When it comes to having an efficient offense, converting on third down has a lot to do with just how many points a team puts on the board. Perhaps that is why the St. Louis Rams had such a horrific time offensively this season and failed to gain any true rhythm or identity on that side of the football. Here are some things that must change moving into 2013 if the Rams want to continue their upward trend as a team at take that next step on offense.
Clearly the fact that the team ranked 29th out of the league’s 32 teams in third-down conversion rate is not good. Their 32.1 percent conversion, or less than one-third of the time, is really inexcusable given how many times that means they had to relinquish the football to the other team. This team heaped an inordinate amount of the third down responsibility on quarterback Sam Bradford and he didn’t fair very well with a 69.3 passer rating in those situations ranking 24th in the NFL.
Perhaps some more running plays would have helped the situation a little as the Rams don’t exactly have a stable full of capable names at wide receiver. Relying on rookies and unheralded players on the most critical down and distance situations just isn’t a wise move. Steven Jackson should have gotten plenty more touches when push came to shove and his ability to pick up the tough yards would have proven more effective. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer must improve in this area in year two with the Rams.
Third and short or third and medium are where the running game must convert and they were also Bradford’s worst statistical areas as a passer. He had a 63.8 rating on third and short (3-7 yards to go) and a dismal 52.9 rating on third and medium (8-10 yards to go). For a team that was supposed to be run-oriented, the Rams certainly relied on the man under center quite a bit on the most run friendly scenarios of all.
Scoring just 299 points on the year is proof enough that the Rams must take a new approach in 2013. The offense doesn’t need to be prolific by any means, but the name of the game is to outscore the other team and averaging 18.7 points per game isn’t going to accomplish that very often.
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