On the Rams' confounding offensive futility

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
7:24
PM ET
The St. Louis Rams' offensive line is having trouble in all phases of the game.

The wide receivers are having trouble getting open, and when they have gotten open, dropped passes and errant throws, some born of pressure, have prevented the team from capitalizing consistently.

Running back Steven Jackson remains the Rams' best player on offense, but instead of building the game plan around him Sunday, coaches regularly removed him from the backfield altogether, conceding they could not run against Seattle. Turns out they couldn't pass agains the Seahawks, either. Their lone touchdown came when a Seattle communication error led the Seahawks to play the wrong coverage.

The Rams take a 2-8 record into their final six games. They are down to their third-string left tackle. They have benched their veteran center. They are close to placing right tackle Jason Smith, their 2009 first-round pick, on injured reserve amid mounting evidence they're no worse without him.

St. Louis has scored 120 points in 10 games, and that includes 11 points scored by the defense. Quarterback Sam Bradford has taken nearly as many sacks in eight starts this season (31) as he took in 16 starts last season (34). That reflects protection issues as well as the team's stronger emphasis on looking for big plays down the field.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went into this season excited to install an offense that would allow the team to alter its approach dramatically from week to week, based on the opponent. One consequence, however, is that the team lacks a core identity on offense. Even the success Jackson has enjoyed on the ground has come largely on shotgun runs -- manufactured yardage, not the kind generated through traditional run blocking.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo offered no solutions during his news conference with reporters Monday. If the Rams had answers, of course, we'd see different results on the field. For now, it's looking like the team is headed toward an offseason overhaul of its offensive line and whatever changes ownership might demand.

I've put together a chart comparing the Rams' scoring average this season to those for McDaniels' past teams.

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