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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Updating Rams' search for 'explosive' plays

By Mike Sando

Quarterback Sam Bradford pointed to team speed when asked what the St. Louis Rams' offense offers for 2013.

"We're much faster now," Bradford told reporters in St. Louis on Thursday. "I think we’re all hoping that’s going to lead to more explosive plays."

There is no set way to define an explosive play. However, some in the NFL define them as pass receptions for at least 16 yards and rushes for at least 12 yards. The chart at the bottom of this post shows where the Rams ranked among NFL teams by those measures: 27th in total explosive plays.

"I think if you look at our offense in the past, we’ve really had to grind out touchdown drives because we haven’t been able to create those explosive plays," Bradford said. "You take some of the guys that we have on the field now and they can turn a 5-yard hitch route into an 80-yard touchdown."

The numbers suggest the Rams weren't faring so poorly in terms of total receptions covering at least 16 yards. They suggest the Rams really needed a boost in explosive rushing plays. Young backs Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson should provide fresh legs in the Rams' first season since 2003 without Steven Jackson.

Last season, the Rams ranked tied for fifth in plays at least 50 yards, as the chart above shows. They had eight, three off the NFL lead. Receiver Chris Givens, a rookie in 2012, had five of them for the Rams. He ranked sixth among qualifying wide receivers in yards after catch per reception (6.8) and total yards per reception (16.6). However, no other wide receiver on the team ranked higher than 40th in either category.

The Rams this offseason have added Tavon Austin in the first round of the draft and Jared Cook in free agency, among others.

"It's going to allow us to open up the playbook probably a little bit more," Bradford said. "Just with their speed, we can get creative, figure out how we’re going to use them. But I think the big thing is we’re still trying to figure out how to best use everyone’s abilities that we have now."