Like it or not, Brian Schottenheimer is embedded in Los Angeles/St. Louis/Cleveland Rams franchise history forever.
It’s fun to laugh about it now, but back then a Schottenheimer-led offense was no laughing matter. It was excruciating to watch and boring as hell. It was much like an offense you’d run during the preseason, except Schottenheimer ran it 16 weeks thereafter.
There are two moments that stick out in my mind when I think back to the Schottenheimer era as our offensive coordinator for three seasons from 2012-14. Two moments that were so obtuse, so dull-witter, so unbelievably idiotic that to this day, they bring me great pause and an acidic burning in my esophagus.
Rams vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 12, 2014
It’s 2014, the third season under then-Head Coach Jeff Fisher. QB Sam Bradford re-injured his ACL in the preseason. The Rams’ 1-4 start bloomed into a 4-6 record heading to San Diego in Week 12 with the faintest glimmer of postseason hopes on the line.
On second-and-goal from the four-yard line with nearly a minute to play, the Rams were down by three.
So, of course the Rams pass the ball.
QB Shaun Hill said, “The coaches put the ball in my hands with a chance to win the game … I let them down. There’s no way you can sit there and second guess the play-calling…”
Yes, we can, Shaun.
“If you’re going to second-guess anything, second-guess the guy who didn’t execute the play, and that’s me.”
While admirable, Hill’s willingness to take the blame isn’t necessarily fair because he was given a bad play. It’s like taking the blame for not making the game-winning shot when you were given a hunk of lead instead of a basketball.
The Rams were playing to win which I respect, but that’s where the execution was truly horrible.
The Rams’ ballcarriers averaged around 4.6 yards a carry that afternoon and while Tre Mason was the leading rusher with 62 yards (21 came from one rush), Benny Cunningham had 10 yards off three carries. Why not just give it to him again? You have Cory Harkey as a capable lead blocker. Why not use him?
You’re on the goalline. Why are you passing it at all asking Shaun Hill to win the game?!
Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 8, 2013
It’s Monday Night Football, the second and last time the Rams play in primetime in Fisher’s second year. The first time was Thursday Night Football in Week Four and the Rams were embarrassed at home thanks to a 24-point drubbing by the San Francisco 49ers as the Rams yet again under Fisher are out to a slow start at 3-4 and needing a big win over a divisional rival to keep the season from slipping away.
This time around, the Rams are keeping it close in a very thrilling 14-9 death match with the Seahawks. Former DE Chris Long made a diving sack to force the Seahawks to punt with less than six minutes left.
The Rams’ offense used their time well and managed to drive from their own three-yard line down to inside the Seahawks’ five-yard line.
Then, on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line, the Rams go empty backfield. Of course they do.
Prior to the dumbest play of the season, then-starting RB Zac Stacy rushed for more than 130 yards and averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry. During the final drive, Stacy carried the ball for eight and 18 yards, respectively, on the Rams’ four running plays. RB Daryl Richardson rushed 10 yards and four yards, respectively, the latter run getting the Rams to third-and-goal.
After an offsides negated an incomplete pass, the Rams used Richardson and NOT Stacy to run the ball on third down. No gain.
Then, on the most crucial play of the game, the Rams go with a play everyone sees coming. Instead of using any other passing play, like the playaction pass (two completions during the final drive) or the bootleg (one completion for big gain during the final drive), or even just giving the ball to Stacy (again, averaged 5.2 that night), the Rams choose to throw it from the shotgun on the two-yard line.
Thankfully, Schottenheimer is no longer with the Rams. Shortly after the 2014 season ended, Schottenheimer jumped ship to join the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs finished 85th in total team offense that season, ranking worse than teams like Georgia State, Colorado State, Duke, and Rutgers.
After a stint with Indianapolis, he’s landed in his rightful home in Seattle, where calling the wrong play is the norm.