LA Rams are addicted to passing even when they shouldn’t be
By Bret Stuter
The NFL faced a number of backup quarterbacks playing in Week 10, including the LA Rams. The Indianapolis Colts played QB Sam Ehlinger. The Cleveland Browns played QB Jacoby Brissett. The Arizona Cardinals played QB Colt McCoy. The Washington Commanders are playing QB Taylor Heinicke. And finally, the Carolina Panthers played QB P.J. Walker. Of course, the LA Rams played backup quarterback John Wolford.
So how did their respective offenses help them out?
The Indianapolis Colts offense rushed the football 30 times for 207 yards. The Cleveland Browns rushed the football 24 times for 112 yards. The Arizona Cardinals rushed the football 26 times for 78 yards. The Carolina Panthers rushed 47 times for 232 yards. In the first half, the Washington Commanders rushed the football 27 times for 92 yards. Yet the Rams failed to run the football more than 20 times, asking John Wolford to throw the football 37 times. And of the 20 rushes, only 13 were handled by running backs.
The Rams seem to be unable to help themselves. Even when the offense has no business throwing the football 35+ times in a game, the offense throws 35+ times in a game. Is it any wonder why no running back has had a good game all season?
The Rams simply don’t run the football, especially when the team falls behind. The Rams had rushed the football 10 times by running backs when the Arizona Cardinals took the lead with 6:31 left in the first half. From that point on, the Rams did not use their running backs, who had been effective, for the rest of the game.
Not just an OL problem
Fans blame the offensive line, but how effective can any offensive line perform when the defense completely sells out to defend the pass? No offensive line, not even one built with five All-Pro offensive linemen, can protect a quarterback that has no respect for either the run or play-action passing.
The Rams can run. They simply don’t. Even when the game situation necessitates establishing their ground game, the Rams simply pass. There is no formula known in any data analytics realm that would lead one to believe that backup quarterback John Wolford throwing 36 times leads the Rams to victory.
Fans draw the easy conclusion that the Rams’ offensive line is bad. But how much of that ‘bad’ is due to less established talent, and how much is due to the fact that no NFL defense gives any thought to the LA Rams rushing offense? In the end, both scenarios play out just like the Cardinals versus the Rams game did. But the fix is completely different. The goal for the LA Rams is not to load up this offensive line with first-round draft picks. It’s to find a group that is cohesive and can block, then stick with them.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, plays must establish the run to make the passing game effective. From the offensive line standpoint, blocking for running plays is much easier to do. But the Rams average 17 rushes per game with their running backs. Five running backs in the NFL have rushed more times this season than the entire LA Rams running back group.
The LA Rams are dead last in rushing this season. Not solely because the offensive line cannot block. The Rams have rushed the fewest attempts than all 31 other NFL teams. And if you don’t try something, how can the team ever hope to get better at doing it?