Rams Offense off Track
What has gone wrong?
At the start of the 2015 season, many Rams fans were excited for the new football season to begin, even in spite of the speculation of a potential move to Los Angeles. The Rams coming off the heels of an 11th straight losing season, this was suppose to be the year thing chaged, the year of the Rams. The trade acquisition of Nick Foles and drafting Todd Gurley to go with a dominate defense. Every fan was anticipating a playoff run in Jeff Fisher's fourth year with the organization.
Now at this time the St. Louis Rams have a 4-8 record and are coming off a five game losing streak, with three of the five games the Rams getting blownout in those matchups. So you ask, what has gone wrong? The answer to that question is the same answer that it has been since 2012...OFFENSE, OFFENSE, and more OFFENSE.
Under Jeff Fisher this offense has been very disappointing. Now we as fans have always given him an out; "He doesn't have the talent, the quarterback is hurt, he is still building this team give it time, etc". With this regime being in it's fourth year and Fisher having the all the players he wanted. There is still no change offensively. So let's dive deep into the offensive makeup, see what is wrong and how it can change.
Last year fans and media blamed all the offensive woes on now former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Sure his offense was very vanilla and had no creativity at all but, he also didn't have a lot to work with. Nonetheless the Rams released him wanting to go in a new direction. They interviewed a few candidates, one of those being Adam Case (former OC in Denver). The Rams were unable to sign Gase and decided to promote from within, making for the first time in his career Frank Cignetti the new offensive coordinator. Jeff Fisher hired Cignetti as the Rams quarterback coach back in 2012. This was a head scratcher for many outside the organization but, we as fans were so happy that Schottenheimer was gone that we didn't bother to think- "is this guy any better"? "Will he be more creative with this offense"? None of us really asked these questions.
The other mistake Coach Fisher made was not getting enough experienced talent on this offensive line. Fisher wanted to go with the run-first model for the offense. And that's not a bad model. In order for that scheme to be affective, you better have a solid offensive line. This coaching staff missed out on signing some key free agent, probowl talent. Former 49ers left guard Mike Ipauti comes to mind. Now let me say this, I understand these guys are free agents and they choose what is the best situation for them. Maybe the Rams didn't have the money to sign him. Maybe he thought he would have a better chance at winning a championship with the Arizona Cardinals. I have also seen teams make such a case to a free agent that they feel like they can't turn it down. I know its not my money but, I would have loved to see the Rams outbid the Cardinals for this guy. They also missed out on resigning Joe Barksdale. That money they didn't use on him they used to sign Nick Fairly (backup defensive tackle). A position they did not need to add on to. But they decided to go young with very little to no experience on the offensive line.
With that philosophy that puts your offense behind the 8-ball. When you draft most of your offensive line, yes they grow together and gain experience with each rep. But when you have injuries, which are bound to happen especially in the trenches. Its a sign of disaster because you have to bring in the backups that are in the sameboat but with less reps. Now you have what has happened to the Rams now, pressure on your quarterback and the running game is struggling. Which makes the passing game non-existent.
And last but not least is the quarterback play. Nick Foles was brought here in a trade (Sam Bradford going to the Eagles). Foles play has been less than stellar. Okay it has flat out been garbage. Is it all on him? No, not at all. Everybody has played a part in this mess of an offense. But Foles plays a position where its your job to make everybody around you better. Now he started the year well through the first 4 weeks of the season. Leading the team to big wins over division rivals Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. Then they went to Green Bay and he got beat up for 4 quarters by the Packer defense. He has not been the same since that game. He is constantly throwing off his back foot, not going through his progression fast enough because he is looking for pressure, missing wide open receivers, there are a list of things that are bad. We may have to come to grips that Nick is not the QB to take this team where it needs to go. He may for right now be broken physically and mentally.
How can it be fixed?
Now that we know there is no chance of the Rams are going to the playoffs (unless they were in the nfc east). How can they fix this offense next season? They have already fired Frank Cignetti, but he was not the only problem. Do they draft or sign a new quarterback? Get some experienced veterans on that offensive line? Obviously they will sign a new OC. Or do they fire Jeff Fisher and just start a new year with a new coach? Only time will tell, and the Rams still have four games left to end on a positive note. One thing is clear, with this being the 12th consecutive non-winning season, and fans getting tired of seeing the same sad movie year after year. Something has to change quickly for this team. Its time for this Head Coach to make an impact offensively, like he has made defensively. If it doesn't change, you will have key players on this team looking to play else where and you will have a lackluster fan support where it be in St. Louis or Los Angeles.