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Thread: Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

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    Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

    By Pete Prisco

    August 16, 2013 2:46 pm PT

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has always been a run-first coach, dating back to his days with the Tennessee Titans. He still believes strongly in it, but the addition of several key weapons on offense for quarterback Sam Bradford could alter that thinking a bit.

    Or will it?

    "What we've acquired will allow us to run it more efficiently," Fisher said.

    He might say that now, but the Rams have added speed in first-round pick Tavon Austin at receiver, signed tight end Jared Cook as a free agent and added left tackle Jake Long to a line that needed help in pass protection.

    That all should help Bradford, who has been maligned in his three seasons with the Rams since being the first overall pick in 2010.

    The Rams were 18th in passing last season and 23rd in total offense. Bradford threw 21 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions and completed less than 60 percent of his passes. That's not top-overall pick type stuff.

    But Fisher is still a big believer that Bradford has what it takes to be a top quarterback.

    "There are a lot of things we have to do better around him," Fisher said. "When we do that, he will be better."

    There are some who say this is a make-or-break year for Bradford. I don't buy it. He's never had a good group of weapons and his line has been a problem his entire career.

    With improvements in both areas, look for Bradford to take some big strides.

    More observations

    • The Rams let Steven Jackson leave via free agency, so the idea is they have little left at running back. Don't believe it. Daryl Richardson is projected as the starter and the coaches are raving about him. Richardson did a nice job as the backup last year, rushing for 478 yards on 98 carries. He averaged 4.8 per rush, which was impressive. The next steps for him are handling being the No. 1 back and also short-yardage running. "I don't know if he's going to be a back that gets 80-percent of the snaps," Fisher said. That means rookie Zac Stacy and Isaiah Pead, who hasn't done much, will get their chances.

    • By signing Jake Long, the Rams have significantly upgraded their line. Long battled injuries issues in Miami, but the Rams are excited to have him. His addition allows the team to move Rodger Saffold to right tackle. That makes them stronger in two spots. Saffold is out with an injury for another week or so. The only spot of concern on the line is left guard. But the coaches like what they've seen from Chris Williams and Shelley Smith started there last season.

    • By moving up to get Austin, the Rams made a bold move in the April draft. I thought Austin was one of the best players coming into the draft and he hasn't disappointed. "He's been better than we expected," Fisher said. The big question for Austin will be how he handles the physical corners in press coverage. So far, he's done a nice job with it.

    • Second-year receiver Chris Givens, who did some good things last season, has also impressed. He might be one of the most-improved players in the league. He has been much more committed this year to becoming a better player.

    • The Rams defensive line is as talented a young group as there is in the league. With ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, plus Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford inside, the Rams had 52 sacks in 2012 to tie Denver for the league lead. Long has played at a Pro Bowl level the past two seasons, but still hasn't made his way to the game, while Brockers and Quinn have that type of ability. There is also a lot of depth. William Hayes, a backup end, was re-signed as a free agent and he could start on a lot of teams.

    • The corners are solid with Janoris Jenkins and veteran Cortland Finnegan, but the guy who has impressed is rookie Brandon McGee from Miami. As a former track star, he is raw. But he has impressed with how quickly he has picked up things and could push second-year corner Trumaine Johnson for the nickel job.

    • While the corners are solid, I worry about the safeties. They appear to have two strong safeties in Darian Stewart and T.J. McDonald. They might have some problems in coverage, but the tackling should be better than in 2012.

    There, I said it

    • Richardson will rush for 1,300 yards and show he is plenty capable of being an every-down back.

    • Defensive tackle Michael Brockers will be a Pro Bowl player.

    • Jenkins will make big strides as a ball-hawking corner and also push for a spot.

    • Tavon Austin will have 75 catches and be in the Offensive Rookie of the Year talk.

    • The Rams will be a Super contender in 2014. They look to be a year away.


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    Re: Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

    Prisco makes some bold predictions- ones which I hope come to fruition, but I'd be shocked if Richardson gets 1300 yards and equally surprised if the Rams don't indeed throw it more. Certainly game situation and score dictate what teams do, and I understand Fisher likes the run. But I have a hard time believing that with the additions of Cook, Austin and Bailey, the growth of Givens and the emergence (hopefully) of Quick that Bradford won't be throwing the ball 35 times a game. Of course we don't want Bradford throwing 50 TIMES a game because when a guy throws that often it usually means his team is playing catch-up.

