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Thread: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

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    Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    The second, third and fourth rounds of the Rams' 2011 draft provided plenty of clues about what to expect in the coming season.

    The three picks offered a glimpse inside the team's playbook under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

    The choices represented an obvious acknowledgement of the organization's mandate to secure help for young quarterback Sam Bradford.

    In selecting tight end Lance Hendricks and wide receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, the Rams made a statement about the need make a dramatic improvement in the red zone.

    And the choices revealed a willingness to import receivers to give shape to the McDaniels' passing offense.

    The Rams' approach caught a lot of fans off guard and I'm not sure why. Let me see if I understand this correctly: the Rams have invested $50 million in Bradford, the franchise future. It is believed that the Rams are paying McDaniels a handsome salary to orchestrate the offense.

    Bradford was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010, and he helped the Rams win improve by six wins in his first season with a so-so receiving cast. The team's hiring of McDaniels was greeted with glowing, enthusiastic, reviews. The many rippers of former Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur were ecstatic.

    OK, then. Doesn't it make sense to draft three targets for Bradford and three moveable pieces for McDaniels? Did you folks really want to stand pat? And did the critics actually watch the 2010 Rams play football?

    Here's a refresher course: the Rams finished 30th among 32 NFL teams in touchdowns from scrimmage. Their average of 18.1 points per game ranked 26th.

    In the red zone (inside opponents' 20-yard line) the Rams ranked 30th in the NFL in converting those opportunities to touchdowns. Only five NFL teams had more red-zone possessions than the Rams, but 23 teams scored more red-zone touchdowns.

    The Rams ranked 29th in the NFL in red-zone passer rating, and 28th in red-zone completion percentage. Over his final seven games, Bradford completed only 41 percent of his red-zone passing attempts, and had a RZ passer rating of 43. The Rams moved the football but couldn't find the end zone enough. And that had to change, or 2011 will look a lot like 2010 when the Rams have the football.

    The response was to draft three athletic, physical receivers that can use size, muscle and body position to win tough battles for contested footballs in the end zone. The Rams lacked that element in 2010.

    Pettis (6-3) and Salas (nearly 6-2) play tall, are tenacious and have a history of high-volume production in college ball. All they did was make plays. And Kendricks has the speed and range to beat the linebackers one-on-one; he's athletic. And all three have a good-hands reputation. Rams wideouts and tight ends dropped 30 passes last season.

    The Rams added a new and necessary dimension to their passing game. More size and punch at wide receiver; more mobility at tight end.

    "I think there's a fit," head coach Steve Spagnuolo said of his three new receivers. "I think we're flexible enough and versatile enough to take these players and use them wisely. I think it can go a lot of different ways, and I kind of like that. Because people that we're going to play have to look at it the same way: how are they going to do this? When you're unpredictable, that's the best way to be."

    Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney took some gambles, sure. The bust rate for wideouts drafted in the third and fourth round is high, so the Rams are taking a chance. Then again, over the previous five drafts, teams found Mike Wallace, Mario Manningham, Jacoby Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Austin Collie, Brandon Tate, Mike Williams, Earl Bennett, Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Jacoby Ford in rounds three or four.

    And tight ends recently chosen in the second round include Rob Gronkowski, John Carlson, Zach Miller, Fred Davis and Tony Scheffler. With a few busts, too.

    That's the NFL draft; there are no guarantees. But at least Devaney and Spagnuolo had the common sense to realize that flowers wither and die unless you water them. The bosses could have settled for a guard, a backup running back, etc. In a couple of years we'll know if Devaney and Spags were brilliant -- or sadly off base -- in their assessments.

    The McDaniels influence is obvious here. We can assume that the new OC isn't thrilled by the Rams' collection of wide receivers. Several veterans will have to duke it out for jobs, and that's how it should be. This is a mediocre group and the Rams should be trying to upgrade. Especially in the red zone.

    And tight ends can be elite, game-changing receivers, too. I can't understand why that point seems to be lost on those who have spent the last 24 hours caterwauling over the Kendricks selection.

    A list of some of the most difficult NFL receivers to shut down would include tight ends Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Todd Heap, Chris Cooley and Kellen Winslow Jr. (That's just a partial roll call.) The New England Patriots got 87 receptions, 16 for touchdowns, from young tight ends Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last season.

    And by drafting Kendricks, the Rams hope to join this brave new world of using the tight end as something more than a battering ram. A smooth tight end running free and wild in open space this would be a positive, no? And in Kendricks and Big Mike, the Rams have that potential.

    There are also pragmatic concerns. When I spoke with Devaney on Saturday, he mentioned that McDaniels wants to make use of two tight-end sets and is excited by the thought of putting Kendricks and Hoomanawanui on the field at the same time to exploit mismatches and create space for the outside receivers.

    Devaney was bugged by the suggestion that the Rams were negligent in not drafting a pure "speed" wide receiver to stretch the defense.

