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Does Jeff Fisher Really Run The Ball?

Steven Jackson. Daryl Richardson. Zac Stacy. Tre Mason. Trey Watts. Todd Gurley. With that kind of talent, why don't the Rams run more often?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Picture the Rams offense in your head. Now picture what the Rams offense would be if they could actually move the ball. In your second mental image, are you picturing a smash-mouth football team? You should be. If not, you certainly aren't Jeff Fisher. At least, that's what he keeps telling fans.

But does history back up that image? Does Jeff Fisher historically run the ball, or is his word as shaky as Sam Bradford's ACLs? With that in mind, I spent Monday night making these amazing tables for you to look at.

When it comes to offense, whether we want to admit it or not, there IS a team framework for what the Rams are trying to accomplish.

The Seahawks.

In the last two years, the Hawks have been to the Superbowl twice. They've run the ball 54.21% of the time. That's a very high number, partly because the NFL media rules don't suspend players for not talking, but also because when they throw the ball, this tends to happen. Have the Rams under Fisher come close to this ratio? Did the Titans/Oilers?

And most importantly, does it even matter with Fisher? Let's dig into some numbers...

With the Rams

Year # of Runs # of Pass Attempts Run/Pass % Win %
2015 410 557 39.8% 50.0%
2014 426 506 43.4% 37.5%
2013 395 515 45.7% 43.8%
2012 39 59 42.4% 43.8%

Above is Fisher's entire tenure with the Rams (including two games we've played in 2015). I'm not going to try and dig that deep into the statistics (I'll let you do that in the comments), but here are a couple of things that you might notice quickly:

  • The Rams have never come close to Seattle's run/pass percentage.They also have never had a winning season.
  • Not even Sam Bradford tearing two ACLs, Steven Jackson (2012) or five drafted RBs in this timeframe could get the Rams over a 50% run/pass ratio.
  • Brian Schottenheimer does a fantastic job boosting the stock of opposing defensive coordinators.

But, before we try and draw conclusions, let's remember the facts. The Rams likely would have been a dumpster fire in NFL Europe in 2011, so it's not as if they could have ran the ball over 50% of the time and magically been a playoff contender each year after. On the other hand, they aren't that far away, so maybe a little more information helps?

Here's Fisher's offense with Houston Oilers Tennessee Titans:

With the Titans and Oilers

Year # of Runs # of Pass Attempts Run/Pass % Win %
2010 406 474 46.1% 37.5%
2009 499 476 51.2% 50.0%
2008 508 453 52.9% 81.3%
2007 543 464 53.9% 62.5%
2006 469 447 51.2% 50.0%
2005 397 594 40.1% 25.0%
2004 420 589 41.6% 31.3%
2003 486 502 49.2% 75.0%
2002 511 500 50.6% 68.8%
2001 468 515 47.6% 43.8%
2000 547 462 54.2% 81.3%
1999 459 527 46.6% 81.3%
1998 462 519 47.1% 50.0%
1997 541 420 56.3% 50.0%
1996 475 463 50.7% 50.0%
1995 478 536 47.1% 43.8%

Slightly longer of a table (over/under on Fisher lasting that long with the Rams? I won't hold my breath) here, but the results are interesting.

  • The Titans only had two years where they finished with a winning record but had less than a 50% run percentage. Those years? 2003, where they had a 49.2% run percentage, near dead even, and 1999. Some of you may remember where the Titans ended up that year...
  • When his teams have run more than they have passed, he has a 79-49 record, which adds up to a 61.7% winning percentage. That's actually an amazing winning percentage, as it'd put him in the same league as coaches like Bill Walsh, Tom Landry and some guy whose last name you may recognize...Curly Lambeau.

I'm not sure how the stats factor in Steve McNair and his runs, but even with poor QB play outside of McNair (hi Vince Young!), the team made plenty of playoff runs when they ran the ball often. It's hard to point to a ratio and say that it wins games, but Fisher's offensive philosophy has a history of success...when he follows it.

The problem is that four years in, the team hasn't seemed to want to follow it. They've added plenty of runners, so one can't exactly point to that as a problem. It's not as if the Rams haven't had sixteen different starters in the offensive line in 50 games (why they can't find consistency is beyond me). It's not like the Rams have had a game-changing QB or over a dozen first and second round picks to add talent.

They simply are what they are. And what they are, as we've seen, is a team that is 'built' for the run, but doesn't run. Why they don't follow their philosophy is the ten win question.

If you know the answer, please let Jeff Fisher know.