Health has been a main area of concern for the St. Louis Rams on offense as the season’s second half gets underway, but they also need to see some real improvement in the red zone. This team has the second worst conversion rate inside of the opponents’ 20-yard line in the league with just 39 percent of those trips resulting in scores.
Keeping things in-house is Head Coach Jeff Fisher’s modus operandi when it comes to problem solving and this issue is no different. According to Fisher: “I’m not going to go into detail about it, but we’ve addressed it. Typically speaking, when you emphasize something, you typically get results. We’re going to continue to emphasize it until we do. That’s what we’re doing out here. You can see we spent a lot of time down there.”
As mentioned above, the Rams’ 39 percent rate is only ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs in the red zone stat department. The league-wide average is converting at a 52 percent clip.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola will be returning to the lineup this week and that will certainly help the offense in moving the chains, but even he didn’t make the team much more effective in the red zone. The only thing that can accomplish that is if the Rams go back to their roots and run the ball more often as was expected coming into the season.
Sure, recently the club has been in the trailing position quite often and when forced to play from behind, teams tend to throw the ball more often. Still the identity of this team was supposed to be a run-first mentality and for the most part, the running game has been absent. Steven Jackson is on pace for the worst season of his career statistically and the young backs (Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead) haven’t fared a whole lot better.
Sticking with the run regardless of the score will be key as the Rams have thrown the ball 32 times in the red zone while running it on just 17 occasions. Especially down on the goal line, the Rams tend to throw the ball as within three yards of the goal line, the team has yet to call a running play this season.
Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers begins the second half of the year and likely a new look for the Rams on offense. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said: “I think we need Steven Jackson for a game like this. It’s going to be a physical game. Again, a fresh, full-speed Steven is a good thing. It’s obviously troublesome for any opponent.”
With the team regaining its health finally, it is time to focus on what really ails the Rams as the year progresses. This team is building for the future and establishing a balanced attack with a clear identity is vital. Improving these red zone statistics and getting a team that is more effective offensively will facilitate a much more positive outlook moving forward.
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