When Jeff Fisher joined the Rams, expectations were mixed. Throughout the 2012 season, the Rams faced inconsistency, injuries and a lack of execution. These issues hamstrung the Rams, and led to a 7-9-1 record.
Flash forward seven weeks into 2013. Noting has changed.
I'm Not Going to Say Martyball, But...Martyball.
The Rams had a revelation two weeks ago against Jacksonville. Brian Schottenheimer, to his credit, abandoned a spread-type offense that was simply too taxing on the Rams' underwhelming receivers and went with a smash-mouth, conservative "Martyball" style attack. It worked.
This of course, brought discord to some of the new additions. The Rams used the run effectively and switched to the pass on occasion to keep the offense balanced. This called for steady receivers, who opt more for possession, dependability and a knack for blocking.
Thus, the fans saw more of Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis and Corey Harkey. Tavon Austin can't catch, and Jared Cook can't block. This is what happens when you have a switch at the very foundation of your offensive philosophy- players become expendable.
To that point, it worked. It worked against Jacksonville, Houston, and in the first half, Carolina. The problem is that Brian Schottenheimer's love affair with that Josh McDaniel's spread attack. When the Rams get close to the goal line, he balks, perhaps too giddy to stick with what works.
With Bradford out, the Rams are in serious trouble. Despite his issues, he was the glue that held the offense together. Without him, the Rams don't have a quarterback who can throw, any receiver who can be relied upon to catch, or a proven running back to shoulder the load. It's bad.
Shit Talking 101: A Character Study
I'll let Janoris Jenkins in on a little secret: What do Steve Smith and Richard Sherman have in common? They're both good players. Janoris, like the rest of the Rams secondary, is not. When the Rams brought in new coaching to help boost their defense into the elite of the league, they blew it.
Tim Walton, a coach with extensive secondary experience, has completely botched his first coordinator job. The secondary was shaky, but dependable last year. It looks like the entire starting four could be replaced in 2014.
The team simply cannot cover, and outside of the defensive line and James Laurinaitis, no one is consistent enough to be considered safe. Alec Ogletree still falis at fundamentals, but his saving grace thus far has been his big play ability. Jo-Lonn Dunbar is a shell of his former 'roided self.
Take Ogletree's big plays away and the rookies have missed tackles, blown coverage, and turned a ferocious defense into a team that has only had one game where the opposing offense has scored less than 20 points.
With Bradford out, the Rams have a serious question to ask. What do they do? The defense isn't good enough to be relied upon. The offense, without Bradford, is a wasteland. The Rams have two options:
- Double down on Martyball. With Zac Stacy, and yes, Isaiah Pead, the Rams have two backs with enough differences in their game that they can afford to run the ground and pound.
- Wait for 2014, or let the Hekker era begin (he's the backup QB now, FYI).