Feldman: Rams utterly shut down offensively in Chicago

Feldman: Rams utterly shut down offensively in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams goes back to pass against the Chicago Bears on September 23, 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman / News 4 Sports

KMOV.com

Posted on September 23, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 5:02 PM

(FootballStL) -- 160 yards on 58 plays is not exactly the rate an NFL offense wants to see on Sundays.  Well, that's exactly what the Rams have to live with now that they're going home with a 23-6 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.  2.8 yards per play, just 3-13 on third down attempts and a pair of turnovers ultimately doom them in game three of the season.

Sam Bradford put it best after the game.  "The biggest key to our success is we have got to be better on first and second downs. We put ourselves in way too many third and longs and we knew this was a very good defense at defending third and long.  It was a postion we didn't want to be in and we were in it way too often."

It was evident from very early in the game that this was going to be a struggle on the offensive end.  There was no running room whatsoever for Steven Jackson.  The wide receivers couldn't get open on the Bears secondary at any point.  And when they did get open - which wasn't often - Sam Bradford was getting knocked to the ground. 

"We got beat." Head coach Jeff Fisher said after the game. "We got beat up front. On the (defensive) side of the ball (the Bears) are very very talented.  Very talented.  They can rush. When you got to throw to catch up and you are one dimensional it's difficult to do that." 

There wasn't too much to build on here.  Steven Jackson said it was "a step back" for them in Chicago after making pretty good progress against the Redskins last week.  Usually, there's some positives but I didn't see very many.  The Rams found themselves in third and long situations throughout the course of the game on offense.  A lot of that is the fact they just could not run the football effectively.  And when you are in third and long a lot...that's usually a bad sign.  Which it was for the Rams in this one.  The only solution to that problem is to have better success on first and second downs.  Third and four or fewer is much more manageable than third and seven or more.  The odds say you'll continue your drive much more often in third and short.  Obviously.

One big part of this game was the style of defense that the Bears play and how that affected the Rams ability to move the football.  The Bears play what's called a two-deep zone.  They have both safeties essentially split the deep halves of the field and make that their area to cover.  What that does is it takes away the middle of the field...which is where Sam Bradford's favorite target (Danny Amendola) makes his living.  The open areas against a two deep zone are the flats and the outside seams.  That's not the Rams strength.  And it's especially not Amendola's strength. 

The result was Bradford targeting him a team high nine times but only completing five for 66 yards.  For someone's favorite target, that's not very productive.  Especially when the next most productive receiver was Brandon Gibson and his two catches for 19 yards.  Or was it Lance Kendricks and his three receptions for 18 yards?  Either way, it was a struggle for these receivers to get open against the Bears cover two. 

It's unreasonable to suggest that the Rams should be having such a dynamic offense at this point in their development because, frankly, let's be honest.  There's not a ton of talent here.  There's a few really nice athletes and a few solid role players.  But, by and large, there isn't a whole lot of talent on this offense.  A guard and tackle are mandatory for next year.  A tight end would be nice, too.  Believe it or not, I still think wide receiver could be a priority.  That's a lot.

The difference between this year's Rams team and previous years is they are making more out of what they've got than they have in the past.  There wasn't talent here before, don't get me wrong.  But they didn't even use what they had.  Now, they're greater than the sum of their parts...which is encouraging.  That's due in large part to the leadership of Jeff Fisher.

Leadership is nice.  It will get you very far.  But talent wins and loses in the NFL.  And the Rams have a little ways to go on that front.

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