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Thread: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

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    Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short
    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ


    [www.stltoday.com]


    It's time to check in on the adventures of the Rams' Checkdown Sammy!!! passing game...


    Rams QB Sam Bradford has attempted 141 passes in three games, the most in the National Football League.


    How's this working out?


    The Rams are coming up short.


    The Rams are throwing it early and often ... but to tap an old Chuck Berry lyric, the airborne football has no particular place to go.


    Whether it's because of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's boring design, or Bradford's seemingly embedded safety-first protective instinct, the Rams are leading the NFL in passes that don't amount to a damned thing.


    I'll try to explain through the numbers:


    * As we told you, no team has attempted more passes than the Rams. And Bradford also leads the NFL with 88 completions.


    * However: Bradford ranks 27th among quarterbacks with an average of 6.32 yards per attempt.


    * Bradford ranks 30th with an average of 10.13 yards per completion.


    * Bradford ranks 32nd with an average of 4.1 yards at the point of the catch. Just to be clear: when a Rams' player makes the reception, he's pulling it in, on average, only 4.1 yards from the line of scrimmage.


    * I'll try to put that into context. This stat has been tracked since 1991; no data is available before '91. But since '91, Bradford's average of 4.1 yards at the point of reception is the lowest by a Rams QB in a season. It's been only three games, but obviously this is a wrong-way trend. By the way, Kurt Warner and Trent Green averaged 7.6 yards at the point of the catch between 1999 and 2001. Jim Everett (1991) had the highest average, 12.4 yards.


    * Bradford has attempted 41 passes that have been directed and caught behind the line of scrimmage. Only Atlanta's Matt Ryan (with 42) has more of those. But Ryan's small stuff usually works, and he also stretches the field with downfield throws. Ryan ranks 13th with an average of 7.64 yards per attempt.


    * Bradford has 74 attempts on passes that travel between 1 and 10 yards in the air, the third-highest NFL total. Bradford (by far) has attempted the most passes in the NFL that travel 10 yards or fewer.


    * If you total the Bradford passes thrown 10 yards or less, you come up with 116 attempts ... and that represents an astounding 81.5 percent of his total passing attempts.


    * By throwing so many short passes, you'd think we'd see a very high completion rate and efficiency rating. It hasn't happened. Bradford has completed 65.2 percent of his short throws, which is relatively mediocre and slightly below the league average on passes that travel 10 yards or fewer. His passer rating on short throws is nothing special, 87.1. The league average is 87.4.


    * Only three of Bradford's 141 attempts have traveled between 21 and 30 yards in the air.


    * Only five of the 141 have traveled 31+ yards in the air.


    * Bradford has done very well on intermediate routes -- ranging from 11 to 20 yards -- by completing 12 of 18 for 277 yards. That's 15.3 yards per attempt. And he has a passer rating of 109.7 on these throws.


    Here's why I'm confused and bothered...


    If the checkdowns and dump-offs were clicking to give the Rams a consistently good result, I wouldn't complain. I don't care how you pick up chunks of yards and move the chains to advance up the field to score points -- as long as you get it done, that's all that matters. But these short passes aren't getting it done. They aren't producing a high volume of yards, and the efficiency is barely league average.


    So what is the point, exactly?


    I know rookie WR Tavon Austin caught two TD passes in the Atlanta game. But he's been wasted otherwise. Schottenheimer continues to call plays that have Austin making the catch near the line of scrimmage, where defensive lookouts are waiting to smother him.


    Here's all you need to know about the way Schottenheimer is using Austin: among 86 qualifying NFL receivers, Austin ranks 83rd with an average of 3.8 yards at the point of the catch. Again, it's only three games, but the Rams aren't even close to putting Austin in position to make big plays.


    Given that Bradford and his receivers have made some positive connections on the passes that travel between 11 and 20 yards, why haven't we seen more of them?


    Why is Schottenheimer insisting on pecking away at defenses with passes that barely leave a scratch mark?


    And this leads to a full-circle problem.