    "There's all different ways that you spread a defense out," he said. "You can spread them out vertically and horizontally. Wide receivers don't have to be the ones stretching a defense all of the time. I think Josh used a great term in one of our meetings, about 'stressing' a defense. Not just stretching it, but putting stress on a defense. And that's what we're trying to do, just by adding players who are multi-dimensional."

    Devaney has a point. In Denver, the McDaniels scheme turned Brandon Lloyd into a formidable deep threat in 2010. Lloyd caught 77 passes and led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards. His average per catch of 18.8 yards was fifth in the NFL. Lloyd had the most receptions of 25 yards or more. He averaged 15.9 yards at the point of the catch; that was No. 2 in the NFL.

    It was easily one of the most surprising successful individual seasons in the league last season. Lloyd was considered a journeyman before McDaniels relaunched him.

    And Lloyd is hardly Usain Bolt. Lloyd clocked a 4.62 in his 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and was called "painfully slow" in one predraft report. I checked the 40 times and the Rams' current wideouts are faster than Lloyd. So is Pettis. And Salas is just as fast as Lloyd.

    So how did Lloyd repeatedly burn defenses downfield last season. Much of the credit goes to McDaniels, who found ways to isolate Lloyd, who was able to break away from single coverage.

    Speed kills.

    Ah, but so does scheme.

    "Hell, you can put a daggum track guy out there and stretch the field and he can't catch the damn thing," Devaney said. "He doesn't make a difference, but you've got a 'flyer' out there. Big deal. There's all different ways you can go about it."

    McDaniels may have been a poor head coach, but the dude knows how to design an offense. And you don't need to be "Bullet" Bob Hayes to catch deep passes in his offense.

    Sure, the Rams had needs that went unfilled in the 2011 draft. I wish they would have gone for a backup RB at some point. But they couldn't have everything. And you don't go to the trouble and expense of drafting Bradford and hiring McDaniels without following up with a serious investment in the passing game.

    Yeah, the Rams still need that No. 2 running back, an outside linebacker and a guard.

    And that's what owner Stan Kroenke's checkbook is for when the free-agent market opens.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    What did they do to Bernie?

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    The Rams couldn't run in the RZ (or any short situation consistently,for that matter) which also kind of wastes the big investment/talent in SJ,no? Or keep Sam properly protected on the interior line so they didn't have to call that right rollout every series inside the 10 & rely on Sam's mobility & accuracy on the run to have a chance of getting the ball near a Ram in the endzone instead of letting him get in touch with his inner Peyton in the pocket which he seems so capable of doing .

    I have no problem with the potential upgrades in the passing game skill players but I'm not buying that the guard/RB holes are any smaller because of them or a change in OC. That stuff is basic to any scheme, no matter how big or fast the flyboys or clever the gameplan. I think the draft cookie just crumbled that way & DeSpags stuck to their MO. This team needed help everywhere so need never had a chance to trump BPA.

    I'd be more inclined to believe Bernie's scoffing guff-don't worry, Rammed, he's still a chucklehead; he's just regurgitating ideas from much more astute football minds that make him sound smart- if guys like Rackley,Ridley,Murray,Green,et al, had been passed over in favor of The Rams WR picks but they were gone.

    Whip out that WAL-let, indeed, Stan; this thing ain't fixed yet.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    I would say besides our 1st Round Pick, One could argue that every pick we made could have been available in our next pick of the next round.

    Therefore, to reach for these guys puts more pressure on the front office, especially when there were higher rated prospects available.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    There is absolutely no evidence that any of these guys would have been available in the next round. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but its pure speculation. According to the rams view of their draft board, there were not higher rated prospects available. The fact that guys like kipper (or any of us as fans on this board) thought that there were higher rated guys available does not make them higher rated. When you own a company, you hire managers to run that company and you defer to their judgment. The fact that other advisors might have different opinions on company strategy doesnt mean that those outside advisors are correct.

    The Rams drafted in areas of what they believed to be their needs compared to what was available in other areas of need at that time. There is no reason to believe that we didnt draft the best value available, in the rams opinion.

    The only way to know that you could get guys one pick later, let alone one round later, is to see the other teams draft boards, which is obviously impossible.

    I think the article by bernie makes sense and i think its a reality that people on this board overvalue the current rams receivers compared to the coaching staff's view of what we have. Bernie is correct. We have a ton invested in bradford and we have to do our best to give him the best chance to succeed. Our red zone performance (or lack thereof) speaks for itself.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel

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    Re: Bernie: Rams drafted to help Bradford, offense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by richtree View Post
    I would say besides our 1st Round Pick, One could argue that every pick we made could have been available in our next pick of the next round.
    As GC said, pure speculation. Its just as likely that Arizona passed on a QB in Round 1 beliving that Christian Ponder would be there in Round 2.

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