Sunday, September 15, 2013
Rams ponder pushing pace sooner
By Nick Wagoner
ATLANTA -- A game and a half into the 2013 season, the only hurrying being done by the St. Louis Rams' offense was to hurry up and wait for the green light from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to begin pushing the tempo.
After an offseason of building an offense capable of allowing quarterback Sam Bradford to use the up-tempo pace at which he seems most comfortable, the Rams maintained they would be game-plan specific with their offensive approach this season.
Sam Bradford and the Rams had success pushing the tempo in the second half against Atlanta.
Apparently, the game plan didn’t call for Bradford’s foot to push down too hard on the gas pedal in a 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday as the Rams' offense was stuck in neutral or reverse far too often in the game’s first 30 minutes.
Entering the locker room at halftime, the Rams found themselves in a 24-3 hole and searching for answers on how to rev up the offense. A few more failed drives into the third quarter; Schottenheimer and Bradford had a quick discussion about speeding things up.
“I thought it was a great idea, just change it up,” Bradford said. “Obviously we were struggling in what we were trying to do at that point. It put them on their heels a little bit, got us going.”
According to Bradford, the Rams have two up-tempo packages in the playbook, one, which is more of a two-minute drill, and another, which pushes the pace, but not to the extent of the two-minute approach.
Trailing by three touchdowns and with nothing to lose, the Rams opted for the fastest pace. They covered 74 yards in six plays for their first touchdown near the end of the third quarter.
The next drive yielded similar results as the Rams marched 75 yards on eight snaps for another score. They scored again on an 80-yard drive for the final margin.
After going 12-of-21 for 124 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the first half, Bradford went 20-of-34 for 228 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the second.
“I think it made a pretty big difference,” Bradford said. “It seemed to just put them on their heels a little bit. I don’t think they were expecting us to go to it that quickly. We put our guys in space and they did a great job creating separation and then running with the ball after the catch, too. It was positive to see us perform that way in our no huddle.”
The Rams’ success with the no-huddle approach left many wondering why the team didn’t choose to go to it earlier. Part of the reason was awful field position that plagued them for the majority of the first three quarters. It’s hard to go without a huddle when you are backed up near your goal line repeatedly. It also can be difficult to sustain tempo for long periods of time even though the Rams do work on pace in practice.
So could the Rams start turning their change-up into a fastball?
“That is tough to say,” Bradford said. “I think we put a lot of pressure on them and wear them down, but at the same time to play that way for an entire game and those guys up front, that is pretty tough on them to do that. But you never know, and next week maybe it’s something we’ll go to a little sooner if we’re struggling early.”