Luke Treat

Treat: Rams Need Playmaker

In Columns, NFL on September 22, 2010 at 1:22 am

Here’s a scenario: Rams are trailing, with a quarter and a half to play. (Okay, that’s most of the scenarios for the Rams…) Who do they go to? Who wants to step up their game? Who wants to be a playmaker?

More after the jump…

Steven Jackson runs. Sam Bradford throws. Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola, and Mark Clayton catch. But really, only Mark Clayton catches touchdowns. The defense makes plays, but mostly in the first half. That’s what we know about the Rams through two games.

S-Jax had almost four yards per carry and didn’t find the end zone. He had some open lanes early took what the Raiders gave him, which still wasn’t much. Coach Spags was determined to pound the ball on the first two downs, expecting Sam-I-Can to make the third down play. Problem: he only made the third down play twice.

Bradford’s play wasn’t loud but it was logical, technically sound football. The accuracy he displayed in the first half falsely foreshadowed a ticking time bomb that never exploded – but rather, imploded.

Coach Tom Cable (who looks more like a crusty biker than a professional football coach) had his improved defensive unit bruising Bradford up and down the field. Bradford’s first half accuracy (the one that lied, remember?) began to shrink along with the rookie’s confidence. Bradford might have had flashbacks of his senior year injuries but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Bradford tried to be the playmaker the Rams need. The play maker the Rams have yet to find.

While the offense looks bleak, the defense has been a first half joy. (Not the kind of joy that makes you do a little dance in your living room but the kind of joy that doesn’t make you throw your remote at your TV. More of a nod and a “meh” and less of a chest bump that always results in varied lost amounts of beer.) James Laurinaitis and Craig Dahl have been the most consistent defenders, with credit due to James Hall and O.J. Atogwe too.

The Rams first half defense and second half defense need to have a heart to heart, or an after school fight, whatever floats their boat. The first half plays like pissed off brutes. The second half plays like the Jonas Brothers. In the first week against Arizona, Steve Breaston did his best Larry Fitzgerald impersonation. Last week against Oakland, Louis Murphy and the Polish Wonder, Bruce Gradkowski, enjoyed the Jonas Brother’s latest concert.

Coach Spags needs to find a playmaker. Is it S-Jax? Is it Amendola, Robinson, or Clayton? You’re guess is as good as mine. But Bradford can’t do it solo.

The first step in getting S-Jax going is finding that “change-of-pace” back. Kenneth Darby certainly isn’t the answer, and Keith Toston hasn’t touched the ball this season. History shows that S-Jax breaks down if he doesn’t get any relief. The offensive line hasn’t been great but it’s been good enough. If the Rams can find a guy to give Jackson some time to stop sucking air, the Rams will take the first step getting S-Jax to the launch pad.

Donnie Avery’s absence has hurt the vertical passing game. There isn’t a receiver on the depth chart that has the big play potential that Avery provided. The most consistent receiver thus far is the guy that has spent the least time with the team. The Bradford-Clayton connection showed promise in the opening game but stalled last week in Oakland. Amendola is a poor man’s Wes Welker and would be best used in the slot — something Spags has to do more. Robinson has the size and athleticism to be a big target for Bradford, but can’t seem to find openings in the coverage. He needs to decide if he wants to be a big boy receiver.

Daniel Fells has been overwhelmingly better than the guy ahead of him, Billy Bajema. He had a “helluva” juggling catch that led to a 36 yard gain. Spags could better use him by motioning him around the formation, and hitting him on short to intermediate passes. He has the speed and hands to even motion over to the slot and provide mismatches on the linebackers.

The Washington Redskins are coming to the Dome next week. They have plenty of playmakers on their offense. The Jonas Brothers need to go back to melting the preteen hearts instead of suiting up for the Rams defense in the second half. The Rams need to find their guy on the offensive side of the ball. The guy that opposing coaches lose hair, sleep, and youth in their face about. The guy that Bradford can trust in the fourth quarter. The guy that we all continue to wait for.

  1. Its still early- week three. The player egos are still trying to sync. One will move to the spotlight. I think the Head Coach needs a good on-camera cry.

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