Rams Can’t Close Out Road Games

Bradford, Rams Are Going Through Trying Times

It is not called growing “good times”.  Or growing “sweet sweet success”.  It is called “growing pains”.  And the Rams are going through their fare share of growing pains this season.  They have taken a step forward this season, actually beating teams they should beat (and one that was strongly favored) at home.  That is a huge step forward for the St. Louis Rams franchise that could not beat anyone over the past 3 seasons.  But, their growing pains are exacerbated when they head on the road.  The Rams have failed to get a win on the road in 4 tries, leading in the 2nd half in 3 of those 4 games.  Those three heart-breaking losses have accounted for several steps back for the Rams franchise.

The St. Louis Rams franchise has experienced a lot of regular pains over the last three seasons, winning only 6 games in 3 years.  So far in 2010, the Rams have won 4 games which is 1 more than they won over the past two seasons.  However, with these wins and the weak NFC West, the Rams have eyed a playoff berth a year after going 1-15.  But, it appears the Rams growing pains with a young team and a rookie quarterback might be too much to overcome in 2010.

It is good to see the Rams finally win games, but with winning and growing come higher expectations and growing pains.  The Rams have shown the ability to play good football, something we haven’t seen in St. Louis in a long time.  But, the Rams have been unable to execute on a consistent basis, which has cost them games in the 2nd half.  The Rams offense and coaching staff has trusted their defense late in the game.  The Rams defense has protected leads, but also has allowed leads to disintegrate.

The Rams defense is growing by leaps and bounds, but they have experience growing pains.  The Rams offense has taken a huge step forward behind their rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, but they have had their own growing pains, not moving the football when the team desperately needed them to.  The rebuilding of the Rams is not going to happen all at once as the Rams grow up right before our eyes, but that improvement does not help the losses hurt any less.

Rams Lack Killer Instinct:

We could talk all day and night about each and every part that went wrong for the Rams on Sunday, but the over-arching theme of the Rams in 2010 is that they lack a killer instinct.  In all but the dominating win over the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams have attempted to sit on their lead in the 2nd half.

Against San Diego, it worked (barely). Against Washington and Carolina it worked.  But, against Tampa Bay, Arizona, Oakland and San Francisco, the plan went up in flames.  I understand that the team and the coaching staff trust their defensive players, but more often than not the defense has failed to hold the lead.

The problem is not entirely laid on the feet of the defense because the Rams lack the ability to put away teams late in the game.  Against the 49ers, the Rams had 4 straight 3 and outs with each drive they had the chance to make the game into a two score game.  Against Tampa Bay, the offense scored 0 points in the 2nd half as Tampa Bay whittled a 17-3 Rams lead into an 18-17 Tampa Bay victory.

The Rams defense is not good enough to defend a one score lead for a full quarter and the Rams offense is not good enough to go into cruise control and allows breakdowns.  There is a reason Football Outsiders DVOA has the Rams offense ranked 28th and the Rams defense ranked 14th in the middle of the pack.

The Rams have improved leaps and bounds from 2009, but until they can figure out how to put the opposition to the sword when they have a lead late in the game, they will not be able to fight above .500.

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