Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams' offense
By Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have agreed to terms with free-agent safety Clinton Hart, formerly of the Chargers. The team needs help at the position after Oshiomogho Atogwe's potentially season-ending shoulder injury.
Also from Thomas: The Rams are on pace to score 185 points, which would be the seventh-lowest figure since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. Thomas: "Subtract defensive end Leonard Little's TD on an interception return in Jacksonville, and Daniel Fells' TD catch on a fake field goal in Detroit, and the Rams have 12 offensive touchdowns in 12 games. One must go back to the 1944 Cleveland Rams to find the last time a Rams team finished a season scoring fewer than 200 points. Coach Aldo 'Buff' Donelli's squad put up 188 points. But keep in mind, they played only 10 games that season and finished 4-6."
More from Thomas: advice for Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur via a weekly chat. Thomas: "I would try to mix it up. Run more four WR sets. Get Ruvell Martin more involved, particularly in the red zone. Mix in some no huddle for a series or two at random during a game. Run out of spread formation (or passing sets); Pass out of running formation. Try to be unpredictable and keep the defense guessing, while still featuring Jackson. Try more double moves off the short passing game. Use all of the field. Get the tight ends more involved. Try a trick play now and then." The Rams have run quite a bit from three-receiver personnel.
More yet from Thomas: He does not see a legitimate No. 1 receiver on the Rams' roster.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo will not be adopting a spread offense anytime soon. The Rams lack the personnel to scare teams in the passing game. Putting Ruvell Martin on the field isn't going to loosen up defenses and lead to a scoring spree.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with NFL Coaches Association leader Larry Kennan regarding a potential NFL lockout. Somers: "Head coaches aren't exempt, either. Most new coaches, or those who re-signed in the past couple of years, have contract clauses that include pay cuts in the event of a lockout. So although the 2011 season might seem far away to fans, it's not to coaches. Cardinals management recently approached some assistant coaches with offers of two-year contracts, but with a catch. The terms of the 2010 deals, including salaries, were spelled out. Details for the 2011 season were not. In the event of a lockout, would assistants receive full pay? Half? Nothing?" Cardinals strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott remains without a deal for next season.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says a bad back has prevented Brian St. Pierre from making a stronger run at the No. 2 quarterback role in Arizona. Urban: "I have played through considerable pain in my life before but this is every day I am trying to fight through it. It’s better than it was in camp but I’m not taking hits either. I am just more disappointed because I couldn’t put my best foot forward in camp and I don’t know if people realized that. I was caught between a rock and a hard place."
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 has high marks for the Cardinals' offense in Week 13.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the Seattle defense has fared much better against the Rams and 49ers than against the Cardinals and Vikings. Also: "Matt Hasselbeck needs 576 passing yards in the final four games to move past Ring of Honor QB Dave Krieg for the top spot on the franchise’s all-time list. Krieg passed for 26,132 yards from 1980-91. Hasselbeck has 25,557 since joining the Seahawks in 2001."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times isn't convinced the Seahawks have the personnel to seriously consider switching to a 3-4 defense next season.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are each on pace to finish with 80 receptions this season. Williams: "They would be the first receiving duo in franchise history to accomplish that feat. And both also have shots to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau for receiving. If they reach that mark, the duo would become the second pair of Seahawks receivers to do so, joining Joey Galloway (1,039 yards) and Brian Blades (1,001) in 1995."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers a player-by-player review from the 49ers' defeat at Seattle. A hamstring injury forced strong safety Michael Lewis out of the game on obvious passing downs. On Ahmad Brooks: "Replaced Manny Lawson in nickel situations for about half of the snaps. Put on a nice spin move against left tackle Sean Locklear for first-quarter sack and forced fumble. . . . Nice pursuit of Matt Hasselbeck to stop him for 4 yards on third and 8 in the third quarter . . . He finished with four tackles and two hits on the QB."
Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News says owners of Great America theme park have sued Santa Clara over the city's stadium plans for the 49ers. Mintz: "A spokesman for the 49ers declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying it is a matter between the city and the theme park owner. But the lawsuit could push the 49ers to follow through with a plan to go to the voters through an initiative, a move that would eliminate the need for environmental review and approval before the matter goes on the ballot and could short circuit legal challenges under state environmental laws."
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers punter Andy Lee, who would rather deal with cold than wind any day. On the conditions Sunday at Qwest Field: "The wind was blowing pretty hard across the field, from right to left, which is the worst wind for me because my ball turns over to the right. It hurts the action of the turnover, and it hurts the drop. Once you got outside that 20, there really wasn't any wind."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider points to dropped passes as a key variable in the 49ers' defeat to Seattle.