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St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford - Going Long

The St. Louis Rams' quarterback, Sam Bradford, has shown his deep ball brilliance this year. Rams fans had heard of his deep ball capabilities coming out of the draft, but hadn't seen the fruits of those skills until this year.

Dilip Vishwanat


Sam Bradford has a 100.8 QB rating and averages 8.8 yards per attempt when using play action; Bradford has a 79.6 QB rating and averages only 6.5 yards per attempt when not.

Brian Schottenheimer went so far as to say, "I have never been around a guy that throws the deep ball better than Sam."

The St. Louis Rams have seen the payoff from Sam's deep ball abilities more this year than any year prior. Sam Bradford has 7 passes over 40 yards this season, equaling his total from his two prior seasons combined. A number of factors have contributed to the increase in downfield production.

  1. Chris Givens - Chris Givens has been a revelation. Sam Bradford has never had a player who could take the top off of a defense. Chris Givens is just that. Think Mike Wallace 2.0.
  2. The Offensive Line - The offensive line has had its bad moments, but has managed to outperformed expectations, however low those expectations may have been.
  3. Brian Schottenheimer - Schotty has been spotty. The offensive game planning has been game specific and the Rams don't take shots downfield when they are not there, yet they keep the defense honest.
Let's take a look at each completion over 40 yards Bradford has had this season.


Completion #1 - Bradford's first completion over 40 yards came in week 2 against the Washington Redskins. The Rams came out with 3 WR's, 1 RB, and 1 TE. Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson were lined up on the left side of the formation, with the Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks on the right. Daryl Richardson is lined up in the backfield. The completion occurred with 6:19 left in the 2nd quarter.
Completion #2 - The completion against the Seattle Seahawks in week 4 occurred with 2 TE's, 2WR's, and 1 RB on the field. On the field for the Rams, Lance Kendricks and Matthew Mulligan at TE, Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens at WR, and Steven Jackson at RB. Givens is split wide right, Gibson wide left, with Kendricks on the left and Mulligan on the right. The completion came with 32 seconds left in the 1st quarter.
Completion #3 - Sam's third completion over 40 yards of the season came against the Arizona Cardinals in week 5 on the second play of the game.. Once again, the Rams came out with 2TE's, Lance Kendricks and Matthew Mulligan, 2 WR's, Brian Quick and Danny Amendola, and 1 RB, Steven Jackson. Brian Quick is split right, Amendola Left, with Mulligan and Kendricks on either side of the line.
Completion #4 - Sam followed up his 3rd completion over 40 yards with another one in the very same game. This time the Rams come out with spread personel. Chris Givens is split wide left, paired with Pettis in the slot. Gibson is flanked wide right. Lance Kendricks and Steven Jackson are both lined up in the backfield; Lance on the left and Steven on the right. The completion came with 11:58 left in the 4th quarter.
Completion #5 - The Miami Dolphins fell victim to Sam's 5th completion of over 40 yards. The Rams came out with heavy personel. Givens is on the left side, close to the tackle. Lance Kendricks and Matthew Mulligan are lined up on the right side of the line. Brit Miller and Steven Jackson are both in the backfield. 6:52 was left in the 1st quarter when this play occurred.
Completion #6 - Once again, we see the Rams in spread personel, this time it's against the Green Bay Packers. Givens and Gibson are on the top of the screen with Kendricks and Steve Smith on the bottom. Steven Jackson is in the backfield. The play occurred with 11:50 left in the 4th quarter.
Completion #7 - Against the New England Patriots in week 8, the Rams came out in I-Form with Steven and Brit in the backfield. Split out wide for the Rams is Chris Givens on the right, and Brandon Gibson on the left. Matthew Mulligan is in at tight end on the right side. This play happened early in the 1st quarter.

