Have the Rams learned to love the play action pass yet?

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

A closer look at how much better the Rams and Sam Bradford are on play action passes.

I had to rub my eyes twice to confirm it, but there it was last Sunday, a play action pass for a touchdown. As a matter of fact, the St. Louis Rams did it twice in the same game, all because the coaches decided it was finally time to run the ball more. They'd be wise to stick to that game plan. Statistics reveal that the Rams and quarterback Sam Bradford are far more effective on play action passes than any other passing attempt.

PA % Att/Comp Comp % TD/INT YPA Rating
Play action 17.9% 40/23 57.5% 3/2 8.4 89.2
Non-PA -- 176/103 58.5% 7/1 5.6 85.0

(Data via Pro Football Focus)

What immediately jumps out at you about those numbers is the yards per attempt. Bradford's averaging almost three whole yards more on play action passes than he is any other. His completion percentage isn't as high, but that's to be expected considering the dink and dunk nature of the Rams offense. So what's happening here?

Play action passes give receivers time to get further down the field. The fake handoff, ideally, takes the defense's attention off the receivers. Bradford then has a chance to set himself and make his throws. When he adds a rollout to his right into the equation, it plays to another strength.

Of course, to run the play action, you have to run the ball credibly. The Rams did that against Jacksonville.

Bradford's play action numbers were even better last season. He averaged 8.5 yards per play action attempt, versus 6.2 on the others. He had a 9/3 touchdown/interception ratio on the play action compared to 12/10 on the others. His QB rating was 101.5 versus 77.5. And the Rams ran a play action on 21.3 percent of the time, more but not dramatically more.

Early returns on the pairing of Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson were positive. Houston's defense presents more of a challenge than Jacksonville's did, but that's not an excuse to abandon the run this week.

The Rams promised to have a more balanced attack last week, and they did. If they can maintain that balance going forward, it should benefit a struggling offense.

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