Rams Searching for Offensive Balance

Without a solid running game, the Rams offense doesn't stand much opportunity at protecting rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. That makes Steven Jackson's role extremely important Sunday.

The Rams called only five running plays in the second half of last week's loss to Washington, and the critics once again emerged crying for running back Steven Jackson to get the ball more.

Of course, overlooked in the analysis of the second half was that the Rams called only 15 plays prior to their last possession, when they were down by 15 points. In addition to the five runs, there was also one short pass to Jackson.

Most notably, the running game wasn't working, and the offense generally struggled with rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center and an offensive line that also has some injury issues.

Still, interim coach Joe Vitt knows the offense has to find a way to run the ball better to win games.

"We've got to balance our attack," Vitt said. "We've got to play it a special way right now because of the personnel we have, or we're not going to have a chance. We can't go into a football game asking Fitz to throw the ball 50 times a game and let him win it for us."

Right guard Adam Timmerman said of the running game, "You've got to stick with it. You've got to be committed to it, and you should pop one. I know there were a couple plays (against Washington), I think it was to the left side, where Steven (Jackson) almost had a breakout. Somebody made a good tackle and we didn't get the breakout.

"But you have to be committed to it, stick with it in blitz situations, and you're going to pop one. Unfortunately we didn't break a big one."

Exactly. Of Jackson's 11 running attempts, his longest gain was 9 yards. He was stuffed often, leading to passing downs, and when first downs aren't made, there are no opportunities for more plays.

Timmerman also acknowledged that the blocking has to be better.

"We should've executed what (was) called better," Timmerman said. "I think everybody's got to be character guys and look at themselves and say, ‘Hey, I could've played better. I could've done this better.' And assume their percentage of the responsibility."

Looking back at the game, Fitzpatrick said, "The things we were doing in the run game weren't working, and we felt like throwing the ball was going to be the best way to succeed last week. Unfortunately things didn't go our way. But I think we're going to try to establish a little bit more of a run game this week and we'll see what happens. But we're going to do whatever we can to move the ball downfield whether it be running or passing."

Added Vitt, "We wanted to run the ball. But I tell you what, every time we tried to run the ball, they were in the backfield. And that's just the truth. Pretty soon, you're just wasting plays. Minus 1. Minus 1. Plus 1."

But the interim coach concluded, "We've got to take a hard look at what we're doing schematically."

Part of that could be to do more formations and having players in motion, an aspect of the Mike Martz offense that hasn't been seen as much since he went on medical leave.

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