The St. Louis Rams didn't give fans of the deep ball much to watch last year. Stunted passing attempts look like a thing of the past with Josh McDaniels calling the plays now. Some data on McDaniels and his Denver offense from last season offers some hope that the Rams will be extending the field a little bit more this year.
According to Pro Football Focus, Denver renaissance receiver Brandon Lloyd was one of the league's effective and frequent deep targets last season. Lloyd was targeted deep, 20+ yards, a league-leading 41 times. He also had a league leading 17 catches on deep balls (his 41.5 catch rate on those is just outside the top ten). He led in yards on deep passes with 614, and had the second-most touchdowns, 6, on deep balls. Almost 27 percent of Lloyd's targets came on deep balls.
The Rams' most likely candidate to replicate Lloyd's success deep is Donnie Avery, something we've talked about before. Avery and Lloyd have similar skill sets for players who routinely work the outside. The biggest difference is Avery's speed; he's much faster than Lloyd.
What about Mark Clayton? Well, he could just as easily be in this place too, but he has a big question to answer after his injury last season. He doesn't have Avery's speed and unlocked potential either.
Target attempts are the biggest question mark for Avery or the other deep threats in McDaniels' Rams offense. Obviously, they're doubling down on the two-TE set this season (be sure to see 3k's piece this afternoon) and have a dozen receivers competing for six spots. It's unlikely that Avery, or any other receiver on the team, will see Lloyd's 153 targets.
And that's okay. Take away the descriptors and it reveals the basic premise of McDaniels' offense: variety. With deep threats like Avery and Danario Alexander, possession guys like Pettis and Salas, a slot receiver like Amendola and the two tight ends, it's going to be difficult for opposing defenses to focus.
Now, if they can all just stay healthy...