This is what happens when you don't run the ball and don't stop the run. This is the result of years and years of throw, throw, throw and not much else. I'm talking about the St. Louis Rams and the task facing new coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Spagnuolo is the defensive genius who saved Tom Coughlin's job in New York. You might remember that Coughlin was facing a win-or-else season two years ago when Spagnuolo transformed the Giants defense from a 25th-ranked unit in 2006 to a number seven ranking in '07. He then fashioned an ingenious game plan to hand the Patriots their only loss of the season and, thus, claim the Super Bowl title for the Giants.
Rightfully, Spagnuolo has been rewarded with a head coaching job. The Rams finally saw the light and turned away from the years and years of softness passing-game wizards Mike Martz and Scott Linehan produced.
Look at the rankings; you can already start to see the change that's taking place. The Rams are 12th in rushing and 27th in passing. Their defense is actually five places higher than their offense.
Yeah, I know, 23rd in defense isn't good, but the transformation of the Rams from a patsy team that can only beat you with a finesse passing game to a team that wants to stick the ball down your throat and smack you in the mouth on defense is evident. The Rams are 15th in the league in yards-per-rush allowed. They're starting to get the makings of a pass-rush, too.
The weakest part of the Rams' game these days is its passing attack, which is 27th in the league. Its receivers no longer strike fear in opponents, as did Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
Whereas Martz used running back Marshall Faulk to catch passes, Spagnuolo has pounded Steven Jackson into the line 104 times this season, the second-most rushing attempts in the league.
Yeah, I know, they're 0-5 and have only been competitive in one of their games, but that's to be expected when a team is attempting to make a radical transformation from passing-game sissy to run-the-ball/stop-the-run tough guy.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Rams.
- Stop the run—Let's start with this staple of the game against a team committed to running the ball.
- Give the ball to MoJo—He wants it. Let him lead the way.
- Cover—Obviously, rushing isn't working.
- Rush—Or do this because, obviously, covering isn't working.
- Stay united—Finger-pointing this early in the season could be disastrous.
- Get to bed early—It's good for the body and the bank account.
- Take the Rams seriously—Because the coach is serious about winning.
- Hit—There wasn't nearly enough of that in Seattle.
- Play fast—There wasn't nearly enough of that in Seattle, either.
- Dream of what can be—A win would leave the Jaguars at 3-3 heading into the bye and with a solid chance of getting over .500 by the midway point in the season.