Rams’ offense needs wake-up call
At the time when most NFL offenses are beginning their workday, the contingent from St. Louis is hitting the snooze button.
Every season has slow starters. Noticeably sluggish, they take their time getting up to speed.
The Rams, the Packers’ opponent Sunday, fit the bill. In the business world, their output in the first two quarters of games would qualify as little more than paper shuffling.
Jeff Fisher is in his fourth season as the Rams’ head coach. In each of the previous three seasons, his offense has ranked among the bottom 10 in terms of yards generated and bottom 12 in points produced.
This season it has been more of the same. In some cases, the situation has grown worse.
St. Louis (2-2) ranks last in yards per game (287.8), plays per game (50.3) and first downs per game (13.75). It is second-to-last in time of possession (25:40) behind only Philadelphia (22:48).
In some categories, the team holds down last place by a wide margin. In plays per game, next-to-last Detroit and Pittsburgh (59.5) are closer to fourth-ranked Atlanta (68.25) than to St. Louis. Similarly, Cleveland at No. 31 in first downs per game (17.25) is closer to the middle of the pack than to St. Louis.
As lackluster as the Rams’ offense has been overall, it is even more languid in the opening two quarters. Most teams (27) have generated more yards in one game this season than the Rams have produced in their four first halves combined.
Quarterback Nick Foles and his teammates have been responsible for just 371 first-half yards. Eleven teams, including the Packers, have twice that number.
St. Louis is the only team to have failed to gain even 90 yards in one of its opening quarters. The best it could muster was 82 in the 15 minutes leading to halftime in a 12-6 loss to the Steelers.
Big plays have been all but nonexistent. Receiver Tavon Austin (47) and tight end Jared Cook (22, 20) have the only receptions of 20 or more yards. Austin also has the longest run at 16 yards.
Austin’s run resulted in one of just two touchdowns the Rams have scored before halftime and it represents the most yards rushing by a Ram in a first or second quarter. Tre Mason is second with 11 yards on four carries.
Foles has passed for all of 319 yards. His first-half passer rating is an unexciting 88.8.
The Rams have scored 23 first-half points. Only the Texans (19) and 49ers (20) have fewer.
St. Louis has a solid defense, but one wouldn’t know it based on the yardage it has yielded in the first half. In a nutshell, the unit spends too much time on the field.
The Rams’ offense has held the ball for 46 minutes, 18 seconds. Its defense has toiled for 73:42.
That’s a long time to hold up without a breakdown. The Rams have given up 759 yards, just 22nd best in the opening two quarters.
So Sunday’s encounter at Lambeau Field could shape up as a race between tortoise and hare. St. Louis might find itself behind at the break, while Green Bay may have to guard against overconfidence down the stretch.
The Packers have owned a halftime lead in each of their last nine regular-season home games. There’s little reason to think they can’t stretch that streak to 10.
Green Bay has put up 856 first-half yards. Only Cincinnati (908) has more.
Its offense is particularly effective in the first quarter. The Packers lead the league in yards (461) and are tied with the Cardinals for most points (38).
Aaron Rodgers has thrown five first-quarter TD passes. He has thrown at least one in four games straight.
The Packers have scored in the first quarter in 20 consecutive regular-season games. It’s the longest current streak in the league.
One could dredge up more statistics, but piling on is illegal. Besides, St. Louis knows what it’s in for.
Can the Rams rise to the occasion? The answer may not surface until sometime after the University of Wisconsin marching band wraps up its halftime performance.
Overall: Rams lead 45-44-2.
At Lambeau Field: Packers lead 9-5.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (74-33 overall; 3-0 vs. St. Louis).
Rams: Nick Foles (17-11; 1-0 vs. Green Bay).
Once a Ram, now a Packer
Once a Packer, now a Ram
Eric Goska is a Packers historian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
30-minute nap time
Through Week 4, offenses that have produced fewer than 600 first-half yards.
Yards Team Record
371 Rams 2-2
420 Eagles 1-3
492 Dolphins 1-3
528 Colts 2-2
528 Seahawks 2-2
538 49ers 1-3
553 Lions 0-4
584 Saints 1-3
587 Ravens 1-3