We all have talked so much about how our offense needs a running game, or its all Schotty's fault, or its all Sam's fault, but one thing no one has said is how Sam had his security blanket taken away. Danny Amendola for better or worse was a huge part of this offense and his loss has been rather evident. Danny Amendola was much more then Sam's favorite wr, he was his security blanket and lord only knows what happens when we first lost our security blanket. We had some good days, we had some bad days, but it took us a while to find the confidence to stand alone and face this big bad world without it.
I found a preseason podcast on Bill Simmons Grantland about the Rams and how they would be a cellar dweller this season and I had to see what they had to say and Bill Barnwell brought up the loss of Danny Amendola as the main reason and by jove he is right.
"The difference between Sam Bradford throwing to Danny Amendola and Sam Bradford throwing to anybody else has been very stark during Bradford's brief NFL career. He gets about as much on each throw regardless — 6.1 yards per attempt to Amendola, 6.3 yards per attempt to all the others. Where he's differed has been in completion percentage. Bradford has completed 66.5 percent of his passes to Amendola, which has helped make his numbers look better and left him with a safety valve during those times when Amendola and Bradford were both healthy. When throwing to other receivers, Bradford has completed just 56.8 percent of his passes. In other words, he turns from an efficient-if-conservative checkdown artist with Amendola into the 2012 version of Blaine Gabbert without him.
At this point, Bradford is basically a ruthless checkdown artist; the Rams are the ones paying millions of dollars to put something they don't really understand or have any use for up on their wall right now, and since they've already done it once, they keep doing it. Bradford routinely doesn't see open receivers downfield or doesn't see them until the window is already closing. Just 6.8 percent of his passes since joining the league have gone for 20 yards or more, which is the lowest rate in the league for passers with 1,000 attempts or more over that time frame. The average rate for those quarterbacks is 9.3 percent, which tells you just how little of an impact Bradford has had. You can be a good quarterback in this league by checking down a lot — Matt Ryan is at only 7.6 percent, and Peyton Manning is barely ahead of him at 8.4 percent — but you need to complete 65 percent of your passes in doing so to repeatedly move the chains. Bradford is at 58 percent. If you want to succeed while completing 58 percent of your passes, you have to be like Cam Newton, who leads the league in this stat by turning 12.2 percent of his pass attempts into 20-plus-yard gains. If you're not completing a lot of passes and those passes aren't going very far, you're not pushing your team in the right direction.
The Rams can make a case that Bradford has his best supporting cast ever. He has Jake Long in at left tackle and should hopefully get a full year out of Scott Wells at center. Amendola left for New England, but there are a variety of options available to replace him, including big-money free agents (Jared Cook) and top-10 draft picks (Tavon Austin) and their college buddies (Stedman Bailey). Of course, they've given Bradford a variety of wideouts and some expected line improvements in the past, and they haven't been of much use."
from Bill Barnwell of Grantland
One Glaring thing I have noticed about Sam is that he is unable to quickly make 3 or 4 reads in the passing game. The reality is that even when he is given the time to make those progressions, his internal clock is telling him he needs to get rid of the ball. In the past 3 years he has counted on his second read being Danny. He could always count on Danny being so shifty and quick that he would be open and Danny has solid hands. He had all the faith in the world in Danny and Danny was taken away. Sam needs time to develop this rapport with someone. He also needs to be broken of his habit of short passes, he has the arm to make every throw, he just does not have the heart to make them.
I am also going to advocate the need for us to bring in a coach who will break him of his habit of making short passes. The last thing we need is a coaching staff that encourages Sam to play conservative, we need a Coaching staff around Sam that is going to uplift his confidence and play the game to his full abilities, and to compliment the talent around him.
This is not going to happen anytime as soon as any of us wants, and my heart prays that it happens before Sam has become corrupted by the way he has been handled by the Rams in his career. The one truth we can take to the bank is that Sam needs continuity, he needs continuity with his teachers, his Oline, his wrs and he needs the confidence that comes from that.