In spite of all the things that went wrong for the Rams Sunday - should we still even be talking about it? - the play calling arguably represented the biggest torpedo that hit the ship. With 8 running plays, the Rams offense made themselves easy to defend.
Via today's Post-Dispatch, we get some insight into the MIA ground game.
The company line goes that because the Panthers were stacking the box, six running plays became passing plays. However, there's one fatal flaw with this approach. When the Panthers stacked the box, not only were they preventing the run, they were taking advantage of a weakened offensive line and coming through to put pressure on Bulger while he was trying to scan the horizon for eligible receivers. In the end, I'm kind of surprised the Rams, drawing on this approach, never got called for inelgible receivers downfield.
More short passes behind the stacked box, the kind of mid-range passes Jackson excels at, would have prevented the Panthers from stacking the box, at least to some extent, and kept the linebackers off the first wave of the pass rush. If Klopfenstein could catch passes as well as advertised, then he could have given them a real threat on option plays, getting behind the box and going for it in man coverage. Unfortunately, with Klopfenstein being a little Klop-fisted this season and the O-line being banged up, he was needed more for blocking.
The same PD story notes other ways to challenge the box, such as running he ball in 3 and 4 receiver sets or challenging the box head-on. Running through the middle has been a strength for the Rams's running game, but power tosses to the outside could have circumvented the box as well, or at least force the Panthers out of it.
This isn't going to be the last time the Rams see the box this season.