Pat Kirwan at NFL.com wrote this week about the impact that mental errors have in all facets of the game — "dumb" penalties, dropped passes, turnovers (especially in the red zone), and points off turnovers — and how much they are hurting the league's worst teams. That's right, teams, as in plural, as in the Rams aren't the only sad bastards suffering from a blight of idiocy.
But ultimately, the mental play of our team is a much bigger factor than the lack of talent in terms of us being set back by, as Jim Thomas points out in this week's P-D chat, an average score of 29-7. And I thought, as I listened to D'Marco Farr and Steve Savard say, ad nauseum, "and the Rams keep shooting themselves in the foot!" … if I tried to rack up all of the Rams' mental mistakes so far this season in a single chart, what would it look like? See for yourself, after the break:
Methodology: I didn't chart every penalty, just the ones that Kirwan classifies as "concentration" penalties. (I added a few outliers, too, like Anthony Smith's devastatingly terrible hold on Amendola's 92-yard game-opening kickoff return against SF.)
For dropped passes, I charted the ones that stood out, but I'm sure there are a few more. However, it's difficult to tie these directly to missed scoring opportunities, unless we get a drop in the end zone.
In addition to Kirwan's classifications, I added a couple key coaching mistakes that took point-scoring opportunities off the board. Some of the scoring adjustments are obvious — the score would not have happened, but for the mistake, such as the muffed punt by Quincy Butler that turned into the 49ers' first points. Others are not so cut-and-dried, so I tried to be somewhat even-handed, awarding field goals in most cases. However, the one instance of Steven Jackson's fumble on the 1 yard line, the Rams had a 1st and goal from the 1. 90% of the time or more, NFL teams score touchdowns from there. Even the bad ones.
In the final tabulation, if the Rams could play without these ridiculous mental errors, they would have at least one win by now (over the feckless Redskins), and have scored 69 points vs 98 allowed. Still not fantastic, but not nearly as embarrassing as the results we see now.