Unfortunately, sometimes the score doesn’t tell the whole story.
Aside from the score, two numbers really stood out from the game on Saturday night. The first was time of possession where the Rams were thoroughly manhandled 34:41 to 25:19, and the second is total net yards where the Broncos more than doubled up St. Louis 446 to 198.
While these are just numbers, they do point to a larger problem which is the fact that the Rams were just 2-for-13 on third downs. Moving the chains is critical in every game, and a lack of success on the ground will prevent an offense from staying on schedule. When looking strictly at the production from running backs, the Rams had 16 carries for 48 yards on the night for a spot on 3.0 yards per carry average.
That’s not exactly staying on schedule.
These numbers aren’t really all that different as last week’s game saw just 18 carries for 38 yards by the running backs. St. Louis did start the preseason with some optimism for the running game as their tussle with the Cleveland Browns saw a 20 carry effort yield 88 yards for the backs, but that seems like a lot longer than two weeks ago after watching the past two games.
What makes this extra concerning is the fact that the Rams are trying to establish themselves after Steven Jackson moving on to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. Daryl Richardson is expected to get the lion’s share of the carries, but Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy also figure to get some touches as well. This running back by committee approach is ideal when positive yards are gained to keep guys fresh and moving forward, but the perpetuation of a lack of success can be just as impactful in the opposite direction.
Quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to have the best season of his career in 2013 with his most skilled complement of weapons ever and his second year under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s tutelage. If the running game can’t gain some more traction going forward, however, it could be another miserable year for Bradford as the Rams offense threatens to become predictable.
It’s unlikely we’ll get another look at the first-stringers on offense again before the regular season begins, so hopefully the team can iron out the issues in practice and get the offensive front opening more holes for the backs. Otherwise the Rams could have a rough first year on offense with life after SJ39.