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Monday, October 20, 2008
Rams show different side against Cowboys

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The Cowboys weren't the only ones fooled by the Rams' offense in Week 7. I was right there with them.

 
 Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
 Steven Jackson rushed for 160 yards against Dallas on Sunday.

What the Rams showed against the Redskins in Week 6 looked nothing like what the Rams showed the Cowboys during a 34-14 victory at the Edward Jones Dome.

The Rams used three wide receivers about 55 percent of the time at Washington. This seemed to make sense after tight end Randy McMichael landed on injured reserve. But the approach changed dramatically against the Cowboys. I counted three receivers on the field for less than 27 percent of the snaps. Instead, we saw the return of the tight end(s) in St. Louis.

I asked tight end Anthony Becht about this and here is what he said:

"I think last week it was just a matter of that's what they gave us. They showed on tape how they were crowding the box and our passing game was kind of in between where we want it to be. This week, Donnie [Avery] was in the game and some of the young receivers presented a little bit of speed, so they had to honor it. It worked out for us."

This combination has the potential to offer the Rams the best of two worlds. In theory, Avery's speed on the outside should help Steven Jackson in the ground game. Before we dive into other personnel-related observations, let me offer this Excel file, which breaks down production by personnel group while providing a sortable play-by-play sheet.

Charting offensive personnel becomes relatively easy on 95 percent of plays after enough practice. The Rams made me think a couple of times. I'm pretty sure they went with one back, one receiver and three tight ends on a couple plays. It's possible one of the tight ends was actually a running back. We're talking about only a couple plays, so no big deal either way.

I'll be out at Rams headquarters for much of the day before heading back to the Northwest. We'll have more on the Rams as the day progresses.