Check Down Artist


It's no secret that Sam Bradford has long been criticized for his apparent obsession with the check down. He boasts a career average of 6.3 yds an attempt.

As a rookie Sam Bradford entered the league in a Pat Shurmur offense that threw the ball 590 times, and came away with an average of a whopping six yards per attempt. He had Danny Amendola as a top target, with Brandon Gibson sprinkled in, a dash of Michael Hoomanawanui, a little Mark Clayton, and some late to the show Danario Alexander.

Not exactly an All-Star receiver core, though Alexander -when healthy- has proven to be as good as anyone. Amendola has never been known as the greatest YAC receiver and Brandon Gibson runs forward like he is back pedaling. But the saddest part of this is his YPA is more reflective of his offensive scheme, than his weapons.

Pat Shurmur has never really had a reputation of having an explosive offense. Until this season in Philly, he has always run a "dink and dunk" west coast offense. Lots of play action and roll outs only to throw to players within seven yds of the line of scrimmage.

Even more discouraging, is that it did not end with Shurmur. Josh McDaniels attempted to bring a more spread vertical offense to St. Louis, and it actually fit Bradford's strengths better. Problem is we had the worst offensive line in the world that year, forcing more check downs from lack of time to throw.

Then comes Brian Schottenheimer. He also has a track record for QB's having low YPA averages. When coming to St. Louis, he left Mark Sanchez in New York with a career average of 6.5 YPA.

There is reason to believe that it is not Sam Bradford that is the check down king, but instead his coaches. In this case Brian Schottenheimer. If not for so many of Schotty's QBs having the same tendencies, it would be easier to believe that it was indeed just Bradford not taking shots. But the former leads one to believe that the QBs are being told/taught/coached to look short before long. In actuality in almost any other offense it has been deep to short.

Before Tavon Austin's two ridiculously long TD receptions against the Colts, Kellen Clemons averaged a terrifying 5.3 YPA. In fact much like Bradford the only time he has been caught looking down field, is when the play call has a deep route that is the first read.

Chad Pennington had an average of 6.8 YPA under Schottenheimer over two seasons, the lowest of his career when starting at least half of the season. Even Brett Favre was unable to crack seven YPA under Schotty, instead averaging 6.7. This is all of the QBs to play for Schotty. Two very good, one HOF, a backup, and a top ten bust, you have a variety that covers all grounds and yet no one could ever get over 6.8 YPA, and as a group averaged 6.5.

I don't believe any of the Rams QBs are to be blame for low YPA averages. I look to the offensive philosophy and the use of shorter passes as an "extension to the run game".

I will leave you with this video which further suggests that Schotty's plays are designed to read short to deep....

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