Jeff Fisher has kept the St. Louis Rams' new-look offense under wraps the entire preseason. We've seen brief glimpses of the explosiveness - and potential - of Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens in practices and preseason games. The possibilities have only been hinted at for the new Rams offensive weapons on hand. The wraps are about to come off in the Rams home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams offense underwent a dramatic transformation during the off season. Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, and Brandon Gibson all departed via free agency. TE Jared Cook was signed as a free agent. The offensive line was bolstered with the signing of OT Jake Long. The Rams traded up in the 1st round of the draft to select WR Tavon Austin, and added his teammate - WR Stedman Bailey - in the 3rd round. RB Zac Stacy was selected in the 5th round, and RB Benny Cunningham looks like a great UDFA find. In addition, the Rams now have some continuity - the same playbook and offensive coordinator - for consecutive seasons. The dramatic transformation has created excitement, as well as expectations.
Sam Bradford throwing 35 TD passes, or throwing for 4500 yards are in the dream-scapes of more than a few Rams fans. How about a 1000+ yard wide receiver? Is it possible Tavon Austin will be breaking Rams rookie records for receptions and yards? These are some of the expectations being bandied around - a result of all the positive change to the offense in the off season. Are these expectations realistic? For all of the infusion of talent in the off season, the Rams did lose some pretty significant contributors in Jackson, Amendola, and Gibson. They've been replaced by much younger, explosive players - although it will take time for them to learn the offensive system, the NFL game, and their positions.
The Rams' 5-man receiving corps has a total of 4 years NFL experience, and 1371 career receiving yards. These factors alone should temper expectations to a degree. The running game? The running backs have a total of 2 years NFL experience, 529 career rushing yards, and ZERO touchdowns at the NFL level. It will take time for them to develop and fully complement the offense as a whole. Sam Bradford? He's expected to continue his development, and improve on his 2012 performance. A second consecutive year in Brian Schottenheimer's system, an improved offensive line, and the addition of explosive play-makers, all bode well for Sam Bradford - and the Rams offense. What are realistic expectations for Sam Bradford - and the receiving corps - for the 2013 season?
The accompanying charts present 2013 projections for Sam Bradford and the receivers:
2013 Projected Receiving Production
Player Position Rec Yds YPC TD's Tavon Austin WR 44 465 10.6 4 Chris Givens WR 53 859 16.2 5 Brian Quick WR 34 422 12.4 4 Stedman Bailey WR 29 351 12.1 2 Austin Pettis WR 21 202 9.6 2 Jared Cook TE 72 950 13.2 7 Lance Kendricks TE 35 445 12.7 3 Daryl Richardson RB 24 233 9.7 1 Other RB/WR RB/WR 15 108 7.2 1 Totals 327 4035 12.3 29
Sam Bradford 2013 Projected Passing Production
Year 2012 2013 Completions 328 327 Attempts 551 532 Passing Yards 3702 4035 Comp. % 59.5 61.5 Yards Per Attempt 6.7 7.6 TD's 21 29 INT's 13 12 QBR 82.6 90.7
- The Rams do not have a 1000-yard receiver in these projections. Expect the Rams to utilize many receiving options, in many different formations. The versatility of the Rams passing attack will be on display throughout the season.
- The offense will have more big plays this season - the result of adding speedy, explosive players to the mix. This is reflected in two areas: the Rams average yards-per-catch of 12.3 - and Sam Bradford's leap from 6.7 to 7.6 in yards-per-attempt.
- Bradford increases his touchdown passes to 29 [from 21 last season]. The offense, and personnel, will be more efficient in the red zone than in 2012.
- The modest production figures projected for Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, reflect the learning curve all rookie receivers must go through. Expect Austin to be a huge asset to the punt return game.
- Jared Cook is projected to be Sam Bradford's go-to receiver, and will lead the team in yards and receptions.
- Sam Bradford will have fewer attempts than in 2012, yet more passing yards. This due to an increase in overall efficiency of the offense - more big plays - and a modest increase in accuracy.
- Brian Quick will become a more productive member of the receiving corps this season, as he continues to develop and learn the position.
- Chris Givens will again be a dangerous threat - and contribute many big plays. His statistics will be approximately the same as last season, if only because of the many options now in the offense.
- Lance Kendricks will be the primary blocking tight end and H-back. He should still be a receiving target in multiple tight end sets; replicating his production of last season.
- These projections are realistic, and attainable. The Rams offense may outperform the projections, if the offense can gel early in the season.
- Daryl Richardson projects to be the main receiving threat coming out of the backfield.
How will the increased production of Sam Bradford and the receivers translate to points on the field? In 2012, the Rams ranked 25th in points scored , an average of 18.7 points-per-game. The 2013 projections point to the Rams scoring 355 points - an average of 22.2 points-per-game. Based on these projections, the Rams will rank 17th offensively in points scored.