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Thread: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    ē Bernie Miklasz

    Looking ahead to the Ramsí personnel needs for this year, I have one primary question: is there a playmaker in the house?

    For all of the progress made in 2012, the Rams are unlikely to make the playoffs in 2013 unless they can reach the end zone more often, and do it at a faster pace.

    The Rams scored 27 touchdowns on offense last season, which ranked 27th among the 32 teams, and that doesnít tell the entire story. Too many of their touchdown drives required a full tank of gas or Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance.

    Teams of dogs have won the Iditarod in less time than it takes Sam Bradford and the boys to complete their incredible journey for seven points.

    The Ramsí attack crawled in 2012, with an average of 8.58 plays per scoring drive. Only four NFL offenses needed more plays, on average, to put points on the board.

    When you have no choice but to put together scoring drives that last longer than a Taylor Swift romance, many things can go wrong including penalties, dropped passes, overthrows, missed blocks, stuffed running plays, sacks.

    The modern NFL is a fast-paced, big-play league, so it would help if the Rams got rid of the leather helmets.

    In 2012, NFL teams combined for 927 pass plays that gained 25 yards or more, the second-highest total since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978. And the 2011 season ranks No. 1 on that list with 950 passes of 25-plus yards.

    Notice the trend?

    The big plays arenít limited to the air. In 2012, NFL teams picked up 10-plus yards on 11.3 percent of their running plays, the third-highest rate since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

    And how did the 2012 Rams fit into this explosive offense age?

    According to STATS LLC, the Rams ranked 25th in the NFL in plays that produced 20 yards or more, with 53. They were tied for 20th in big-play TDs, with eight (all passing.)

    The Rams tied for 30th in quick-strike touchdowns ó defined as fewer than four plays ó with only two in 182 possessions.

    The Ramsí 43 completions of 20-plus yards ranked 23rd. Bradford was actually one of the higher-rated passers in throwing the deep ball in 2012, rated 12th in the category in game-film charting done by Pro Football Focus. When the big-pass opportunities were there, Bradford did a nice job of making connections. But the Rams werenít able to come up with enough of them.

    The Ramsí rushing game was solid but unspectacular. Steven Jackson has many attributes, but breakaway runs arenít among them. The 2012 Rams were only one of two teams (the other being Denver) that didnít have a touchdown run of 10-plus yards. And as a team, the Rams had only 10 runs of 20-plus yards and only one of 50-plus yards.

    I have an acquaintance in the San Francisco *****í football operation. This is what this NFC West rival told me when asked to assess the Ramsí offense: ďThe Rams are tough and physical, but they donít have a big-play receiver and they arenít a threat to break long runs. And weíre hoping it stays that way.Ē

    Itís good to hear Rams GM Les Snead preaching about the need for playmakers. Snead is aware of the limitations. Snead knows what he must do.

    Bradford threw 21 touchdown passes last season, a respectable total when viewed in the proper context. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford had 20 touchdown passes, and he works with a fellow named Calvin Johnson. Chicagoís Jay Cutler had 19 TD passes, and he gets to throw to Brandon Marshall.

    Baltimoreís Joe Flacco has Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and two polished tight ends. Flacco passed for 22 TDs. Houstonís Matt Schaub had 22 TD passes, and he has the benefit of going to Andre Johnson, an elite wideout.

    An obvious solution for the Rams is to find a true No. 1 receiver to take the top off a defense or outmuscle defenders for the physical catches. (Think Anquan Boldin.)

    Iíd be surprised if the Rams go nuts and overpay for a free-agent wideout. Perhaps the Ramsí 2012 rookie wide receivers, Chris Givens and Brian Quick will develop into formidable targets. The Rams are banking on it.

    But I agree with Snead when he says that big-play capability isnít confined to wide receivers.

    Think about how much more effective this offense would be with a more dangerous, elusive running back.

    How many more plays could Bradford make if he received more secure protection from the offensive line? Only nine NFL QBs faced more pass-rush pressure than Bradford in 2012.

    The Rams also are behind the times in establishing the tight end as a tried and true weapon in the passing game. The emergence of game-changing tight ends is among the most significant developments in the evolution of passing-game offenses over the last 15, 20 years.

    Among NFL starting quarterbacks in 2012, only Cutler targeted the tight end fewer times (based on percentage of passes attempted) than Bradford. And among the Ramsí pass completions, only 16.5 percent went to tight ends. That was near the bottom of the NFL.

    Lance Kendricks is a good blocker, and heís improved his receiving skills during his first two NFL seasons with the Rams. Iím not down on Kendricks; Iíd just like to see the Rams add a polished pass-catching TE to go with him. That might be the smartest way to attack the problem.

    In terms of position, I donít care what the Rams come up with this offseason as long as they add playmakers. It can be a wideout, a breakaway back, a slick tight end or a lockdown offensive tackle to provide more time for downfield throws.

    But the Rams canít stay grounded in 2013. Itís time to fly.


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Bernie's next column: "Water is Wet"

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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    rNemesis likes this.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    Well, there are certainly playmakers to be had in the draft.

    Arkansas TE/Hback Chris Gragg is smallish in stature but possesses great speed for a TE, running a 4.50 40 at the combine.

    And though he is coming off a knee injury, he looked to be a big playmaker in the highlights I viewed of him.

    There's Tavon Austin, who would most certainly ease the pain of losing Amendola, should he take off for free agency.

    I also like WR Ryan Swope out of Texas A&M, who looks like a bigger, faster (though not as quick) version of Amendola. Plus, I love his swagger.

    Just a few observations I had after watching the combine.
    Last edited by Fortuninerhater; -02-25-2013 at 10:57 PM.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    God I hate off season articles..

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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    Where's Sam McGuffie when you need him?

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    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    This article is hardly a newsflash and Bernie broke no new ground here, but it remains an issue that will be discussed to death until we land a player that can be a difference maker. While we have needs (like any other team in football), we are not in dire need of talent upgrades across the board like last year. It is time to prioritize the offense, identify a potential big-time playmaker and draft him.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams in dire need of playmaker

    This is why I can't stand Bernie BS. It's not that it's critical, but that it's so misplaced, and what isn't inaccurate is like listening to a woman complain about something that can not be changed.

    The 2013 Rams can't stay grounded? Really?

    They don't have an explosive running back? Really? What about Pead and Richardson?

    The don't have a fast receiver? What about Givens?

    The problem, just like it's been since I can remember is the OFFENSIVE LINE can't make the holes necessary or buy the time necessary for these big plays. IMO, Richardson can break through, and he'll probably be ready for more snaps this season, but Pead just needs an opening at the line of scrimmage. If I was coach I would drop SJ, look for another Givens type of receiver and continue looking for ways to upgrade the offensive line.

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