Motion and Routes:

Yellow = Motion
Red = Targeted WR
Blue = Non-targeted WR

Completion #1 - Danny motions in before the snap to just inside the numbers. Sam fakes the handoff to Richardson to get the defense to freeze. Danny attacks the corner's inside shoulder to about the 30 before snapping his route inside. Givens clears his man out with a 9 route and Gibson keeps the strong safety and mike backer honest by progressing is way from the middle of the field to the deep right.
Completion #2 - Kendricks motions to the left side of the formation before the snap. Givens gets a clean release off the line of scrimmage and attacks the inside shoulder of Richard Sherman. He then stacks back on top of Sherman and begins to drift towards the sideline in order to distance himself from the safety, Earl Thomas. Givens ran this route like a veteran.
Completion #3 - There is no motion on this play, but Bradford does use play action to help freeze the defense. Danny takes an outside release on Patrick Peterson, and is guarded tightly. After the PA, Jackson leaks out of the backfield to the left. Brian Quick runs a 10 yard dig. Both tight ends are left in to help with protection.
Completion #4 - Kendricks begins the play by motioning in and then back out. Chris Givens is given 7 yards of cushion but chews it up almost instantly. He chops his feet and gives a hesitation at the 40 and then bends his route outside and turns on the jets. Gibson mirrors Givens on the opposite side of the field. Kendricks blocks for 2 counts and then releases to the outside as an outlet.
Completion #5 - Against the Dolphins, the Rams came out in heavy personel. Givens challenges the middle of the field vertically and then breaks it towards the sideline. Lance Kendricks runs a 15 yard curl route. Steven Jackson and Brit Miller each release out of the backfield after the play action and break in opposite directions.
Completion #6 - While the ball didn't travel very far in the air on this play, it still ended up over 40 yards downfield. Givens runs a quick slip screen and uses his speed to make a play. The design and execution of this play is flawless.
Completion #7 - Chris Givens motions across the formation at the beginning. Sam fakes the handoff to Steven and then rolls out to the right. Givens puts a double move on the corner and safety and uses his speed to get on top of them.
Completion #1 - Flawless.
Completion #2 - Once again, flawless.
Completion #3 - Disaster. I'm still amazed Sam was able to get the pass off.
Completion #4 - Great protection, but big Calais Campbell came close to getting his mits on this one.
Completion #5 - It looks as if Bradford is going to take a sack, but his pocket awareness saved him as he took two giant steps up into the pocket and then delivered a gem.

Completion #6 - This was the screen to Givens against the Green Bay Packers.

Completion #7 - Great protection on the boot play against the Patriots.


Completion #1 - After the 56 yard completion to Danny with 6:19 left in the quarter, the Rams were able to capitalize on the big play 5 plays later with a 1 yard Danny Amendola touchdown reception. The Rams won the game.

Completion #2 - Sam hit Chris Givens for 52 yards at the end of the first quarter against the Seahawks in week 4. Unfortunately, two plays later Sam threw an interception to Richard Sherman. The Rams won the game.

Completion #3 - The 44 yard completion to Danny Amendola against the Arizona Cardinals resulted in a Rams touchdown 3 plays later. Lance Kendricks caught a 7 yard touchdown to cap off the drive. The Rams won the game.

Completion #4 - The second 40+ yard completion against the Arizona Cardinals was for a touchdown to Chris Givens. The Rams won the game.

Completion #5 - After Chris Givens' 65 yard reception against the Miami Dolphins, the Rams could only muster a 32 yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein. The Rams lost the game.

Completion #6 - Chris Givens took a screen for 56 yards against the Green Bay Packers. The result was a touchdown by Steven Jackson 6 plays later. The Rams lost the game.

Completion #7 - The bomb to Chris Givens against the New England Patriots resulted in a touchdown. The Rams lost the game.

Interesting Tidbits:

  1. 5 of the 7 plays resulted in a Rams touchdown. 1 Resulted in a FG, and 1 resulted in no points.
  2. Play-action was used on 5 of the 7 plays.
  3. Motion was used on 5 of the 7 plays.
  4. The protection/blocking was perfect on 5 of the 7.
  5. 4 of the 7 plays had 2 WR's or less.
  6. An extra blocker was left in on 5 of the 7 plays.
  7. Completions were made in every quarter except for the 3rd. 1st = 4, 2nd = 1, 3rd = 0, 4th = 2.

The Rams are a different team this season; they have different coaches, different players, and a different quarterback. Sam Bradford is a different player this year. He finally has coaches who can scheme around his talents. Sam has shown that he can be a franchise quarterback when given the right circumstances: good pass protection and separation from his wideouts. I am firmly planted on #TeamBradford. Hopefully Sam can add a few more of these plays against the Minnesota Vikings! I hope you enjoyed the read. Give me a follow on twitter @HawkWayOfLife for more Ram ramblings.