Many (including myself) were touting the 2013 NFL season as a potential breakout campaign for St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. The club added a number of new weapons for the man under center to throw to and also afforded him to additional protection along the offensive line to better insulate him from opposing defenders. Through the first three games, however, Bradford and the St. Louis offense has been anything but impressive.
Let’s begin with some numbers.
Bradford has attempted the most passes in the league so far through three games with 141. On the positive side of things, he also leads the league in completions with 88 which suggests he has been on target the majority of the time. Unfortunately, the numbers – as illustrated by STLToday.com – show that the offense hasn’t benefited one bit as a result.
While completions are certainly preferable to incompletions, Bradford’s lack of deep balls have rendered the offense somewhat inept through the first three weeks of action. The quarterback ranks 27th among quarterbacks with an average of 6.32 yards per attempt, 30th in terms of yards per completion at 10.13, and 32nd (aka dead last) with an average of just 4.1 yards at the point of catch. What that stat means is that the catches the Rams have been making are on average a mere 4.1 yards from the line of scrimmage.
To put it mildly, the Rams have been about as conservative as it gets this year on offense. And it really is baffling considering that they have no running game to speak of and the only way to win games is by actually scoring points. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the continuity for Bradford was supposed to be the reason this offense would take a big step forward in 2013, but it seems the OC is the reason the Rams have remained stuck in neutral thus far.
It’s time to open up the playbook and get last year’s deep threat dynamo Chris Givens more involved. Rookie speedster Tavon Austin needs to have his number called more often as well on plays where he can get into position to make guys miss rather than simply make the catch and go to the ground. Tight end Jared Cook’s season began with a ton of promise, but since his amazing opener where he averaged 20.1 yards per catch he has been held to a paltry 9.0 yards per grab.
At this point the sample size is still small so there is time for Bradford and Schotty to start pitching the pigskin deeper down the field. It still remains befuddling as to why a player like Austin is being used in such a manner that almost sets him up to be tackled nearly immediately after making the grab. The Rams were masters of using Danny Amendola (when he was healthy) to make catches in space and pick up big chunks of yardage. It only seems logical that they would be able to accomplish something similar with a player like Tavon.
Without a running game to speak of, the season is going to ride on the right shoulder of Sam Bradford. If the Rams want the results to get any better than the benign first three weeks they must push the ball deeper down field with more regularity. This is an offense made to create mismatches and make plays in space; if Schottenheimer is incapable of calling plays to accomplish this, maybe the Rams need to be in the market for a new offensive mind in the near future.