Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thoughts on Rams' offensive philosophy

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams are 6-6 this season after going 6-42 over their previous three.

It's probably picking nits, then, to complain about second-half game plans that have, at times, bordered on overly conservative.

Bernie Miklasz and I were discussing the subject in the pressbox Sunday following the Rams' 19-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Bernie has come to respect the overall approach Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has taken despite some misgivings along the way.

One dynamic that bears mentioning: Shurmur works for a defensive-minded head coach. Defensive-minded head coaches tend to favor more conservative offensive approaches, particularly amid legitimate concerns (such as the Rams' limited options at receiver). If I'm Pat Shurmur, I'm more apt to tick off the head coach with an overly aggressive call than with an overly conservative one. No need to get too daring.

The Rams are much more aggressive on defense. That makes sense because the head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, doesn't have to worry about ticking off his head coach. He is the head coach.

The dynamic can work in reverse as well. I recall thinking Seattle's defensive coordinators sometimes favored safer tactics when working under offensive-minded head coach Mike Holmgren, as if afraid to make the critical mistake.

The Rams will almost certainly become more aggressive as quarterback Sam Bradford gains experience and the team arms him with better offensive weapons.