Mike will have more on this in his coaching portion of the RamView, but I wanted to emphasize this because I was a bit hard on the Rams coaches after week 2. The Rams coaches have out-coached Pete Carroll, who is in his 3rd stint in the NFL and Mike Shanahan, who is a coaching legend in the NFL in the past two weeks. And the Rams coaches deserve their kudos for those decisive victories.
The Rams offense kept adjusting to the Seattle defense and were able to deploy two crucial screen passes right at the exact moment to drive down the field for a touchdown. As the Seahawks filled the screen pass vulnerability, the Rams moved on to another offensive strategy. It is amazing what Pat Shurmur and Steve Spagnuolo can do when they have trust in their quarterback to make the right decision and the offensive line to protect that quarterback. Shurmur has shown the ability to open up the offense when he needs to. In the past year plus, it is now obvious that either Shurmur or Spagnuolo made the decision not to open up the offense because the Rams did not have the players that they trusted to execute that more aggressive offense.
The Rams defense has been outstanding all of 2010, but particularly improved over the past two weeks against decent, but not unstoppable offenses in Seattle and Washington. The Rams defense was not terrible in 2009, but they were not deep and when the Rams offense did not give them any support by keeping the defense off the field, they wore down as the game went along. In 2010, the defense has been playing with leads or in close games, which has given them the ability to wear down the offensive line and rush the passer late in games. The Rams front four has been able to generate pressure as well, which is a huge plus for the Rams defense, which allows the Rams to keep the other seven players in coverage. When you have seven players in coverage, you force the QB to hold the ball longer, giving more time to the pass rush. This is a great cycle to get into and the Rams have had success with this cycle. Additionally, the Rams have used the “amoeba” pass rush look with only one player down in a pass rush stance. That way the offense cannot set their protection before the snap and the Rams again have the advantage.
It is not all peaches and sunshine yet for the Rams as they are still struggling with penalties. However, the Rams now have an offense that can overcome a holding penalty, which was not the case last season. The Rams are still a very young team and need to work on cutting out the penalties.
The great work by the Rams coaching staff in week 3 and 4 overwrites the questionable work by the Rams coaches in weeks 1 and 2. Hopefully, the Rams coaches can continue to gain confidence in their troops and continue to put pressure on the opposition on offense and on defense.