Allen Park — On Sunday, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will be on the sidelines to watch one of the most high-flying, efficient, fun-to-watch offenses in the league.
And after the Los Angeles Rams get off the field, Cooter will send his injury-riddled offense out to try and keep up.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones was placed on injured reserve Monday with a season-ending injury, and the Lions also will be without rookie running back Kerryon Johnson for the second week in a row. Couple that with the still-lingering effect of Golden Tate’s midseason trade to the Philadelphia Eagles, and it’s easy to see why Cooter isn’t interested in making “comparisons” between his offense and Detroit’s Week 13 foe.
“We’re building this thing around our guys,” Cooter said. “We’re building this thing with our team in mind to try to win football games.”
Of course, winning football games goes hand in hand with maximizing the efficiency of an offense.
In 2016, the Rams were ranked dead last in points scored, scoring 40 less than the 1-15 Cleveland Browns. Then, under the tutelage of rookie head coach Sean McVay, the Rams scored the most points in the NFL in 2017 and have kept pace this season.
Cooter said that drawing up a dominating scheme is a little more “all-encompassing” than popping in a successful team’s film and taking note of how they do business.
“If there’s a football play we can steal that, boy, that’s gonna make all the difference in our year, we better go out there and steal that football play," Cooter said.
"It’s always a little bigger than that.”
Still, Cooter admitted he’s impressed with how fluidly Los Angeles is “meshing the run and the play-action pass game.”
“The run-pass versatility they have where it really does look the same or very similar when the ball is snapped is pretty valuable," he said.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s offense is averaging just 4.7 yards per play in its last three games, 29th in the league during that span.
While nobody ever said that thriving without three marquee playmakers in the offense would be easy, Cooter said it falls on him to overcome those challenges.
“You go into training camp and your depth chart looks like one thing, week 12, looks like something else,” Cooter said.
“It is on me to improve during the year, to find problems, to find weaknesses and improve those. At the end of the day, I think a lot of my job is problem solving.”
Down the stretch, Cooter said he’s looking forward to working with a group of young players that don’t have a lot of experience and are hungry to prove their talent.
“Honestly, I really am excited to see some of these guys play,” Cooter said.
“Get a few more opportunities to run a route versus tight coverage and see who gets open, or maybe to protect a good football player up front, how do we pick up a blitz, those type of things.”
Rams at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Rams 10-1, Lions 4-7
Line: Rams by 10
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.