Diverse Passing Attack Presenting Challenges for Opposing Defenses

Posted Sep 18, 2013

After an offseason highlighted by additions to the Rams’ receiving corps, expectations for the team’s passing game received a sharp uptick. With the league’s fourth-highest passing yard total through Week 2, those early optimistic thoughts have been validated.

The aerial output has been more a reflection of an unselfish approach than singular outstanding performances, and was on display against Atlanta in Week 2 with receptions by 10 different players.

With no discernible go-to receiver, Rams wideouts have had the benefit of playing off of each other and avoiding additional attention from opposing defenses.

After tight end Jared Cook opened his Rams career with a seven-catch, 141-yard showing in the team’s Week 1 win over Arizona, it was second-year receiver Chris Givens’ turn to eclipse the 100-yard plateau with 105 yards on five receptions against the Falcons.

“It’s a big deal, because it just shows the type of weapons that this offense has,” Cook said. “Week to week, different teams are going to play different defensive schemes, and it just gives others opportunities to get open and be a bigger part of the offense. It’s huge.”

The performances of Cook and Givens have only highlighted the balance that has become an increasingly evident aspect of the team’s offense.

After establishing himself as a big-play threat in 2012, Givens may be in the midst of a breakout 2013 campaign. His five catches and 105 yards on Sunday equaled his second-highest single-game totals in 18 career games.

Running back Daryl Richardson has also contributed to the cause. Richardson has been featured prominently in the Rams’ passing game, with five receptions in each of the team’s first two games. That pace is well beyond the second-year tailback’s 2012 season, when he grabbed 24 passes in 16 games.

Add rookie wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the mix, and quarterback Sam Bradford has no shortage of options in the team’s aerial attack.

The Rams’ abundance of offensive weapons has not been lost on Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett, who will be tasked with slowing the Bradford and company this week.

“They just attack you in a lot of different ways,” Garrett said during Wednesday’s conference call. “First and foremost, our cover guys – our corners, our safeties, and our backers — just have to do a good job with their individual assignments when they’re either playing zone or man-to-man trying to keep these guys under wraps. Then you make decisions about who you want to give extra attention to whether you’re double-teaming them or whatever you’re trying to get accomplished. So, when you have a number of different guys that you have to contend with, it makes it a lot more challenging.”

The diverse receiving corps has allowed quarterback Bradford to begin 2013 with his highest passing yardage total through the first two weeks (651) in his four-year career. Despite that auspicious start, Bradford believes the early-season showing has yet to reach its full potential.

“I think that’s the beauty of this offense and the guys that are in this system,” Bradford said. If a defense focuses on one guy, one receiver in this offense, it’s going to make it tough to cover everyone else. You can only double so many guys until everyone else is singled. When they do that, I think we have a lot of favorable matchups, and it gives guys the opportunity to step up.”