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Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

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  • Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

    By Doug Farrar, Special to Yahoo! Sports 5 hours, 14 minutes ago

    The St. Louis Rams have won just six games in the past three years, with their win total declining every season – from three, to two, to one. Second-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo has tried to implement a culture of hope and accountability to this formerly moribund franchise, but it’s tough to do when players get used to losing almost by default. The good news is that the team has put together many of the winning ingredients in their past two drafts. The bad news is that from an offensive perspective, there’s such a long way to go.

    Biggest problem in 2009: An anemic offense under any circumstances

    Last season, the Rams trotted out three starting quarterbacks – Marc Bulger(notes), Kyle Boller(notes) and Keith Null(notes) – and none performed at a league-average level. One problem was an almost complete lack of playmakers; only receiver Donnie Avery(notes) and tight end Daniel Fells(notes) showed any real potential in the aerial attack, leaving running back Steven Jackson as the point man far too often. As a result, even when the Rams went with more wide-open formations, they couldn’t succeed because defenses didn’t have to take them seriously.

    Most teams are more effective in the shotgun formation; it gives quarterbacks a better look at the field, an extra second to adjust to pressure, and opens possibilities for timing-based running plays. However, the Rams saw no increase in production according to Football Outsiders. They ran plays from shotgun 39 percent of the time, 14th-highest in the NFL, but they were one of just five teams to decrease at least 20 percent in FO’s DVOA per-play efficiency metrics when in shotgun. Overall, the Rams ranked 29th in yards per game (279.4), 26th in first downs per game (16.2), and dead last in points per game (10.9). How will the Rams turn it around? They’ll start with two young tackles and a new franchise quarterback.

    The 2010 solution:
    A new shotgun start

    First overall pick Sam Bradford threw exactly one pass from under center in 2009, and it fell incomplete. Tackle Jason Smith(notes), St. Louis’ first-round pick in 2009, has been shown to be more powerful and effective from a two-point stance and out of the shotgun when blocking; it’s what he’s used to from his days at Baylor. If Smith is to take Alex Barron’s(notes) old spot at left tackle, and Bradford will lead that offense, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will be calling more than 39 percent shotgun plays in 2010. Second-round tackle Rodger Saffold(notes) is more of a traditional power blocker, which makes him a good fit for the right side. And in Jason Brown(notes), the Rams have a veteran center who can adjust protections and help the kids get with the program.

    Looking back at Bradford’s Oklahoma days, we can see how the Rams could use certain formations to take advantage of their new quarterback’s amazing deep accuracy. If the Rams can keep their protection concepts solid, they’ll be able to use the palette of shotgun sets Bradford used at Oklahoma. A favorite of mine is a play where Bradford uses his surprising mobility to roll out and hit the open receiver. In this diagram of a play against the Washington Huskies in 2008, the left wide receiver clears the cornerback, leaving the slot receiver to beat the safety one-on-one. Bradford’s scramble draws in the weak-side linebacker, ensuring that Bradford’s first read was facing single coverage. All that was left was for Bradford to hit his man above the safety, which he did.
    With Bradford taking the shotgun snaps, a better-than-expected offensive line in front of him, Jackson as the dangerous running threat, and the promise of more effective formation diversity, the Rams have a chance to get off the bottom of the NFL heap and actually surprise a few opponents in the 2010 season.

  • #2
    Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

    remember that we're a power-running offense primarily, we aren't going to start running a bunch of weak shotgun stuff because we're afraid that bradford isn't ready. the wide receivers were a huge problem last year, but these guys are healthy now and if they can stay that way we have some fire power to help bradford out, plus an improved o-line. give it some time, this team is young, we don't need to get gimmicky.


    • #3
      Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

      MY question is can one, just *one* author write an article about the rams that doesn't start with: "The rams have won just x games in y years."
      "I've been saving the Universe for over a thousand years. I figure it owes me just this once."


      • #4
        Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

        I(notes) found this hard to read(notes) because of the notes(notes) in parentheses(notes).

        I like that the author is actually trying to use examples and facts to defend his argument, rather than just broad sweeping generalizations. However, if he thinks that Bradford would be seen as a running threat at the NFL level, and thus drawing the linebacker to him when he rolls out, he's got another thing coming. The Rams won't be playing the Washington Huskies on Sunday.


        • #5
          Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

          At this point, with the depth of the team. In order to be successful, the staff is going to have to utilize all their talent in all three phases. They aren't going to be able to mold everybody into particulars of their schemes, but may have to incorporate certain player skill sets into their plans. With that, giving Smith, Safold and Bradfold the chance to run a little more shotgun sounds very entertaining.


          • #6
            Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

            I would change the name of the formation as Gilyard might not be down with hearing "shotgun" these days....


            • #7
              Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

              Originally posted by AlphaRam View Post
              I would change the name of the formation as Gilyard might not be down with hearing "shotgun" these days....
              "Cotton Candy Trips Right! Deep pass on four!"


              • #8
                Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

                I have no doubt that the Rams will incorporate more shotgun sets into their offense to play to Bradford's strength and perhaps even ease his transition a bit. But ultimately if the vision for this team is still a power running version of the WCO, it's going to be tough to feature the shotgun as much as some would suggest and still maintain that identity.

                If the Rams are willing to get away from that "power running" idea, then they could probably aim to run something closer to what Philly did with McNabb, or what teams like the Patriots or Saints are doing, where the quarterback is throwing half of his attempts in a season from the shotgun. Of course, the notable difference between the Rams and those teams is that we have a Top 3 running back but question marks at receiver, whereas those teams have strong weapons in the passing game but no standout runner.


                • #9
                  Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

                  Exactly what I was thinking Nick. Heavy shotgun use is being proven to work in the NFL, and who knows, maybe we'll be the next one to adopt it. Jax being there is a wrinkle, as he's far better than what NO or NE have, but he's also a threat as a reciever, so I think that just adds to it all. Remember, in 2006 Jax had 90 receptions and over 2000 yards from scrimmage. Going heavy shotgun just might be the way to break Bradford into the NFL.
                  I believe!:ram:


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams need to utilize Bradford in shotgun

                    What worked for him in Oklahima doesn't mean it will work for the rams. Totally different team.


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