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  1. #1
    Yodude's Avatar
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    Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    By KC Joyner

    Up until recently, when you thought of the St. Louis Rams you thought of Mike Martz using an almost recklessly aggressive play-calling scheme designed to maximize the talents of Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. This group constituted the lifeblood of the Rams' offense. Yet over the past two games, the Rams have been without their services and have won both contests.

    Common wisdom suggests that St. Louis has been scaling back its vertical passing attack with these four being out, so I took a deeper look at the Rams' passing offense under head coach Joe Vitt and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.

    I started my analysis with three questions. First, how often are the Rams passing vertically? Second, how successful have they been? Third, has their vertical pass intention percentage remained high?

    To answer the first question, here are the Rams' passes by depth over the past two games:

    Route Att Comp Yds TD Ints Penalties
    Short 36 26 225 1 0 0
    Medium 6 3 48 0 1 0
    Deep 10 2 125 1 2 47
    Totals 52 31 398 2 3 47

    There are two things that stand out to me on this chart. The first is the number of medium passes. The Rams averaged just over six medium passes per game in 2004 and were at a similar pace in '05. This pace has been cut in half during the past two games.

    The second thing that stands out is the Rams' vertical pass attempts. St. Louis typically threw 5-7 deep passes per game under Bulger, and it is still equaling that number under Jamie Martin and company. The two completions in 10 deep attempts equate to quite a low completion percentage, and the 125 yards are terribly skewed by an 83-yard TD to Kevin Curtis.

    On the plus side, though, are the 47 penalty yards. When you add the penalty yards into the mix, the Rams are averaging 17.2 yards per deep attempt, which is an excellent number. And that is before you take into account that the Rams' receivers have dropped two of the deep passes. The Rams would have gained another 53 yards if you take into account the yard marker at which the deep passes were dropped. Add that in, and the Rams would have over 20 yards per deep attempt.

    The most interesting item to me was the Rams' deep pass intent percentage and how it has changed over the course of these two games. In the New Orleans game in Week 7, the Rams attempted 29 total passes. Martin took a seven-step drop 15 times and a five-step drop eight times. Martin also took a shotgun snap and dropped five steps on two occasions and seven steps on one. One of the Rams' shorter drop depths had a medium pass attempt on it and one of the deep drops had a screen pass attempt on it.

    Add those up and you find that the Rams had vertical intentions on 26 out of those 29 passes. One of those deep drops was for a screen pass, so that makes the Rams' vertical pass intent percentage for this game 90 percent.

    The Rams attempted four medium and three deep passes in this game, so their vertical intent/attempt percentage for this game was only 27 percent. That is lower than the 35 percent total the Rams had in 2004 and is certainly a lot lower than I would have expected to see against a weak Saints secondary.

    I think the Rams' coaching staff was thinking the same thing, as their percentages greatly increased for the Jaguars game in Week 8. The Rams attempted 23 passes in this game (if you include the plays affected by penalties). Martin took 12 seven-step drops and eight five-step drops in this game. The Rams threw five screen passes off of these 20 drops, which means that Martin took 15 deep drops for vertical passes. Martin also threw two deep passes and one medium pass out of a shotgun three-step drop. Add them up and it equals 18 drops with vertical pass intentions in 23 total attempts, or a 78 percent vertical pass intent percentage.

    That percentage was lower than the Saints' game. Martin made up for this in the vertical intent/attempt percentage. Martin threw two medium and seven deep passes, equating to a 50 percent vertical intent/attempt percentage.

    The bad news for the Rams is how Martin did on those nine vertical passes in the Jaguars game:

    Route Att Comp Yds TD Ints Penalties
    Medium 2 1 18 0 0 0
    Deep 7 1 83 1 2 5
    Totals 9 2 101 1 2 5

    When you look inside the deep numbers for this game, it makes it clear the Rams haven't changed their mind-set. The Rams threw three of the deep passes at Rashean Mathis. Mathis is playing at an All-Pro level this year and the Jaguars have Kenny Wright, a journeyman seventh-year player, as their starting cornerback on the other side. Despite this disparity in talent, St. Louis threw three deep passes at Mathis with their backup quarterback and backup wide receiver. One of these was completed for the 83-yard TD to Curtis but two others were intercepted. The Rams' passing scheme is set up to attack the weakness in an opponent's scheme as much as it is set up to attack weak personnel, and throwing passes at Mathis is proof that part of their offense hasn't changed.

    One of my favorite Bill Parcells sayings is "you are who you are." The Rams' passing attack is built around attacking vertically, but they tried to get away from being who they were in the Saints game. St. Louis either ran the ball or threw short passes on its first three drives in that game and came away with 58 yards and zero points. When you consider that 43 of those 58 yards came on a run by Steven Jackson on the first play of the game, and that the Rams only got 15 yards on the other nine plays, you see their quandary.

    This isn't an offense that can change to a short passing/ball-control running game. Its personnel and playbook are simply too vested in the vertical pass game to make wholesale changes. Martin has plenty of weaknesses, including frequently staring at his receivers and forcing passes into coverage. The Rams' braintrust found out very quickly, though, the downside of Martin is more than offset by the upside of Curtis and Shaun McDonald. Curtis is good enough to be a starter on nearly any other team. McDonald isn't as good as Curtis, but he would be a starter on many teams and a top-level No. 3 receiver on any team.

    The experience Curtis and McDonald are gaining right now might actually end up making the Rams' offense even more dangerous once Bulger, Holt and Bruce return. Seattle's secondary will get quite a test this weekend if the Rams' offense comes back fully healthy.

    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

  2. #2
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    ummm, that's a lot of info.

    To summarize. The Rams still throw the ball alot, because that's what they are good at.

    No surprise.

  3. #3
    marilyn Guest

    Re: Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    Can anyone help me locate a copy of the 1999/2000 Superbowl win for the Rams?

  4. #4
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    Jeff Fisher has a copy that's never been watched. He'd probably give it to you.

  5. #5
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    So if the RAMS come out in a four wide set and run the ball they will be successful. But, since they rarely do that.......:clanram:

    One can hope.

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  6. #6
    ramsbruce's Avatar
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    Re: Perceptions about the Rams offensive changes

    Quote Originally Posted by marilyn
    Can anyone help me locate a copy of the 1999/2000 Superbowl win for the Rams?
    Try here

    Replace the 2x's with 2 t's ----->>>> hxxp://

    I have never used the site, I just heard about it so I don't know how good it is.
    Last edited by ramsbruce; -11-09-2005 at 09:07 PM.


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