offense can really be this bad, right? I mean, they're just playing for draft position or something. Has to be it. Because otherwise, I just don't understand how the Rams can possibly be dead last in the NFL in points scored, with a truly pitiful 113 points through the first 10 games of the season. In case your brain is too scrambled from all the losing to do the math yourself, that's an average of less than eleven and a half points per game. It isn't just pathetically bad, it's inexplicably bad.
The only team even close to being as awful as the Rams offensively is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who happen to be breaking in a rookie quarterback on a terrible team. After that you have to go all the way up to 131 points scored, with Cleveland and the Colts both sitting there. Cleveland has no running game at all after a spate of injuries at the tailback position that would make a Ram cornerback blush, and Indianapolis lost their quarterback for the season. You may have heard something about it.
Key #1: Sam Bradford Needs to Step Up
Well, right off the bat we're not doing so well. In fact, watching the game tape from yesterday, I sort of had that mechanic moment, when he pulls a still-flaming piston from your engine and calmly states, "Well there's your problem."
I'm not going to try and lay the blame for the complete failure by the Rams' offense on the shoulders of Sam Bradford. A makeshift O-line certainly played a big role, as did Steven Jackson, who looked tentative waiting for the holes from said makeshift line. But Bradford has to take a fairly large chunk of the blame on this one.
For the afternoon, Bradford completed just 20 of his 40 pass attempts, one score, one pick. He did have the one really great touchdown throw early to Brandon Lloyd, a 30 yard beauty, but that was pretty much it on the positive side of the ledger. What is most telling to me isn't the interception he threw, but how he was picked off. I specifically talked about the tipped passes in my column, and Bradford's interception yesterday came on -- what else? -- a ball tipped at the line. He had several other passes batted down as well. There's some blame to be put on the O-line for the high number of tipped balls, but the chief issue is Bradford himself. He either needs to learn how to put more air under the ball out of his hand or stop locking on to targets with his eyes. One way or the other, Sam did not have a good game by any measure, and it shows on the scoreboard.
I won't bash Bradford for the two lost fumbles, though. He was running for his life for a big chunk of the game yesterday, and bad things are going to happen when your offensive tackles are both backups and neither can stop the player standing across the line of scrimmage from them.
Key #2: Takeaway Tarvaris
The Rams actually did pretty well on this one. Tarvaris Jackson, pretty much every week, rain or shine, will give you at least a handful of opportunities to pick him off. The Rams took advantage of those tendencies twice, early in the game both times, with Quintin Mikell and Chris Chamberlain each earning a pick.
I'll give Pete Carroll and Jackson himself some credit for being smarter with the ball as the game went on, but the real issue wasn't a lack of turnovers, it was the Rams' offense failing to capitalize on the opportunities they were given.
Key #3: Stop Marshawn Lynch
Another fairly solid performance by the Rams' defense. Lynch finished the day with 88 yards on 27 carries, averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt. The run defense was even better early on, stuffing Lynch time after time and giving Seattle no quarter on the ground. The problem, as seems to so often be the case with this team in 2011, was just how long the defense was on the field. With an offense struggling to even gain positive yardage on more than half their drives, the defense simply couldn't hold up forever.
For what it's worth, the pass defense ran into the same issue. They held Tarvaris Jackson largely in check, particularly early, but the sheer amount of time spent on the field eventually led to just enough mistakes to allow the Seahawks to put up 24 points. In the first half, though, the Ram defense did a fantastic job of holding Seattle in check.
In the end, there's no getting away from the brutal performance by the offense. The Seahawks held the ball for ten full minutes more than the Rams -- and honestly, it felt even more lopsided than that -- despite turning the ball over twice and running up 13 penalties for 100 yards. The Rams managed just one rushing first down on the day. Seattle stacked the box again and again on first down, and the Rams couldn't figure out any way to combat it. Just 185 total yards for the game. Seriously. Less than 200 total yards in 60 minutes of football.
All of it adds up to another wasted afternoon of Rams football.