A good read on the road ahead. Bumped by Ryan.
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious." 'The Art of War' Sun Tzu
For those of us that painstakingly stepped through the minefields of the 2011 season, this quote was befitting of Sam Bradford's year. There were very few bright spots last year in the offense and not having Sam in the huddle all year did nothing to help the cause. For those who want to blame McDaniel's complicated playbook or the short off-season does have some merit in the many failures. Rushing back from his injury or his desire to be on the field played a part also. Coach Spags ultimately was the scapegoat as he should be. His lack of a good management style did cost the Rams in many various factors during games. And looking back, the decision to shut Sam down came too late. Just imagine how bad his year would have been without the Lloyd trade.
So going into this year, the outlook is much brighter. Going back to West-cost based offense will reap great benefits. He was successful running it during his R.O.Y. season. Other than losing Lloyd to free agency, it was mostly an upgrade across all the units with the draft and free-agents signed. I for one applaud the draft the Front Office pulled off. This year's free-agents signed on offense won't guarantee pro-bowl numbers for Sam. But signing Scott Wells at center was very important, it will shore up the middle and it gets the burden of line calls away from Sam.
The icing of it all is having Coach Fisher on the sidelines. We all know he will be of the run first mantra. As the comfort level of Sam's ability to run the offense improves, it will indeed become more balanced. Just how soon depends on how much the starting offense meshes. There are still many unknowns too. Has Jason Smith and Rodger Staffold completely recovered from their injuries. Who will be the one who lines up opposite of Dahl at guard? Who will be the one(s) to step into the lead receiver role (just sick of hearing the #1 term)? Is Lance Kendricks the answer at tight-end? Can the new staff help cut down on the many many drops from last year? If the Rams gets these questions answered, should we expect progress or playoffs?
Will quarterback be the leader or just part of the machine?
If last year was the basis of this question, the answer would be a broken machine. Three quarter-backs on the roster missed time due to injuries. Although the addition of Kellen Clemons will be of some benefit this year, the erratic play of the offensive line was the true cause of the medical staff being so busy last year. Having Clemons is easily an upgrade over Feely as back-up and his knowledge of the play-book going in will help Sam also. The 3rd quarter-back position is wide open. Tom Brandstater did play last year, but he was the only option left.
Having Sam at 100% is the only sure chance the Rams have success on offense.
In the 2010 season Sam didn't put up crazy numbers, but the main success came from keeping drives alive. In comparing the quarterback numbers from 2010 to 2011, there wasn't much of a difference across the board but two numbers were clearly the difference.
Anytime you have the ball more than your opponent clearly gives you the advantage. And while the 2 minute and 45 second difference doesn't seem like much, having that time to extend two or three drives each game would translate to more points (maybe 7-10 points per game). Although the rush defense last year didn't do their part, holding on to the ball was a great difference. The 10 turnover difference between 2010 (+5) and 2011(-5) was clearly a factor. The dink n' dunk of 2010 made for a much improved completion percentage. Last year the drops hurt plenty regardless of who was behind center. If you put 2010 numbers to the 2011stats, I'm thinking that two possibly three more wins might of been possible.
What Sam will do this year.
Here's the juicy part of the melon, not matter how you cut it . I have put this together to what I think will drive the passing game to success this year. (Sorry for the quality of the videos, that's what I had to work with)
The following clips will show what has worked for Sam Bradford and the Rams the last couple years and should be in play more so this year. Everyone remembers how boring the Dunk N Dink was but don't remember how successful it was. It limited Sam's responsibilities and stayed within the strengths (or lack of) around him.
The mid level game did have some success last year but was even more effective in 2010. Most of the passing game in the West Coast offense will come at this level. As I mentioned earlier, this will be the strength of what Jeff Fisher likes to attack with.
There were three things that worked well last year that I would like to see more of. First is the no huddle. When the line meshed last year, the no huddle kept the defenses on their heels. The whole problem came from the size of the playbook, McDaniel's ego, injuries to the line and Sam being just overwhelmed with the large jump expected in his development.
Next was the roll-outs. Again, the playbook didn't utilize this enough last year and a pitiful o-line didn't help. Much of the success in 2010 was due to Sam being able to audible to this. This will be a major factor to get the draftees and free agents firmly integrated. Indications are that he's recovered from last years' set-backs. Seeing him performing this will be very encouraging going in.
Finally, running the screens more on second down will freeze the defensive backs on the side of the screen briefly. This should create an extra beat for the pulling player to get to his first contact and allow the end on that side to get to his block on the d-back without having to chip. Sounds good in theory, huh?.
The not so Bad
This years backup didn't do too bad of a job coming in last year. He picked up the play-book quickly and easily had the most production in that short period. We will see plenty of him in preseason and will be ready to step in if needed to start.
The easy way out of this is to simply say the whole 2011 season. I wanted to identify here the most glaring improvements needed for the Rams to resemble an NFL offense with Sam at quarterback. These clips illustrate the biggest offensive weakness last season. Many will argue that the lack of talent at receiver held the offense back. But with no time to throw it wouldn't matter if you had Calvin Johnson on the outside. It's pretty damn hard throwing the football on your back. I know, I've tried.
What we need to see from Sam this year
The long ball.......please Sam please!
The Human Element
Leadership is........well if you asked Sam, what would he say? I'd like to think we would love to see more of this.
It is not the Man that makes the hustle, but the hustle that makes the man!
And please Sam, you have a cover-girl partner now, don't make any more girls cry.
This year has to be the more suspenseful mystery I as a Rams fan have ever been witness to. The excitement of a new toy at Christmas doesn't compare to much bigger interest in wishing for ??-?? this season.
Here are my predictions for Sam this year:
He will not have a child out of wed-lock.
He will be a more visible leader this year.
He will be in position to win at least two games at the end due to the improved defense.
600 Attempts, 378 Completions (63%) 4085 yds. (10.8 yds. per comp) 26Tds 11Ints. 32 sacks
40 rushes 125 yds. 3 Tds.
335 votes total