The St. Louis Rams And The Play-Action Pass, An Analysis

June 12, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws during minicamp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Good news, bad news. The St. Louis Rams were not horrible defending the play-action last season. They were hardly great, and the play-action was generally more successful than not against the Rams, but they had a respectable showing against it. When it came to running the play-action, which was kind of the centerpiece of the offense, they were not very good at it.

Let's review.

Football Outsiders ran the numbers on teams using and defending the play-action last season.

The Rams offense leaned heavy on the play-action, running it on 24 percent of all offensive snaps. Only three teams used it more. St. Louis averaged 5.8 yards per play, the same number for play-actions where the ball was actually thrown, i.e. taking out sacks, scrambles, penalties, etc. The Rams had a DVOA of -11 percent on all play-action calls and -12.2 percent on passes only.

Negative DVOA for offenses is bad, but that number was considerably better than the Rams' DVOA of -30.1 percent on all offensive plays, the worst mark in the league.

Only four offenses were worse than the Rams on play-action passes. The league average was 7.5 yards per play and a 19.6 percent DVOA. On play-actions with the passes only, the league average was 7.6 yards per play and a 18.2 percent DVOA.

Analysis: Not a huge surprise that the Rams would run the play-action as much as they did with Steven Jackson the center of their offense. Jackson has been the Rams' player defenses most have to concern themselves with, so using a fake handoff to him makes sense, and probably helps make the team a little more successful on offense. The play-action is also a great way to take some heat off a quarterback, something the Rams desperately needed to do last season. If the Rams had better receiving options, the play-action might have been even more successful, but then they might not have needed to run it much either.

And how about the defense? Well, they were not bad.

The defense allowed an average of 7.5 yards per play on all play-actions for a 9.4 percent DVOA. On play-actions with just the passes, those numbers change to 7.8 yards per play and 9.1 percent DVOA. The NFL average was 7.5 yards and a 13.3 percent DVOA for all play-action plays and 7.6 yards per pass with a 12.2 percent DVOA on play-actions with the pass only.

The Rams' defensive DVOA on plays without a play-action was 3.6 percent, considerably better.

Remember, positive DVOA for defensive plays mean that the offense was more successful than the defense.

Analysis: It's a testament to the defense that they were not so easily fooled by the fake handoff, which is helped by having a middle linebacker like James Laurinaitis. Quintin Mikell helps too. On the other hand, it does reveal the team's coverage issues; though, I admit to being surprised that it wasn't worse given the state of the team's cornerbacks last year.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Turf Show Times

You must be a member of Turf Show Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Turf Show Times. You should read them.

Join Turf Show Times

You must be a member of Turf Show Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Turf Show Times. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker