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Monday, September 20, 2010
Personnel report: Options for Sam Bradford

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Steven Jackson chose his words carefully when asked about the St. Louis Rams' failure to sustain their running game Sunday at Oakland.

"I think if they take one thing away, that you have to find another way to make what was working work again," he said.

The Rams might be better off sticking a little more with their base offense featuring two backs and one tight end.

I say "might" because the information in the chart -- and available in much greater detail via this Excel file -- doesn't account for situations. The fact that quarterback Sam Bradford has fared better statistically from base personnel makes sense because the Rams use this personnel when facing more favorable down and distances. They have never used it this season on third down, for example, and they have almost perfect run-pass balance from this grouping.

That balance is critical when playing with a rookie quarterback. Jackson hit on that point Sunday. The Raiders took away the Rams' running game in the second half. The Rams ran only two plays, both runs, from their base offense after halftime. Jackson gained 2 yards on one carry and lost a yard on the other. Bradford attempted no passes from this grouping in the second half after completing all four from it before halftime.

Losing starting tight end Billy Bajema to a knee injury against Oakland probably made this base grouping less attractive for the Rams. Bajema is a good blocker and underrated receiver. Darcy Johnson, serving as the third tight end while Michael Hoomanawanui recovers from injury, played significant snaps.

Another thought on Bradford: He has looked good in the no-huddle offense. Bradford completed all six attempts with a touchdown without huddling on the first drive of the final exhibition game. He completed all three attempts with another touchdown when the Rams ran the no-huddle offense against Oakland.