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Taking a look at the Rams offense and how it can improve

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  The Rams offense has been a big disappointment so far this season. It was hard to imagine a great offense in Josh McDaniels' first year as an offensive coordinator. The lockout really handicapped the offense from the the beginning.

  It's still surprising to see the Rams offense perform like this. It's just been horrible for this offense, anything that can go wrong has gone wrong for the Rams on offense. Rather it's losing their best wide receiver for the season, or the players leading the NFL with drops, nothing seems to be going the Rams way.

  The team has had their bye week to work on their issues which is great, because the Rams will get to test it against the undefeated Green Bay Packers at home. The Packers are 31st in passing yards against them, so it's not a horrible team for the Rams to get their offensive groove back from.

  3k did a piece on the Rams red zone offense yesterday, and Derrick Pease from Ramsherd wrote about it as well.

  With the help of statistics brought to me by Ross Miles from Pro Football Focus, let's discuss how the players have played thus far, and what should happen from here. Follow @PFF_RossMiles if you have any questions about the stats or if you want to follow a big Rams fan.

This offensive line chart will be a great place to start at.

Name

Overall

Pass Block

Run Block

QB Sack

QB Hits

QB Pres

 Jason Brown

-2.7

-0.4

-2.1

2

2

2

 Rodger Saffold

-8.1

-7.9

2.1

7

2

11

 Harvey Dahl

-1.6

-1.2

-1.1

1

1

6

 Jason Smith

-8.5

-4

-2.9

2

1

9

 Jacob Bell

0.2

-0.2

1.5

1

0

5

 Tony Wragge

-2.9

-2.1

-1.1

1

0

2

 Adam Goldberg

-0.1

-0.9

0.4

1

0

2

 

  The Rams' offensive line has to be the biggest disappointment for me this season. The offensive line is supposed to take some time to gel, with a new offensive guard in Harvey Dahl and a new offensive system; it shouldn't happen over night. Not only does the Rams' offensive line rank among the worst in QB sacks, they also allow a lot of pressures.

  However, the offensive line looks like it's really regressed in the passing game, with the Rams young tackles (Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith) as the main culprits, both with -8's in pass blocking (a grade of 0 is average play). In their defense, the the teams they have played thus far have good edge rushers. Still, it does look like Saffold is in a sophomore slump. Jason Smith is struggling again for his second straight season

  The offensive line wouldn't be bad if the Rams young tackles weren't struggling as much.  Also Goldberg and Wragge, aren't bad backups.

Name

Total Snaps

Targets

Rec.

% Ct

Yds

TD

Drop Passes

 Mike Sims-Walker

245

21

11

52.4

139

0

2

 Brandon Gibson

162

18

13

72.2

171

1

3

 Danario Alexander

108

18

8

44.4

196

1

2

 Austin Pettis

72

7

6

85.7

40

0

0

 Greg Salas

43

10

5

50

48

0

3

 Danny Amendola

40

6

5

83.3

45

0

0

 

  Next up, we have another disappointing group. Going into the season, honestly I thought the Rams had a good enough receiver corps to compete. No one could have predicted Amendola getting injured against the Eagles. That could have been the turning point of the season. He is the checkdown guy that the Rams are missing.

  Right now, it looks like Mike Sims-Walker is the Rams number one receiver. Also, Austin Pettis and Danario Alexander have started getting more snaps recently. In fact, I read that Brandon Gibson was 4th in snaps last game.

  This group of WR's would be better if they could hold onto the ball. Austin Pettis is the only Rams wide receiver not to drop a pass this season. Besides not helping Bradford by catching his passes, they also haven't consistently gotten open.

  The Rams need an option underneath to help Sam Bradford out. Right now, it appears that Austin Pettis will be getting more chances in the slot. It should also be interesting to see if the Rams bring back Greg Salas. Salas did have some bad drops and fumbles, but he's still a good talent. If he's not returning punts, he could be an good asset.

  Mike Sims-Walker and DX have flashed their big play ability, but obviously the game against the Giants padded their stats greatly. Brandon Gibson also hasn't made that big jump that was expected of him this week. Mark Clayton should help this crew, if he's back to his 2010 form before his injury.

 

Name

Total snaps

Targets

Rec.

% Ct

Yds

TD

Drop Passes

 Lance Kendricks

189

18

8

44.4

102

0

5

 Billy Bajema

130

6

4

66.7

32

0

1

 Michael Hoomanawanui

118

6

2

33.3

18

0

1

 

  The Rams' tight ends really haven't shown up like you would want them to. Without Danny Amendola and a playmaking receiver on the outside, a good tight end would really help his quarterback.

