LA Rams offense must protect Matthew Stafford better in Week 10

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LA Rams News Matthew Stafford
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Saving QB Stafford

I want to emphasize the simple fact that protecting Stafford has got to be a conversation by the offensive coaching staff this week. This isn’t just something that we hope the Rams consider but is absolutely vital to the success of this team for 2021, and all future seasons.

The Rams cannot win in the playoffs without Stafford, not this year. The team’s running game is not only a pale shade of its former self, but the Rams simply do not run the ball often enough to count on it when they might need it.

I – Shotgun empty backfield

One of the strategies deployed by the Rams in the past when facing zero-cover defenses was to commit to an empty backfield. It failed because Goff lined up under center and threw the ball away.

A similar strategy with Stafford could be more effective, as long as the team employs a shotgun formation, and gives Stafford an audible designating which receiver is the instant outlet in the case of a jailbreak pass rush.

II – Two running backs

The Rams have used two offensive weapons in the backfield. Historically, that has been a wide receiver lining up as the power back, and have used that formation to place a receiver into a route, into a run, and event to block.

Now, the team should include big old burly running back Buddy Howell in those formations. Howell is 6-foot-1 and weighs 225-pounds. He makes more sense to use against the more physical 49ers defense. And the Rams could use the same options of pass/run/block with him that they had assigned to either Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods.

III – 12 personnel package

The LA Rams have signed tight-end Kendall Blanton to the 53-man roster now, so why not take advantage of him? Blanton is a towering 6-foot-6 262-pound blocking tight end whose size rivals that of some offensive tackles. Putting him on the line of scrimmage and blocking inwards allows the Rams to seal off the edge and give a speedy running back like Darrell Henderson a chance at a big gain.

But Blanton could be a good target for the passing game as well. His size allows Stafford to throw him a jump ball where only he can reach up to catch it. The Rams were incredibly in December 2019 under similar circumstances, pairing Johnny Mundt with Tyler Higbee to provide a stronger running game. Sometimes the best tricks are the familiar ones.

IV – Use more offensive linemen

The Rams’ current 53-man roster boasts 10 offensive linemen. Why not make use of some in jumbo run packages to run the ball in short-yardage? Pick a large offensive lineman like 6-foot-7 285-pound offensive lineman A.J. Jackson, and bring him in as an eligible receiver. Then, simply outnumber the defenders on the line of scrimmage.

For an added twist, practice a pass or running play to the guy, just to keep the defenders honest. If Jackson won’t work, then integrate a former offensive player like Michael Hoecht, who was a running back at one point.

Big bodies should be the rule, not the exception, in short-yardage for the Rams offense this year. Four methods to help max-protect Matthew Stafford in Week 10. Will the Rams make any adjustments for this week?  Well, history does not give many reasons for optimism. But hopefully, the Rams try something new for a change.

LA Rams offense must protect Matthew Stafford better in Week 10. If they fail to do so, the team may not have a healthy Stafford to lead them in the NFL Playoffs.

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