Is Rams' offense too conservative?

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo answered 18 consecutive questions about his offense Monday.

The one thing he could not realistically say: Look, we simply lack the talent and continuity needed to field a consistently successful offense.

Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur played conservatively during a 17-9 defeat to the Bears in Week 13. They ran the ball on third-and-long to make sure Josh Brown would still have a shot at a field goal while trailing 17-6. They ran only one snap with four wide receivers, instead often going with a two-receiver attack featuring tight end Billy Bajema as the fullback (starter Mike Karney was unavailable).

The Rams are on pace to score 185 points, which would be among the lowest totals since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. Why not open up the offense and see what happens? Well, here is why: The Rams don't have the right players for such an approach.

"We're going to go to five wideouts," Spagnuolo joked.

The Rams have averaged 1.9 yards per pass attempt this season with Steven Jackson and four wide receivers on the field together (download full 2009 report here). They were at their best against the Bears when they were most conservative, averaging 11.3 yards per carry on three rushes from personnel groups featuring three tight ends and only one wide receiver.

The offense has gone from limited and improving to injured and deteriorating over the last few weeks. Jackson is obviously not 100 percent. He gutted out 113 yards on 28 carries against the Bears, but there were at least 11 snaps when Jackson did not play at all. Karney's absence hurt. Left tackle Alex Barron sometimes had problems in protection. Quarterback Kyle Boller provided about what a backup might be expected to provide, particularly in a new system without enough weapons.

Rams through the air: Week 13

The chart shows how the Rams' passing game fared by personnel group during a 17-9 defeat to the Bears. I counted Bajema as a tight end regardless of where he lined up.