  That is what makes Lance Kendricks such a huge disappointment. Lance was supposed to be a positive factor going into the season. He had a good training camp and preseason, but this showed why you shouldn't anoint players before the regular season. Lance Kendricks can still pull it around though. The high number of targets he's been getting means he's been getting open -- the next step is to actually catch the ball, because 5 drops isn't going to cut it.

  Then you have Bajema and Big Mike. These two players, haven't shown up yet either. Bajema is more of a blocking TE, than a receiving threat. Big Mike on the other hand, is a blocking TE, that can find holes in the defense; however, his big problems have been injuries this season.

Sam Bradford

  It's hard to say how much blame should be placed on young Bradford. His team is one of the leaders in sacks allowed, and when he throws catchable passes, it's surprising if it's caught. Sam Bradford needs help on the field point blank.

  Even so, he still hasn't played up to par with what we expect from him. Bradford has missed on touchdown throws, and he's also stared down his receivers at times. He's a second year quarterback going into his second offense, so it shouldn't be expected that he hasn't played great with all the things going against him.

  It will be interesting to see if the Rams will get the confident Bradford going into Green Bay, or if they will get the Bradford with bad body language from the Redskins game.

Running Backs

  Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams look like they could be a good duo this season. However, they both still haven't played when the other running back was healthy. It's sad really, because having both these backs healthy could really help the Rams out.

  This week should be the first time that these two backs can contribute in the same game. But what happened to Jervious Norwood? He was supposed to be the speed back.. He was injured last season, so he might not be 100% yet.

Suggestions on what the Rams should do from here

  Honestly, I'm not a coach, just a guy going to college to become one. So I could be wrong in my opinion by this team, but I think my solutions are reasonable and would really help the team.

1. The offensive line has to get their act together. They are getting paid too much money to not perform well. The main culprits have been the two tackles. If they can't do it by themselves, there should be a TE there to help them.

2. Run the ball with our healthy running backs. Of course, it's hard to run the ball when down three touchdowns, but if Jackson and Williams are healthy let them run the ball.

3. The Rams need a reliable tight end. Kendricks is a good target, but if he keeps dropping the ball, why feed it to him right now? The Rams don't have reliable enough targets to bench Kendricks, but there is a lot of pressure on the man to perform. If  the Rams can get Kendricks to catch the ball, they will be better on offense, but if he keeps dropping the ball, it might be better to play Bajema more for the time being.

4. Find a combination of wide receivers that work. Bringing Mark Clayton on board should help the Rams if he is closer to his 2010 form, but who will play with him most of the time? It should be interesting to see how the wide receiver situation will start to shape up. If it were me, I would have Gibson and Clayton as the primary outside guys, with Sims-Walker playing the slot. Throw in the other WR's whenever. However none of this will matter if they can't catch the ball.

5. Better play calling. The play calling for the most part, has been good. However when the QB is getting killed in the pocket and the receivers aren't getting open deep consistently, adjustments need to be made. Shorter routes, running the ball more, and more no huddle should help this offense.

  If all of the above would happen, it would make the Rams offense and Sam Bradford play better. When you think about it, almost all the Rams' problems could have been fixed during the bye week. The Rams running backs have gotten healthier, the team might not drop the ball much coming off the bye week, and maybe the Rams will run shorter routes and stick with more no huddle.

Here's Ross Miles take on the Rams offense.

For me the main problem with the Rams offense is that we haven't really managed to consistently find a rhythm and momentum. We keep finding ourselves in pressure situations on third down and then proceed to commit unwarranted penalties and drops. This then seems to spiral during a game and the pressure builds and more mistakes creep into our game. Some of the most productive play has been when we are running a hurry-up offense, and whilst I don't expect McDaniels to wheel out the next incarnation of the K-Gun, we do need to see the Rams start moving the chains on a more consistent basis. The losses of Amendola and Clayton, our most reliable pass catchers, cannot be used as an excuse as rookies Greg Salas (285) and Austin Pettis (229) combined for over 500 receptions in their college careers, so should be capable of at least holding on to Bradford's passes. Correcting some fundamental errors (drops and penalties) and sustaining drives throughout a game will result in a rise in confidence and I believe we do have the talent to build on that and still challenge within the NFC West.