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A simple plan

Another Sunday looms, and for us Rams fans that means it's another week of `ifs' as we look forward to another chance to put that first tick mark on the other side of the ledger.

Every week and every opponent provides a different set of circumstances for the Rams, a different defense and a different offense with their own quirks and foibles and strengths and weaknesses for us to examine and map out a plan for what we think is the best approach for the Rams to take.

"Pass more. Solid execution is a must. Establish the running game. Protect Bulger on the pass." It's almost to the point where you can post the same game preview week after week, just changing the opponent's name in each write up. (Of course, if you did that, you could be a national football columnist or commentator. Maybe you could even work at ESPN, if you could stomach the endless litany of punctuating one liners.)

This week, though, the perfect summary of what the Rams should do as well as what's wrong with the Rams has already been posted over at SBN's fine Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles. And Sunil said everything that needs to be said in one sentence, one bllody sentence to sum up the Rams 2007 season.

"Despite their offensive DVOA of -22.3%, they are capable of putting up a substantial number of points."

The mystery that plagues analyst and casual fan alike, summed up nicely in a single sentence.

At times this season, the Rams offense has shown flashes of the potential we all expected from it, in various parts of the Cleveland game, against the 49ers early in the season, and against the Cardinals. You can't refute the fact that injuries, particularly on the o-line have been a factor in the stalled offense, but the flashes of production that we've seen provide more than enough evidence to exonerate the replacement parts o-line for the total collapse of the offense.

As we've said before, a lack of originality in the play calling - no doubt affected by the injury limitations - has been an obstacle for the offense this season. In the wake of the Cleveland game, we discussed Linehan's decision to try and stuff Leonard up the middle on 4th and 1 with the box clearly stacked to prevent that exact move while the right side of the field was guarded by just one defender.

Execution has also retarded the Rams offense all season. The link in the previous paragraph points to a post where we also touched on the turnover outcome that's done more than anything to thwart scoring opportunities, particularly the interceptions. However, as the post also notes, Bulger and Co. did a much better job preventing those by getting back to solid fundamentals in their play, i.e. familiar routes, reasonable 3-5 step drop backs, and reading plays well enough to know when to throw the ball away.

The R&R from the bye and a week off should help, in theory, to clear everyone's head of all the detritus of 0-8 and allow players to get back to the unthinking, basic execution required to play mistake free football. That's the first step in salvaging some pride out of a season that is itself ready to be scrapped.