With the news of the Jacksonville Jaguars electing to go with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Bradford and the Rams offense should prosper in the return of Brian Schottenheimer. His return marks the first time in Bradford’s NFL career that he will have the same OC and offensive scheme in consecutive seasons.
This move has given Rams’ fan a quite a bit of excitement, but it also means added pressure on the offense next year. Despite dry spells and reoccurring stalls, Schottenheimer did improve the Rams’ offense. In 2012, the Rams had a total of 261 points (excluding defensive scores). St. Louis only scored 175 in 2011. The offense crossed the goal line 27 times this year, up from a meager 16 touchdowns in last year’s abysmal season. Nine of those 16 came in the air, in 2012 the Rams had 22 passing touchdowns.
In the second half of the season, Bradford posted some of the league’s top red-zone passing stats. He improved in all of the important categories in the air, including accuracy on the deep pass, and accuracy under pressure. All of this may sound like I’m describing the Packers’ offense, well, not so much, but the Rams still ranked near the bottom in point per game at 28th, and 23rd in yards.
As far as I’m concerned, there are only positives to be seen of Schottenheimer’s return. So what is it to be made of the 2013 version of Sam Bradford?
I say it’s time to take off the training wheels.
In a league where the offense is becoming ever so prevalent and teams are catering the offense around their franchise quarterback, it is time for Bradford to show why he was a Heisman Trophy recipient and the number one overall pick. The Indianapolis Colts have installed an offense that allows Andrew Luck to chuck it up and down the field early and often. Quarterbacks like Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers run some variant form of the zone-read, spread option.
I’m not saying St. Louis should revive the failure of the Josh McDaniel’s aerial offense or install a pistol formation, but Bradford does have an elite arm and what I like to call escapeability. Bradford has squirmed his way out of a collapsed pocket to convert a number of third and longs this season.
The importance of constancy isn’t stressed enough in the development of a quarterback, just ask Alex Smith of the 49ers. He had five different offensive coordinators. He’s probably thrown his last pass in a 49ers uniform as Kaepernick continues to dazzle.
Tom Brady has had three offensive coordinators in New England, but they all have been groomed within the Patriots’ system. Before Peyton Manning set off for Denver, he and Tom Moore was together for twelve years in Indianapolis. Since Drew Brees’ arrival in New Orleans, Pete Carmichael and Sean Payton has been inseparable. Payton is now inked for five more years.
This is year two for Schottenheimer and year four for Bradford, now that the building blocks have been laid, it is time for this offense to become more dynamic and more in Bradford’s control. With continued improvement in free agency and the draft to sure up the offensive line and a legitimate no. 1 wideout (the jury is still out on Brian Quick), the Rams’ offense is pointing upward.