It's Wednesday, which usually about the time we start looking ahead to the weekend. So as I started to do some advanced scouting of the St Louis Rams, something stunning jumped out at me. There's "dink and dunk" type offenses and then there's what the Rams did last year. In fact, their passing game was limited to short gains in a nearly historic way.
We'll start with Sam Bradford. He put up some good numbers for a rookie starter completing 60% of his passes and throwing for over 3,500 yards. However, yards per attempt was just six, easily the lowest of any starting QB in the NFL last year. In fact, it's the 6th lowest of any QB to start 16 games in the last 10 years. Plus, his company in that group is scary. David Carr (x2), Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller & Jake Plummer. All high first round picks except for Plummer (2nd round), who is the only one of the group who can't be considered a total bust. Pro Football Reference calculated Bradford's adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt at just 4.474. Now it is worth noting that Bradford bested the majority of those guys in almost every other category (except for INTs, which he threw more of than all but Plummer and Harrington).
Bradford's favorite target was ex Eagles practice squad guy Danny Amendola. He was Chad Hall before Chad Hall. Amendola's yards per catch was historically low. Last year he became the only WR in NFL history to catch 85 passes and not eclipse 700 yards. In fact, only two other players in history have done that and both were RBs.
Now there is some cause to think things will change a bit. Offensive coordinator (and ex Eagles QB coach) Pat Shurmur has moved on to Cleveland and franchise destroyer Josh McDaniels has taken over the Rams offense. Assuming he doesn't convince the Rams to trade Bradford for Tim Tebow and get rid of all the rest of the teams' good players, he should bring a more downfield style to the offense. That was certainly McDaniel's style in New England and Denver. What remains to be seen is if Bradford can be successful doing that (undoubtedly his completion percentage will go down and picks will go up as he throws more than 4 yards) and of course whether the Rams WRs are capable of getting downfield.
Amendola offers almost nothing as a deep threat. They added former JAG (very appropriate given that he is Just A Guy) Mike Sims-Walker in the offseason and while he doesn't catch a whole lot of passes he's averaged a respectable 13 ypc in his career. Ironically, the only guy on their roster that seemed like he had deep threat potential was Donnie Avery, who was cut last week.
So will the Rams open things up this year? Can Bradford be successful getting the ball downfield? That remains to be seen. But given the Eagles trio of corners and wealth of pass rushers, this may not be the week to find out. Expect a healthy dose of Steven Jackson as the Rams try to keep this a low scoring, ball control affair.