The St Louis Rams came into this game riding a small wave of momentum, winning two games and nearly locking up a third in the last three weeks. Steven Jackson had been running as well as he had in any three-game span of his career during that span, cracking the 125 yard mark in all three contests.
Naturally, Josh McDaniels did a little self-scouting on the Rams and made the logical decision: He anticipated that Seattle might try to load up against Jackson, so he took the RB out of the equation all together and put this game entirely on the shoulders of Sam Bradford and his receivers.
Feeling flush with receiver talent, with both Brandon Lloyd and Mark Clayton active, McDaniels dialed up a large percentage of empty backfield sets, though as the announcers pointed out, there was no hurry-up in the offense.
The resulting 24-7 defeat was almost shockingly awful, and I say almost because nothing's really shocking any more about the offensive futility of this team. Maddening, disappointing, disheartening, even confusing, yes. But shocking? No.
Here is a rapid-fire listing of the Rams' drives:
Punt. Touchdown (7-0 lead!). Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Fumble. Punt. Punt. Punt. Interception. Fumble. Kneel.
The longest of those drives went for 42 yards, and that too ended in a punt. The Rams started possessions three times in the first quarter north of their 40 yard line, and got only one score. When these Rams were quarterbacked by Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, and our offense run by Scott Linehan, we used to pine for the days when we might get a real quarterback, and a real offensive coordinator. Well? Now what?
I suppose we need to add a real offensive line and a real offensive line coach to that list. And a real offseason. And a real quarterbacks coach. And a real dose of good luck in the injury department.
You can blame this loss on coach Spagnuolo, and doubtless many will, but his guys on defense played their asses off. But they got consistently given short fields by their offense and by poor punting by Donnie Jones. Seattle's three touchdown drives covered 40, 25, and 21 yards. This game was given to Sam Bradford to win or lose very early on, and he lost it. Plain and simple. All Spagnuolo could do was watch.
Fox analyst Tim Ryan unintentionally summed up Spagnuolo's fate thusly: "As a head coach, Steve Spagnuolo is a great defensive coordinator."
For all we know, that may be the title printed on his next business card.