It wasn't so much hubris as it was simple fact when St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and others within the organization, stated over and over again that RB Steven Jackson would be the centerpiece of the team's offense. Though lots of people took that to mean that the Rams would simply run the ball over and over again, it really meant that the most talented player on the offensive side of the ball would figure heavily into the game plan. After last week's game, Rams fans who subscribe to Zen philosophy and everyone else had to have come away extremely disappointed, not to mention out of balance.
Jackson had just 16 carries last week. That number might not be so galling if the Rams were using other players to carry the ball, but besides Jackson's 16 carries, the Rams had just two other rushing attempts. It offended the Zen sensibilities of anyone watching. What made it even harder to swallow was the fact that the run was effective, nothing flashy, but an effective way of moving the chains the whole point of the West Coast offense.Even eight men in the box wasn't a useful deterrent for Jackson. Here's an observation from Sando:
By my accounting, the Rams averaged 5.3 yards per attempt on four rushes against eight-man box counts. The average was 4.3 yards per carry on 18 rushes against fewer than eight defenders in the box.
Bernie Miklasz made a point about using the run effectively in obvious passing situations in a post from yesterday. The only thin I would add to that is what a difference it might have made by putting the Rams in much better positions on third downs, which were consistently looooong last week. In the preseason, Pat Shurmur used short passes to convert more than one 3rd-and-short situation.
This week, against the Redskins, establishing the run will be just as important, if not more difficult. Washington's linebacker aren't as elite as Seattle's, but they do have an impressive defensive line, anchored by DT Albert Haynesworth.
The Giants didn't let that stop them in their win last week over the Skins. They ran the ball 31 times, and even though they averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt, they stuck with it to move the ball. And how did they work the Redskins big guy in the middle? Consistent double teams all day, which took Haynesworth out of the play and let the Giants runners deal with the rest of the defense. That's exactly what the Rams need to do this week. Use Brown and Incognito or Bell - Brown should be ready to face Haynesworth given his statements this summer - and let Karney and Jackson move through the middle.
It's a tough matchup to be sure. It's even tougher to imagine what happens if the Rams offense looks like it did last week.