Dec 22, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson (38) tries to tackle St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy (30) as he carries the ball during a game at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Can The St. Louis Rams Win With A Run First Offense?

When the St. Louis Rams signed Jared Cook, a big receiving tight end, Jake Long, a pro bowl left tackle, and then traded up in the 2013 NFL Draft to take the best playmaker in the draft in Tavon Austin, it was though that the Rams would have an offense similar to the one in New Orleans.

However, with three consecutive losses at the beginning of the season throwing the ball an average of 45 times a game, it was obvious that a change needed to be made. Although Bradford was having the best stats of his career, the Rams continued to fall behind early in games and if a change wasn’t made, the Rams were going to be in serious trouble. Stats don’t always mean victories.

In week five against the Jacksonville Jaguars, head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer went back to what they were comfortable with, running the football. Zac Stacy emerged as the Rams’ go to guy on the ground and the Rams won back to back games to get back to .500.

Right when the Rams found their stride, Bradford unfortunately went down with a torn ACL, but the Rams would not turn back from their new game plan that was working. The Rams surprisingly  won four of their final nine games using this run first offense with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.

However, of those losses, four of those them came against teams in the NFC West. And although Stacy had decent numbers in the first meeting against the Seahawks and the second meeting against the 49ers running for 134 and 72 yards respectively, in the last two division games against the Cardinals and Seahawks, Stacy had only 40 yards combined despite having 29 carries.

When the Rams drafted the best run blocking tackle, Greg Robinson in the first round, there was no  doubt that the Rams were going to stick to this game plan. It was how Fisher had success in Tennessee, and it was what Schottenheimer had grown up watching.

However, that brings on the question, is it still possible to win with a run first offense and can the Rams do it especially given the fact that they struggled running the football against teams in their division?

To get to the playoffs, the Rams are going to have to do well in the division, and 40 yards in two games just isn’t going to get the job done.

In the difficult NFC West with four of the best front sevens in the league, although you do have to be able to run the football, you get one-dimensional with it, and you aren’t going to have much success, this was proven last year.

The NFL is a quarterback driven league, therefore if you can’t somewhat throw the football, you are in deep trouble.

The big difference however between this year and last year is that Sam Bradford will be back. Nothing against Kellen Clemens, but he just isn’t as accurate as Bradford and isn’t a threat throwing the football.

Without that threat, defenses, especially in the NFC West, weren’t afraid to stack the box as there wasn’t that threat through the air. However, with Bradford back, that won’t be the case.

With Sam Bradford under center next year, defenses are going to be forced to stay honest. Although Bradford isn’t Peyton Manning by any means he does pose that threat throwing the football and can get the job done.

Teams like the 49ers and Seahawks have both had success with run first offenses and playing solid defense. Even though the 49ers and Seahawks rely on running the football, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick still pose that threat through the air.

As long as the Rams have the balance running the football and Bradford can make the necessary throws, there is no reason the Rams can’t have success in a run first offense, they found success with it last year with Clemens, and it will only be better with Bradford.


Next Rams Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug8:00at Cleveland BrownsBuy Tickets

Tags: St. Louis Rams

  • trinity

    If Bradford doesn’t deliver and show major improvement, they will have no choice but to go that route until they can drop him at the end of the season.

    • cesarnoel

      Sam Bradford would be great in this type of offense as seen in 2012. His accuracy specially on play action passes is his best asset. This type of offense It will protect him more from pass rushes as the focus of the offense rest with the runningback not on the QB.

  • cesarnoel

    A run-first offense is more like a balance offense since the purpose of the this type of offense is to control he time of possession and win at the line at the trenches. I has been proven in the playoffs that this type of offense usually succeeds (Seahawks 2013, Ravens 2000, Bucaneers 2002, 1985 Bears). It’s not that the Rams will not pass the ball at all but if they can run the ball with an average of 5 to 6 yards per carry it would open up the play action passes, protect the quarterback and the control time of possession. This type of offense is greatly complements a very tough defense which the Rams have.The more you control the ball the more time for your defense to rest.

  • Natedogg265

    The was an exercise in words with no real meaning.

  • Gary Stewart

    this article brings up some solid points can we rush with the seattles and niners of the league? well resigning saffold and drafting robinson should go a long way toward that goal and the addition of tre mason will provide fresh legs in the run game. is there anyone that thinks the rams front seven isn’t gonna be awesome with 1 addition aaron donald? providing pressure right up the middle forcing qbs into the waiting arms of quinn and long, and will the run first offense loosen up the opponents secondary? bradford excels at play action and with a solid run game we should be improved in the passing game, where the rams have a chance to truly step up and compete is in special teams the variety of options and quality of weapons if fassel can get the young kids to stop committing penalties should improve the rams fie;d position greatly this year