Football Outsiders' weekly Quick Reads is absolutely one of the best regular features about the NFL on the web. Easy.
This week, their write up on Sam Bradford offers a little insight into the St. Louis Rams offensive struggles against the Chiefs last week...and at various points throughout the season. Check this out:
Bradford's final five plays: Sack with fumble, sack, fourth-down interception (a 41 yarder on fourth-and-20, which actually produced slightly positive DYAR because it flipped the field position some), 25-yard completion, interception. Danny Amendola had five first downs on 11 targets; his other wide receivers produced three first downs on 18 targets.
I don't think anybody here was too quick to blame Sam Bradford, though he gets some culpability in the whole thing, but that information above speaks to the Rams' hurdles on offense recently, and maybe for the rest of the season.
Taking this in two parts. First, we know the Rams lack talent and consistency at receiver, but there's no excuse for the offensive line. Measured over the course of the season, the OL has done a good job in pass protection. That hasn't been true over the last two weeks. Jason Smith played like a bum against KC, but he's been a solid right tackle this season.
Pass protection isn't just the responsibility of the front five. Tight ends and running backs also play a role, and that's where the Rams have suffered lately too. Kenneth Darby is an important part of the Rams offense for his role as a pass blocker on third downs. Darby missed this week and last. Regardless, the pass blocking played a major role in the Rams offensive impotence these last two weeks.
Inconsistency at wide receiver has dogged the Rams all season. Brandon Gibson was playing much better, but had a poor outing this week. Laurent Robinson has been disappointing all year. I wonder why the Rams keep using him in the passing game, but they don't really have much choice. Danario Alexander saw 30 snaps with the offense, his highest number yet, but he had a difficult time with the Chiefs corners pressing him as he came off the line of scrimmage. Ditto TE Daniel Fells.
Obviously Danny Amendola is the most consistent wide receiver the Rams have, but when teams key on him and the rest of the receivers struggle, it makes for a long day.
About the deep ball. The Rams made deep attempts five times - deep as defined by the NFL of 15 yards or more. Two of those were intercepted, two were caught for 16- and 15-yard gains and an incomplete. Danario Alexander was targeted on two deep shots. The first one was incomplete, as DX was late in his route due to trouble with being pressed at the line. The second shot to DX was an INT, the result of pressure from the Chiefs defense. I stand by my contention that the Rams should take more deep shots. They do work, but do require adequate pass protection and reliable receivers, neither of which the Rams have had much of lately.
Hopefully the return of Michael Hoomanawanui, maybe this week even, gives the Rams another target with reliable hands. They'll need something if they're going to win the last two games of the season.