, we have diagnosed the problem, presented our case, and have been confident of our analysis.
HOF’er Warner confirmed our fears of this offense
In a recent NFL Network discussion over the Rams failure to defeat the New York Jets, Andrew Siciliano and Kurt Warner talked about the Rams offensive woes. Their discussion began with various scenarios where the Rams could lock up a playoff spot without playing a game. If the Arizona Cardinals win, or the Chicago Bears lose or tie, the Rams will win a playoff berth.
Warner diagnosed the Rams offense just as we have done so. The Rams offense is designed to run and play/action pass. But when the Rams fall behind, the offense switches to a drop-back and throw type of offense, which it is not built to do. In that scenario, quarterback Jared Goff must drop back and read the defense instantly, and then throw to the open receiver. Unfortunately, the defense that placed the Rams into that situation has already proven to get to Goff instantly.
Goff, McVay, plan, or all three?
He has no time to throw. That is the problem. And yet the Rams react by placing quarterback Jared Goff into situations with less chance to succeed, rather than change the offense to help him make plays. So that means something is not working. And yet, if you watch the games, you wonder why the Rams simply do not rush the ball more to slow down the pass rush?
The quick and easy out is to blame Goff. After all, some had blamed Goff for throwing a pick six against the Jets (he didn’t) or by claiming that Goff’s interception led to the Jets first touchdown (it didn’t). Goff is the scapegoat now. If the defense plays poorly or if special teams misfires, social media roars a consensus thumbs down on Jared Goff. It’s almost automatic now.
Rams choose to see what they wish
Then there is head coach Sean McVay. The personnel packages and the play by play game is on him. While the guy is a savant at designing successful plays, the disconnect appears to be ignore how the other team is defending him. The Rams anticipated the Patriots defense defending the pass at all costs, and so they went into the game planning to use a heavy rushing offense with tremendous success. And yet, one week later, the Rams play as though they never dominated their opponent with a running game.
Perhaps the Rams should test the waters early. Start the offense in the 12 formation and see how effective that is. Then run another set of downs with an 11 formation and see how effective that is. Then simply feature the best offensive formation for the rest of the game.
Put your offense where your money is
With a high ankle sprain, Cam Akers had over 40 yards and a touchdown called back. Imagine if the Rams had committed to the running game, and had a healthy running back on the field? Winning is not about passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams should do whatever it takes to win football games.
It should not always fall upon Jared Goff to win games. The Rams have spent the 29th-most on their offensive line in the NFL. And yet, the team has spent the sixth-most on their tight ends. The Rams should leverage their tight ends now. If they commit to a strong running game, the passing game will follow. Until that happens, Goff will continue to be a sitting duck.
The Rams spent little on the offensive line this year, because the official plan was to work on balancing out the offense play calling. In the end, Goff is still Goff. McVay is still McVay. But the one thing that has changed once more is that the Rams are getting away from the running game again. And by doing so, games are getting away from them.