Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams Should Avoid Confusing Offensive Identity Again


 

The offensive identity of the St. Louis Rams shifted greatly last season. The front office added a talented tight end in Jared Cook, and they drafted West Virginia receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to compliment Chris Givens and Austin Pettis. All of a sudden Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was a kid in a candy store. The Rams were set to create a pass first spread offense that harkened back to quarterback Sam Bradford’s Heisman winning days at Oklahoma.

Opening day against Arizona showed us a glimpse of how dangerous the Ram aerial attack could be when firing on all cylinders. Bradford shredded the Card’s defense for 299 yards and two touchdown tosses, en route to a QB rating of 100.7. As the season wore on however, the Rams struggled with becoming one-dimensional and they were losing by large deficits.

The emergence of RB Zac Stacy, the fifth-round pick  out of Vanderbilt, completely changed how the Rams attacked defenses. We got to see a small sample of what the offense may look like next year with a healthy Bradford and an established running back behind him in the Jacksonville and Houston games.

Unfortunately all of that momentum was halted when Bradford tore his ACL in Carolina. The Rams then shifted completely away from the pass and they ran through Stacy for the rest of the season. They were able to get four wins, and most of them came from establishing the run and playing stout defense (with the exception of the Colts game – still laughing about that one).

With Bradford coming back healthy, the Rams may be tempted to use their stable of receivers and tight ends to spread out defenses again (especially with the addition of WR Kenny Britt and the emergence of Bailey). Schottenheimer should avoid falling in love with a pass heavy offensive scheme again. The Rams are in need of balance, forcing defenses to play the run and pass equally.

This strategy would utilize the variety of weapons the the receiving corps possesses and it would also add longevity to Stacy’s career and increase his effectiveness. Despite Stacy’s tackle breaking ability, if defenses are loading the box he may struggle – especially after he established himself as a legitimate ‘number one’ back last year. Teams will gameplan around shutting him down and the Rams need to be able to exploit them through the air when that happens.

The Rams have been searching for an offense identity and this year could be when they figure it out. The Blue and Gold are unique in that they have multiple tight ends sets, which they can use on the ground or through the air. TE Cory Harkey has been a boon for the offense’s potential. He is an adept blocker and a willing receiver, and he joins Cook and Lance Kendricks in what is potentially the deepest TE corps in the National Football League. Schottenheimer would be wise to use that strength to attack defenses in multiple ways, taking full advantage of their positional depth.

 

Tags: Offense St. Louis Rams

  • Gary Stewart

    thanks mark, a position i share and all this grab watkins at #2 should be put to bed draft defense bolster the o line and run the ball down their throats. i keep hearing we need a change of pace back i say d-rich already fills that slot lets take a 6 2 240 rb in rd 3-4 to add 5-10 carries to soften the opposing defenses. run to set up the pass then pass to set up the run. adjust the game plan at the line of scrimmage based on the opponents safety it is quite simple.

    • ricdram

      Bam Gary ! Additionaly our 3rd down efficiency must improve dramatically in
      2014. That 3 n’ out killed us last year.
      Perhaps our Offensive I’D can be :
      ” BALL CONTTOL PLUS ” . Yes ?

      • Gary Stewart

        i am on record as saying don’t worry about the interception so much when you have 3rd and 8-9. drop back and let the ball fly if it goes 50 yards downfield and is caught great if they commit PI great its a 50 yard penalty or at least an automatic 1st down if its incomplete you have the pro bowl punter boot it away and if the 50 yarder is intercepted you tackle the guy and its like a 45 yard punt on 3rd down better than 3rd and 9 run for 3 or check down for 5 and punt anyway at least this gives the rams a chance at a big play!!

  • drewspinoso

    I think our line sucks and our coaches are worse.

  • docmike

    Best off-season move this team should have done was to send Shotty packing along with Walton. He is the most unimaginative O.C. in football & i find it mind-boggling he continues to have a job. Rams will never play to their potential with this slug calling plays.

    • Ryan

      Agreed, all he does is ruin the careers of young promising QB’s. I honestly don’t see how Shotty has kept his job, even knowing that Fisher really wants continuity in the offense. I can sit on my couch and call what the next offensive play will be at about 50% accuracy, so you know the defensive coordinators in the league are guessing much better than that. “Tavon Austin 3 yard button hook”

  • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

    I think the Rams are now established what that want to run for their offense: West Coast Offense (running the ball as the primary offensive attack). Why? because this type of offense was the same offense that Sam Bradford excelled at in 2010.