It was easy to look at the good work the Rams offense did against the 49ers, and call it a turning point. Earlier in the week, we outlined six signs of offensive success that the Rams were capable of repeating. Sam Bradford and the offense utterly failed at four of those six factors, and it cost us a win against a very beatable opponent.
Aside from limiting pre-snap penalties, here is a complete list of things the Rams did well on offense today:
– Run blocking
– Red zone conversion
Unfortunately, they didn't do either of those things often enough. On a day when your running backs are averaging 5.6 yards per carry, it's borderline criminal to not keep feeding them. Steven Jackson in particular was running like a man possessed today, or to put it another way, he was running like Steven Jackson.
Now, here is the list of things the Rams did not do well on offense today:
– Vary the snap count, or show any amount of urgency at all presnap
– Get the ball out early in the down, in time with the receiver's route
– Target the Jets' aged and creaky linebackers
– Pass blocking
– Stretch the field with Givens or Amendola
– Hold on to the damn ball
– Do anything at all worth cheering for in the second and third quarter
The last point, of course, was the killer. Bradford had two excruciating turnovers that completely bled the life out of the Edward Jones Dome. The Jets took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, and Bradford's interception and fumble gutted any chance the Rams offense had to answer. The atmosphere in the stands utterly died. I've seen more energy at a book club. But then again, a Hardy Boys book had more drama than the Rams were able to muster in the second half of the game.
The comments of my friends around me were telling. "I was excited for this game, and I didn't want to get excited because this could happen." "I'm not even upset, I'm just numb." Judging from the lack of volume in the stands, I know they were far from alone.
The Rams lost more than a game today. They lost a ton of the good will they had built up all season long. When the team is playing well at home, when they're showing compete against more talented opponents and giving fans something to root for through four quarters of football, it's easy to look beyond the standings and find reasons to be positive.
But when they play like this, when they put forth a bedwetting against a bad team that hearkens back to the Rich Brooks era, you can't expect to get a pass from the fans. The Rams are in the third quarter of their season. It's gut check time if we're going to get four full quarters of football worth rooting for.