One week later, the New York Jets and their 30th-ranked run defense came to St. Louis. After the success of the run game against one of the best run defenses in the league, how would you have divvied up the offensive snaps against the Jets?
I know what I would have done, and it's not what Brian Schottenheimer did.
13 carries. 13 carries is all the work Steven Jackson got out of the backfield.
I might be able to understand Schottenheimer's decision to abandon the run if it wasn't working. But it was. Steven Jackson took those 13 carries for 81 yards, an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
Okay, maybe Jackson's carries suffered because Darryl Richardson was getting more action.
Richardson had six carries against the Jets. He had seven against the 49ers.
The 13 carries for Jackson will sound even more absurd when you realize that five of those carries came on the Rams' first drive which, incidentally, went for a touchdown. That leaves eight carries for the rest of the game. Eight carries over more than three quarters for a guy who only a week earlier looked almost unstoppable.
Jackson had three carries in the second quarter, three more in the third. You gave the man five carries on the first drive of the game and you scored a touchdown. Then, over the next two quarters you only give him six carries. Unbelievable.
Then came the fourth quarter. I'll grant you that the Rams were behind by 20 points by the time they got the ball, but there were 14 minutes left in the game at that point, plenty of time to get Jackson involved in the running game—especially considering how effective he had been.
Instead, for reasons unknown to me, Schottenheimer chose to run the rookie, who fumbled on his second carry of the drive.
The next drive for the Rams started with a Steven Jackson run for 20 yards. I'm not saying they should have ran him more from then on; at that point there were only eight minutes left in the game and they were down by 20 points. It's just further proof of the success they could have had if they had been running Jackson consistently throughout the game.
The Rams and Jets each ran 65 plays. When you compare the division of those plays, they are essentially inverted. The Jets passed the ball 21 times and ran it 40 times, while the Rams passed it 44 times and ran it 20.
Both teams came in with struggling passing games. The Jets acted accordingly and chose to focus on running the ball. The Rams, on the other hand, inexplicably decided to run more than twice as many passing plays with their altogether underwhelming group of wide receivers and an offensive line that has struggled to protect its quarterback—even though they had immense success the week before with the running game.
As if all of this weren't bad enough, when you consider that the Jets have the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense—as I mentioned before—and their pass defense ranks fourth in the league, Brian Schottenheimer's play-calling truly baffles the mind. He pitted his team's weakness against the other team's strength. Again, unbelievable.
After last week's game against the 49ers, I thought Schottenheimer had come to his senses and would finally begin utilizing his best offensive weapon—something he failed to do in the first half of the season. It appears the sound reasoning he displayed in Week 10 was the aberration and his inexplicably illogical play-calling will continue as the norm.
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