    By refusing to stretch the field, the Rams make it much easier for the defense to bury Rams backs and receivers on these little mini-passes that Schottenheimer is addicted to.


    If the Rams actually tried to push the ball down the field, the defense might have to adjust and be on the lookout. And in theory the short passing game would have more of a chance to flourish.


    I don't want to pin all of this on Schottenheimer; as I've written several times already this season, Bradford seems awfully quick to check it down.


    I've listened to the suggestion that these short passes are an extension of the running game; Schottenheimer said as much last week. That claim may be valid on some of these attempts, but for the most part I'm not buying it.


    This would be plausible if you had Marshall Faulk or Terry Metcalf catching passes out of the backfield. But the Rams don't even have anyone the caliber of Kevin Faulk or Eric Metcalf.


    This passing game won't grow _ and the opposing defense won't back off _ until the Rams begin mixing in more more intermediate and deeper routes.


    After the Rams added playmakers to their cast, we were told things would change. There was only one problem with believing that: the offensive coordinator is the same.


    Thanks for reading..

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Two
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Good read. Hopefully, this changes soon. BTW, I always felt Jimbo did not get enough credit as a Ram QB. Nice to see his name.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Nick, I'm not sure what game you have been watching this year bro, but its not as if our WR's are creating separation and/or catching the ball on a consistent basis. What else is the QB to do but check down???

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Quote Originally Posted by ManofGod View Post
    Nick, I'm not sure what game you have been watching this year bro, but its not as if our WR's are creating separation and/or catching the ball on a consistent basis. What else is the QB to do but check down???
    Nick just posted Bernie's article/opinion - not his own.. That said, I agree with you that our receivers have come well short of setting the world afire and gaining Sam's confidence. A drop is a drop whether it is 5 -10 - 20 yards or more, not to mention wrong routes and other screw-ups.

    Perhaps Schotty will try some new wrinkles come Thursday night. After last week, he might want to see how far Sam can throw it from a prone position. I dunno man, maybe we should all say a prayer .. The good news is: The whiners appear in even greater disarray!!
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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Bernie and a lot of us think the offense side of the ball is our biggest issue. I'm not surprised with the Cowboys game being the freshest on everyone's mind. My displeasure is with our defense! They are under achieving bigtime. Our defense needs to get stops and put the ball in the hands of our offense. Our defense needs to get more turnovers. Our first game of the season Robert Quinn got the turnovers for us and what happened? We won....How about we get an interception here or there? Is that too much to ask? C'mon defense it's time to start playing like we all know you can!

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    I think this is a by-product and conditioned response by Bradford due to his NFL career so far.
    No matter who the OC has been, Bradford has always preferred the short, quick passes for whatever-the-reason.
    Now BShot isnt helping the matter ATM either.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    It's been only three games, but obviously this is a wrong-way trend.

    Here is the issue I have with this it's only been three weeks. The only trend I see is we are always playing from behind. Lets get real does anyone really think that a Jeff Fisher and Schottenheimer team would game plan to have a pass to run ratio of 3-1 with us passing the ball more? We have run the ball 56 times and passed the ball 141. Does that seem like what Fisher and Schottenheimer want to do or is that driven by the circumstances of the games we have played? I think we all agree it's not the plan, so why drive into the results and try and fault the play calling and or QBs lack of aggressiveness.

    I'm not saying that both don't have to get better IMO they both do. But these numbers are IMO bad data and it's not a real snap shot of who we will be and or want to be

    Fisher wants us to believe we are not balanced due to lack of opportunity. We are not balanced because we have not been successfully running the ball early in any of the games we have played. Our defense has given up points early and often in the first half of all three games.

    Cards scored on the opening drive.
    Falcons scored on the opening drive.
    Cowboys scored on the opening drive.

    The offense did not help by giving up seven points in the first two games to put us further in the hole.
    Last edited by Rambos; -09-25-2013 at 11:36 AM.
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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    It's been only three games, but obviously this is a wrong-way trend.

