From 82-Yards Out…Zuerlein…

If I showed my dog a box score of Sunday’s game in Miami, the result might seem even puzzling to her…for a number of reasons.

The Rams offense and the end zone aren’t getting along too well. Despite 462 yards of total offense, the Rams managed just one touchdown against the Dolphins. It’s like two magnets repelling one another. I mean seriously…462 yards of offense, and one lousy TD score to show for it? I don’t even know who to blame…so I’ll blame everybody involved.

Brian Schottenheimer has to do a better job of creatively drawing up plays, Sam Bradford must be more precise and authoritative, the offensive line can’t break down protection schemes, and earth to Steven Jackson…hello Steven are you with us?

When the Rams even sniffed the red zone, all they did was pass the football. Between batted down balls, poor route running, and the inability to get rid of the football, it led to 5 field goal chances for Greg Zuerlein. Well, Greg couldn’t quite bail out his offense for the 4th time this season. After connecting on two early, he missed consecutive kicks of 52, 37, and 66 yards.

It’s hard to blame Zuerlein. Look, he had a forgettable day…but no team in the NFL should expect to win a game when the offense can’t finish promising drives. St. Louis fans have seen this story for what seems like a decade.

This is a touchdown league. The Rams had chances to bury the home team early on, yet only managed two field goals. Inevitably, the Dolphins fed off the miscues and took a 10-7 lead into halftime. They never relinquished the lead.

The Rams defense was once again terrific allowing only 192 total yards. The Dolphins managed just a 3.9 average of yards per play, and had only 19, yes 19 yards rushing.

Entering Week 7, the Rams have ONE rushing touchdown, and it came from Sam Bradford after he somehow crossed the plane of the goal line despite his body being bent backwards. He gave the team a chance even after so many missed opportunities.

Sure enough, the defense forced a punt, but the offense started at their own 3-yard line thanks to a holding penalty on Josh Hull. Hull had two penalties on special teams…perhaps the soon-to-be released Josh Hull that is.

Not even Brandon Gibson’s circus catches could get the Rams into field goal position. DE Olivier Vernon capped a career day with a sack on 3rd-and-4 at the Miami 45 yard line. Bradford failed again to recognize the pressure, and fell victim for the third time in the game.

Zuerlein’s 66-yard attempt had the distance but missed wide left and the Dolphins escaped with a victory.

5 Thoughts

  1. Janoris Jenkins is a liability returning punts. Too careless with the football and too much horizontal running. He also had a lackadaisical day at cornerback, evident by falling asleep on Marlon Moore’s 29-yard TD reception.
  2. 12 Penalties for 94 yards is inexcusable. Twice offsides, multiple illegal use of hands, illegal blocks, delay of game, holding…yuck. Sloppy.
  3. The Rams caught two officiating breaks. First, the “tuck rule” overturned a Bradford lost fumble. Second, Chris Givens sure looked like he made a “football move” before fumbling, but Gene Steratore said he never had complete control.
  4. On 3rd and short, if Craig Dahl could play press coverage instead of 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, he MIGHT have a chance to defend a short slant pass.
  5. For Bradford, there’s no replacing Danny Amendola.

I think its unfair to pummel Bradford alone. It takes 11 guys on offense to execute plays and score. But Sam, now in year three, cannot take sacks like he did at the end of the game. It’s not acceptable. The QB takes too much praise when its good and vice versa, but Bradford has to show more QB intelligence at this stage of his development.

Secondly, he under-threw several receivers downfield, and those misses become glaring when the offense has been so inept.

Finally, Jo-Lonn Dunbar is looking like a superb free-agent pickup. He’s solidified one of the two outside linebacker spots. He hits hard, and has shown the quickness necessary to stay on the field in obvious passing situations. Before Sunday’s contest, Dunbar talked about what it takes to win on the road in the NFL. I think it’s a great quote…and important for the Rams, now 0-3 away from the Dome.

“A good team travels well, good defenses travel well. That’s something we have talked about and mentioned in the linebacker room and as a defensive staff. So we have to come out this week and approach it as a ‘us against the world’ mentality, play focused, play hard and make some things happen defensively.”

Perhaps he can offer that mentality to the offense.

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