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The pursuit of execution

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I was reading the notes from the coaches' press conference yesterday and saw this.

From offensive coordinator Greg Olson:

"We had a couple of situations in the second quarter that really would have helped us offensively. We had two situations, one on the 29-yard line where we had an exchange in the backfield, we had an assignment error, we allowed a blitzing safety to come off the edge. That resulted in a fumble."

We discussed that play and the play of Dexter Jackson in particular in this post yesterday.

It points to flaws in execution by the players, something that happened throughout the game and has been happening throughout the season. Now, with street free agents filling it at so many spots in the lineup, poor execution is unavoidable to some extent.

Nevertheless, this troubles me because these missteps aren't just isolated incidents. The offense didn't just miss the blitzing safety one time for a costly play; they missed him on almost every series in the first half. As we pointed out yesterday, Dexter Jackson was involved in breaking up plays throughout the first half. I wondered if maybe some of the problem was the Rams lack of a heavy hitter fullback, but it turns out that the players just didn't run the play properly.

Injuries aside, problems with execution shouldn't be happening with such frequency. Go back and look at the New Orleans game or the first half of the Seattle game, the Rams, replacement players and all, played (mostly) mistake free football. And look at the results. No, with the injuries this isn't a winning football team, but picking up the slack and executing the basic fundamentals that have gotten players from high school to college and finally to the professional arena would have at least made the 2007 Rams more competitive and far more enjoyable to watch.

In my mind, the blame for constant missteps and chronic poor execution falls squarely into the lap of the coaches. Granted the injuries have taken away, for the most part, Linehan's ability to bench players; although, the team's reluctance to do anything about attitude issues with Claude Terrell until the law stepped in makes me wonder if they'd do that anyway...unless it was a less useful player like Anthony Hargrove. It makes me wonder if the Rams have started to develop (or are already deep into) a losing mindset. Motivation and execution are directly related to each other. At the very least, we have to ask why the players aren't more motivated to play their best football.