For the past decade since the dissolution of the Greatest Show on Turf era, the St. Louis Rams have been primarily a conservative, sluggish, run-oriented offense with little to no explosion and a very limited playbook. Quarterback Sam Bradford is entering his fourth year in the league fresh off his best win-loss campaign of his career with a rejuvenated cast of characters surrounding him. It seems about right for the Rams to shake that limited label and experience a real coming out part in 2013.
When looking at the club’s personnel, gone are wide receivers Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, and Steve Smith. The team has abruptly transitioned to what appears on paper to be a New England Patriots style of quick passing attack. The similarities between what the Rams have assembled and the Pats’ philosophical approach is undeniable with a speedy slot presence, a game-breaking deep threat, and a tough over the middle target. They also possess two dynamic tight ends that should benefit greatly from one another’s presence out on the field.
In the role of the speedy slot guy, rookie Tavon Austin should excel in a multitude of roles this upcoming season. He will be lined up all over the formation with the potential to go for the big play every time he touches the football. The deep threat is Chris Givens who showed his prowess in year one last season with five consecutive weeks catching a pass of 50-plus yards. And of course the physical target over the middle that the Rams are still waiting to blossom is Brian Quick who hauled in two red zone scores last year despite only making 11 catches total.
As for those tight ends, Lance Kendricks hasn’t overwhelmed in his first two seasons with the Rams, but he did see year-over-year improvement and certainly has the potential to breakout in 2013. That is particularly true given the presence of Jared Cook now lining up with him in two tight end sets. Cook is more of a take the top off of the defense type of tight end while Kendricks can work the underneath routes and accumulate his yardage after the catch.
All in all, this Rams team that managed to only average only 329.0 yards per game in 2012 is sure to improve on that total. Their paltry 18.7 points per game average as one of only eight NFL teams to score fewer than 300 points in 2012 also figures to see a significant upgrade. If this team is looking to mimic the Patriots’ blueprint for success, Bradford is going to need to step up under center, but there’s no question he has the necessary weapons to do some serious damage in the year ahead.