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The Rams and the deep ball, again

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Michael Hoomanawanui #86 of the St. Louis Rams hauls in a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons at the Edward Jones Dome on November 21 2010 in St. Louis Missouri.  The Falcons beat the Rams 34-17.
Michael Hoomanawanui #86 of the St. Louis Rams hauls in a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons at the Edward Jones Dome on November 21 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Falcons beat the Rams 34-17.

Football Outsiders has their weekly "Quick Reads" posted, a look at the week's best and worst in individual offensive performances. The St. Louis Rams don't have anyone at the top or at the bottom of the list following their week 11 loss to Atlanta, which I've just been informed I'm now legally required to call Hotlanta. 

Anyway, the comment from FO accompanying Sam Bradford's stats offers some insight into the Rams passing game, particularly the dink and dunk versus the long balls.

Bradford completed three of his first four "deep" throws -- passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield -- for 18, 24, and 25 yards. Two of them went to Michael Hoomanawanui...Bradford threw just four "deep" passes on his final 33 dropbacks, including just two during the entire second half. Were the Falcons defending against the deep pass? Perhaps -- all four of those passes fell incmplete. But it sure seems like Bradford might have wanted to press the issue with deep throws a little more frequently.

More thoughts on the deep ball below...

Without going back and watching the game tape (yet), it's hard to speculate as to what the thought process was. On the Rams third quarter scoring drive, they started with excellent field position thanks to a 33-yard punt return and only needed three plays to score a TD. The first play was a 16-yard run from Steven Jackson, the second an 8-yard pass to Danny Amendola, and the TD play was a 13-yard pass to Brandon Gibson, almost a "deep" throw. 

The 18-yard completion to Amendola on 3rd-and-21 at the end of the third quarter was a short throw the Amendola extended with some YAC. It just wasn't enough. Though it's predictable, you wonder why that play of all plays didn't feature a deep strike? 

The Rams offense is a strange case study. On one hand, they don't run like they used to, particularly on those power, up-the-gut type runs with a fullback leading the way. On the other hand, they pass lots, but just not downfield very often. Some of that has to do with the players on hand. But the success of those plays sprinkled into the mix with the current group of receivers do work, proving that they're capable of making more like it.

The league is transforming into a pass-first business. But offenses still have to mix it up.

Read the rest of the FO article. Their comments about Matt Ryan's performance this week will be of particular interest.