Morning Ram-blings: Revisiting 4th down

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Yes, I know the 24-hour rule has long since passed and we're on to talking about the Tennessee Titans as it pertains to the St. Louis Rams.

This morning, we're going to cheat the rules a bit and revisit a play that probably doesn't leave many Rams fans with the warm and fuzzies. Yes, we're going to go back to the fourth down play that left the Rams a yard short of upsetting the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. The reason? Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer talked about the sequence for the first time on Thursday and it's worth sharing his thought process on the failed play.

For those that don't remember, the Rams went with an empty backfield after running back Zac Stacy motioned out of the shotgun split to the left of quarterback Kellen Clemens. At the snap, Seattle brought an all out blitz and Clemens quickly let go a pass intended for receiver Brian Quick breaking to the left side of the end zone. The ball sailed long and Quick never had a play on it, ending the game.

Here's what Schottenheimer has to say about the final call.

“We ran it on third down, thought we could maybe get in there," Schottenheimer said. "(They) got some penetration up front and (running back) Daryl (Richardson) couldn’t get through. So, on fourth down we went with kind of our ‘got to have it’ play. We have a number of plays, but usually the menu’s got about two or three. Those are our ‘got to have its.’ Those are what we call quite a bit.”

According to Schottenheimer, those "got to have it" plays are usually successful, the type of plays we've seen work in a game against Houston, for example.

“We’ve thrown a couple touchdown passes on it," Schottenheimer said. "You’ve got to give them credit. They made a good play. They brought an all-out blitz and No. 39 got a good quick jam on ‘Quickie’ and couldn’t find the ball.”

Most people didn't have an issue with the fact that the Rams threw the ball on the play, but many (present company included) didn't like that the play presented no option of the run with Stacy split out wide. Asked if he'd like to have someone in the backfield with Clemens on the play, Schottenheimer explained why he was OK without it.

“The good thing about the empty backfield is it kind of shows what they’re getting ready to do," Schottenheimer said. "Makes it easy for the quarterback to see. It undresses some of their blitzes. Again, there’s a number of plays in that game that I’d like to probably have called back but that was one I felt very good about.”

While Schottenheimer's point about the opposing defense tipping its hand is fair - after all, Seattle clearly telegraphed its blitz after Stacy motioned out wide -- that's also a two-way street. The opposing defense would have little reason to care whether or not it telegraphed its intentions when the offense just did the same thing. Sure, the route combination might not be known but it's a play taking place in a confined area and there's no threat of the run. So for as much as the Rams knew what Seattle was going to do defensively, it's logical to think the Seahawks were every bit as informed and happy to take their chances that they could win the individual match ups on the outside.


A roundup of Thursday's Rams' stories on ESPN.com: Following the Ram-blings, we got the day started with our Weekly Redskins watch, looking ahead to the draft and why the Rams' own pick might be headed up while Washington's could be going the opposite direction. ... Next was Double Coverage as Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky and I previewed this week's game between the Rams and Titans. ... In the afternoon, we looked at emerging star defensive end Robert Quinn and is breakthrough season. ... Finally, it was the daily injury update with the news that running back Zac Stacy returned to practice full time.


ESPN Insider Mike Sando offers his weekly Inside Edge preview of Sunday's game.

Great read from Kuharsky on Titans QB Jake Locker.

NFL.com offers its midseason breakdown and predictions for the second half.

Rams.com looks at the strong start of punter Johnny Hekker.

Turf Show Times takes an early look at how Stacy is building an early case to be in a thin Offensive Rookie of the Year case.