Before the 2009 NFL regular season began, I wrote a handful of season previews for a few teams. Since I started the blog in July, I really didn’t have enough time to do all 32 teams. However, I should have enough time to complete a season review of all of the teams. At least, that is what I am planning. We’ll see if I get through them all. With that said, this is the first review. For teams in the playoffs, a review would not be complete without including where they finished, particularly if they win the Super Bowl. For that reason, I am beginning with the teams with the worst records first and working my way up to those that made the playoffs. At 1-15, the Saint Louis Rams will have the first pick in this year’s draft, so I will cover them first.
In these posts, I will follow a somewhat set formula. That formula will be to first look at the team’s Offensive and Defensive values and ranks for total yards, points, passing and rushing. This will give a general feel for the team’s season. The next step will be a set of tables that will compare the team’s points scored and allowed as well as their total yards, and passing and rushing yards, gained and allowed for each game. These values will be compared with the respective opponent’s corresponding averages, with the differences between the team’s value and the opponent’s average calculated. Finally, I included a sum of the differences for the entire season. This should give a good indication of how the team’s various units performed with respect to their opposition as well as which units performed better or worse. (Note: All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com)
With that background description, let’s see how the Rams performed this season. First, we’ll look at their raw numbers in terms of offensive and defensive yards and league rankings.
|Team Offense||Value||Rank||Team Defense||Value||Rank|
|Pass Yards||2686||28||Pass Yards||3764||25|
|Pass TD||12||29||Pass TD||22||14|
|Pass INTs||21||28||Pass INTs||8||31|
|Rush Yards||1784||20||Rush Yards||2201||27|
|Rush TD||4||32||Rush TD||24||31|
Well, as one might expect for a 1-15 team, the Rams have weaknesses everywhere. They rank in the bottom 4 in almost every category, both offensively and defensively. The only real bright spot was Steven Jackson’s rushing. He was largely responsible for their healthy rushing average of 4.3 yards per attempt. They were also in the top half defensive passing TDs allowed, but that was probably because teams could just run the ball at will on them.
Now that we’ve looked at the general overview, let’s look at the game by game statistical tables. Table 2 contains the Rams’ points scored and allowed in each game next to the opponents’ average defensive points allowed and average offensive points scored. It also shows the Rams’ points scored minus the opponent’s average points allowed and the Rams’ points allowed minus the opponent’s average points scored. For the Diff1 column, a positive number would be good, while for the Diff2 column, a negative number would be good.
|Ram Pts||Opp D||Opp Pts||Opp O|
|Opp||Score||Avg Pt||Diff1||Score||Avg Pt||Diff2|
|Green Bay Packers||17||18.56||-1.56||36||28.81||7.19|
|San Francisco 49ers||0||17.56||-17.56||35||20.63||14.38|
|New Orleans Saints||23||21.31||1.69||28||31.88||-3.88|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||17.56||-11.56||28||20.63||7.38|
Just from a points standpoint, the Rams were bad on both sides of the ball. But, they seemed to be worse offensively than defensively, just judging by how much more poorly the offense performed compared to opponents’ averages. We see a similar story in Table 3 below.
|Ram Yds||Opp D||Opp Yds||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Yd||Diff1||Gained||Avg Yd||Diff2|
|Green Bay Packers||336||284.44||51.56||402||379.06||22.94|
|San Francisco 49ers||177||326.38||-149.38||228||290.75||-62.75|
|New Orleans Saints||434||357.75||76.25||420||403.81||16.19|
|San Francisco 49ers||109||326.38||-217.38||329||290.75||38.25|
In yardage, as in points, the Rams performed worse offensively than defensively, by nearly a 2-1 margin. The next two tables reflect the Rams league rankings shown in Table 1 above.
|Ram P-Yd||Opp D||Opp P-Yd||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Pa||Diff1||Gained||Avg Pa||Diff2|
|Green Bay Packers||187||201.13||-14.13||250||261.25||-11.25|
|San Francisco 49ers||82||229.38||-147.38||132||190.75||-58.75|
|New Orleans Saints||293||235.56||57.44||217||272.19||-55.19|
|San Francisco 49ers||22||229.38||-207.38||204||190.75||13.25|
|Ram R-Yd||Opp D||Opp R-Yd||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Ru||Diff1||Gained||Avg Ru||Diff2|
|Green Bay Packers||149||83.31||65.69||152||117.81||34.19|
|San Francisco 49ers||95||97||-2||96||100||-4|
|New Orleans Saints||141||122.19||18.81||203||131.63||71.38|
|San Francisco 49ers||87||97||-10||125||100||25|
Here we see that the Rams passing game and rush defense were the worst culprits in their poor performance relative to opponents’ averages. In pass defense and rushing offense, they were actually relatively close to the opponents’ averages for this season. Again, part of this may have to do with the fact that most teams had comfortable leads in the second half, and therefore ran the ball much more than they passed the ball late in games. I would guess that since they seemed to find running relatively productive, there would be no reason not to. By the same token, with a lead, the opposing offenses probably focused more on stopping the pass and did not play the run very aggressively.
Again, the Rams have many needs, but based on these numbers, their greatest needs right now are in rush defense and passing offense. That pretty much corresponds with what VanRam at Turf Show Times concluded in this post on the Rams Team Needs. I would tend to agree with his assessment of their top 3 needs:
In general, I would say they should focus on defense first. If they draft the expected franchise QB, I’d give him a year before starting him. But, either way, this team needs plenty of help.