It should come as no surprise that the St. Louis Rams spent a fair share of yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage working on red zone drills. The Rams struggled mightily in the red zone last year, even when they were able to move the ball fairly well between the 20s. One big key to success this year will be scoring more than 18 points per game, and that will come from converting more of those trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
With Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford leading the way, the Rams did a good job moving down the field. They had a DVOA of 7.1 percent, according to Football Outsiders, in the "mid" zone between the 40-yard lines. Between an opponent's 40 and 20-yard lines, the Rams had a DVOA of 11.6 percent. Both of which tell you why they had the fourth most opportunities inside the red zone in the league last year. And that's where the dissonance starts.
The 2010 Rams had a -63 percent DVOA inside the red zone last year, the worst in the league. They also ranked 29th in the red zone passing DVOA and 31st for red zone rushing DVOA. That should change this year.
Defenses simply bunched up at the line and boxed the Rams in last year. Adding Harvey Dahl should pay big dividends for running ball, opening up lanes that were never there last year. Even in a pass-first league, don't completely ignore the need to muscle up and push the ball down the middle of the field.
A new arsenal of receiving options should help as well. Big, physical targets like Austin Pettis and tight ends like a healthy Michael Hoomanawanui and Lance Kendricks will give Bradford sturdier options and bigger, more sure handed targets. Then of course, there's Danny Amendola, who might be more of a threat to score this year. Mike Sims-Walker could be the real asset for work in the red zone. Over the last two years, he's been the most effective red zone receiver in the NFL. Brandon Gibson's emergence could be a real factor as well.