May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brian Quick (83) catches a ball during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
I get asked about Brian Scottenheimer's offense a great deal. People wonder what it's going to look like, but the answer is that we just don't know. We do have a few clues, which are more apt to frustrate the concrete sequential answer seeker.
Schotty has roots in the Air Coryell system, the same offensive approach that the St. Louis Rams ran during the GSOT days. His offense with the New York Jets clearly did not resemble that with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. That the tight end was the top receiver in that Jets offense would have been anathema to Mike Martz.
Then you have reports out of this spring's minicamp and OTAs comparing the new offensive approach with the old one, the really old one use by Pat Shurmur oh so long ago. Here's what Sam Bradford said about it:
"It's definitely not the same, but this offense does have some West Coast roots, so I think at the base level, some of the things that this offense does, they are similar to what we did two years ago with Pat's offense," Bradford said.
Don't forget, this team is coached by Jeff Fisher, a head coach who was gradually eased into the passing game by his long-time offensive coordinator the late Mike Heimerdinger. The Rams will be basing much of their offense out of the run, with plenty of play-action passes.
Don't let the West Coast comparison get you down. It doesn't necessarily signal a return to the days of glorified hand-offs to a receiver in the flat and three-yard gains. Pro Football Focus did a study of deep passing trends over the last three years, and there's an interesting stat in there for Rams fans still confused about what kind of offense they'll see on the field this year.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was tied for the 10th most deep touchdown passes, those with targets at least 20 yards down the field, with 17 touchdowns. It means he knows when to take a shot, and with Bradford being a more accurate and better all-around deep passer than Sanchez, I'd venture a guess that we'll see more of those this season.
Given the questions this team still has among the offensive linemen and wide receivers, the Rams can ill afford to risk Bradford's future by throwing him into a pass-heavy, downfield offense. Remember, Fisher and Schottenheimer are essentially building this offense from the ground up, starting over with Bradford after a disastrous sophomore season. It's not time to take more risks than necessary.
A balanced approach, as viewed from this vantage point, seems like the right one for an offense learning to walk all over again.