    Here is the issue I have with this it's only been three weeks. The only trend I see is we are always playing from behind. Lets get real does anyone really think that a Jeff Fisher and Schottenheimer team would game plan to have a pass to run ratio of 3-1 with us passing the ball more? We have run the ball 56 times and passed the ball 141. Does that seem like what Fisher and Schottenheimer want to do or is that driven by the circumstances of the games we have played? I think we all agree it's not the plan, so why drive into the results and try and fault the play calling and or QBs lack of aggressiveness.

    I'm not saying that both don't have to get better IMO they both do. But these numbers are IMO bad data and it's not a real snap shot of who we will be and or want to be

    Fisher wants us to believe we are not balanced due to lack of opportunity. We are not balanced because we have not been successfully running the ball early in any of the games we have played. Our defense has given up points early and often in the first half of all three games.

    Cards scored on the opening drive.
    Falcons scored on the opening drive.
    Cowboys scored on the opening drive.

    The offense did not help by giving up seven points in the first two games to put us further in the hole.
    And AFTER WE RECOVERED THE PUNT RETURN FUMBLE IN COWBOY territory to boot!

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    I know rookie WR Tavon Austin caught two TD passes in the Atlanta game. But he's been wasted otherwise. Schottenheimer continues to call plays that have Austin making the catch near the line of scrimmage, where defensive lookouts are waiting to smother him.
    How many people thought Tavon was going to be catching the ball down field? I expected a lot of screen passes, bubble screens, slants, jerk routes ect. I did not think he would be catching 20 yard dig routes. He is a slot guy not a wide-out.

    The Rams have really tried to get him the ball as they should. They moved up and spent a lot of picks and money on him. He has been the most targeted WR with 26, almost 10 a game. He has the most catches with 18. Here is the rub, he has the lowest yard per catch on the team, with a staggering 6.6 yards per catch. Tavon's longest catch is 14 yards. Chris Given leads the team with an avg, of 20.7 per catch, but he only has 9 catches.

    The solution is to get Givens the ball more for sure and start finding better routes and or plays to get Austin in space, Getting him further down the field when he catches the ball would be nice.

    It was kind of hard to do this in Dallas as we where being dominated by the blitz and front four of the Cowboys. Like I said three games is not much to go on.

    It's clear Austin needs to be more productive if he's going to catch the most balls.

    I also think Pettis is not good enough to be the number two he has an 8.8 yards per catch. Holt and Bruce both avg. over 14 in their careers.

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    [QUOTE=Rambos;470858]How many people thought Tavon was going to be catching the ball down field? I expected a lot of screen passes, bubble screens, slants, jerk routes ect. I did not think he would be catching 20 yard dig routes. He is a slot guy not a wide-out.

    .

    I also think Pettis is not good enough to be the number two he has an 8.8 yards per catch. Holt and Bruce both avg. over 14 in their careers.[/QUOTE

    I agree on Pettis and I smh over Brain Quick

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    It seems most of the throws to Austin are behind the line of scrimmage and there is already 4 players surrounding him and we expect him to get YAC like that.

    Would like to see more slants from him or maybe a slant double move like a ' V '

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    Re: Ram Bytes: Passing game comes up short

    I've said this before and I'll say it again, this is who Bradford is. He's a game manager. He plays it safe to avoid mistakes. He will never play up to his talent because he plays with fear. I'm not knocking him, just saying what I see. For his entire NFL career so far he has looked for check down first. We've made every excuse, it's the receivers, it's the OC, it's the line. Well, some of that maybe true, but you can't ignore the fact that all of things have changed, but the 1 constant is Sammy. Maybe he doesn't give the receivers time to get separation, maybe he targets 1 receiver instead of reading the field. Maybe his fearful style is what's turning our redzone opportunities to FG instead of TDs. Again, not bashing Sammy because as I said before you can win in the league with that type of QB, but it's time we as fans accept him for what he is and stop making excuses or expecting him to become "elite".

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