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    Re: Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    But I have a hard time believing that with the additions of Cook, Austin and Bailey, the growth of Givens and the emergence (hopefully) of Quick that Bradford won't be throwing the ball 35 times a game.
    Averaging 35 attempts per game would cause Sam to throw the ball only nine times more than he did in 2012.

    Throwing it more might not be necessary. The highest number of passing attempts Kurt Warner ever attempted in St. Louis is five lower than the number Sam threw last year. Bradford finished 11th in the league in attempts in 2012. Aaron Rodgers attempted only one more pass on the season than Sam.

    The difference is yards per attempt. Using Warner as an example, he was getting 8.8 ypa. Rodgers not only completed nearly 8% more of his passes than Sam (with more credited drops by receivers), but averaged over a full yard more per attempt. Of the Top 15 QBs when ranked by most pass attempts, Bradford's YPA was the lowest, although Stafford (who led the league in attempts) was only a tenth off. But still, the point is clear.

    The key for Bradford might not necessarily be throwing it more, but completing more passes and gaining more yards when he throws. While I like him as a player, losing Danny "Career Single Digit YPR" Amendola and replacing him with guys like Cook and Austin who can go the distance will be a good first step.

    Setting statistical expectations is kind of a dangerous line to walk, but I'd like to see Sam improve his completion percentage into the 60-63% range (he was only 59.5% last year so not a big difference) while improving his YPA by 0.5-0.8. The improvement of the players around him will go a long way in helping Sam improve on his own production. If you take Sam's 2012 number of attempts and simply improve the YPA to 7.4, he'd have his first 4,000 yard passing season.

    So longwindedness out of the way, I don't think they necessarily have to throw it more, just more efficiently.
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    Re: Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Averaging 35 attempts per game would cause Sam to throw the ball only nine times more than he did in 2012.

    Throwing it more might not be necessary. The highest number of passing attempts Kurt Warner ever attempted in St. Louis is five lower than the number Sam threw last year. Bradford finished 11th in the league in attempts in 2012. Aaron Rodgers attempted only one more pass on the season than Sam.

    The difference is yards per attempt. Using Warner as an example, he was getting 8.8 ypa. Rodgers not only completed nearly 8% more of his passes than Sam (with more credited drops by receivers), but averaged over a full yard more per attempt. Of the Top 15 QBs when ranked by most pass attempts, Bradford's YPA was the lowest, although Stafford (who led the league in attempts) was only a tenth off. But still, the point is clear.

    The key for Bradford might not necessarily be throwing it more, but completing more passes and gaining more yards when he throws. While I like him as a player, losing Danny "Career Single Digit YPR" Amendola and replacing him with guys like Cook and Austin who can go the distance will be a good first step.

    Setting statistical expectations is kind of a dangerous line to walk, but I'd like to see Sam improve his completion percentage into the 60-63% range (he was only 59.5% last year so not a big difference) while improving his YPA by 0.5-0.8. The improvement of the players around him will go a long way in helping Sam improve on his own production. If you take Sam's 2012 number of attempts and simply improve the YPA to 7.4, he'd have his first 4,000 yard passing season.

    So longwindedness out of the way, I don't think they necessarily have to throw it more, just more efficiently.
    Good stuff Nick. Can you let us know where the Rams receivers ranked in YAC? I really think this is the key to the Rams having a better offense this year. With playmakers like Austin, Givens and Cook catching the balls that went to DA, Pettis and Gibby. I'm hoping they can do more with it in their hands then the last group.

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    Re: Rams Observations: Will they throw it more now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Good stuff Nick. Can you let us know where the Rams receivers ranked in YAC? I really think this is the key to the Rams having a better offense this year. With playmakers like Austin, Givens and Cook catching the balls that went to DA, Pettis and Gibby. I'm hoping they can do more with it in their hands then the last group.
    Rams receivers ranked 22nd in the league in YAC. Being able to gain more yards after the catch will certainly help.
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