Redskins vs. Rams: Breaking Down How Sam Bradford Carved Up the Redskins

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

After losing a heart breaker in Week 1 to the Detroit Lions, the Rams were bound for redemption. 

Offensively, St. Louis played poorly against Detroit. Its execution was off, and the offensive line failed to protect the quarterback in critical situations. 

However, this team proved that it isn't the same old sorry Rams by rebounding and taking down the electric RGIII. Even after starting in a deep 14-3 hole, St. Louis dug itself out of it and rode quarterback Sam Bradford to victory.

It was easily the most complete game I've ever seen Bradford play. He completed 26-of-35 passes, threw for over 300 yards for the fourth time in his career and tied a career high with three touchdown passes. 

His offense was an impressive 7-of-12 on third down, and they averaged over seven yards per play. Incredible numbers considering their offense in the opener was an absolute stinker. 

Based on all those stats, I decided to break down Bradford's top throws from Sunday. Obviously, he had a lot of good throws, but these three showed him at his absolute best.


Pass No. 1: First Quarter, 13:14 Left to Play

The Rams line up in an 11-personnel look, three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end. It isn't a traditional 11-personnel set, as tight end Lance Kendricks is flanked out into the slot next to Danny Amendola.

Washington is in a classic Jim Haslett defensive look single-high safety with only Madieu Williams back deep. An eight man box is nothing new to the Rams offense; it's a look they see almost every week in efforts to shut down Steven Jackson.

Amendola is Bradford's primary target on the play, just as he was all day. Off the line, he fakes his route to the outside getting DeAngelo Hall to bite and then kicks it inside for a perfectly executed angle route. Kendricks ran a drag route underneath that drew coverage to the middle of the field. And as soon as No. 8 saw the coverage leaning inside, he leads Amendola up the seam with a perfectly thrown strike.

The ball placement was critical, as he knew it was going to be a tight fight, so he threw it high and away knowing No. 24 for the Redskins wouldn't have time to jump up and knock the ball away.

Another thing that aided the completion was the fact Hall got caught peaking in the backfield. I think he was assuming his help would have been their sooner. 

Amendola is going to beat man-to-man coverage all day because of  his exceptional route running. The only thing that has been holding back this offense the past couple years are injuries and protection issues up front. 


Pass No. 2: First Quarter, 10:29 Left to Play

Even though this play was ruled incomplete, I felt it was necessary to break it down, as Bradford made another incredible throw in the corner of the end zone. 

The Rams offense is in a 12-personnel grouping that is right-side heavy with tight ends. Gibson is split out at left wide receiver with Steve Smith in the slot on the left. Smith is going to run a short curl route that will draw coverage from both a linebacker and cornerback. Which, in turn, leaves Gibson one-on-one against Kyle Wilson.

Haslett's defense is in cover 1 with the safety playing in the middle of the field. The disadvantage of this look on the play is the fact that you have to count on your cornerbacks to win their one-on-one matchups. And when you're only rushing four against the six Rams' blockers, No. 8 is going to have all day to deliver.

With the amount of time given to throw in the pocket, Bradford throws an absolute laser strike. The ball placement is pinpoint, and by the screen shot above, it looks like it should have been ruled a touchdown. The referees ruled the receiver didn't get both feet down in bounds, but you can clearly see Gibson did a nice job of toeing the line. 

If you're Jeff Fisher, how do you not challenge that call? 


Pass No. 3: Third Quarter, 10:29 Left to Play

St. Louis' offense personnel grouping on this play is 12. Amendola is split out wide left, Brandon Gibson is split out wide on the right and both tight ends are on the left side of the formation. Matthew Mulligan is on the line of scrimmage and Kendricks is in the slot.

The Redskins defense is in a similar look in accordance to the first play I broke down. Man-to-man coverage is the primary with one safety back to defend the middle of the field. You will notice that Gibson is drawing double coverage on the right sideline. 

Protection is solid, as the Rams are holding in seven to block. Bradford's initial read is Gibson despite the double coverage, but with only three routes being ran, his options are limited. Give credit to both Gibson and Schottenheimer on this play; it calls for a sluggo seam route to split the double team. And it works to perfection, as the little hesitation froze both Cedric Griffin and Dejon Gomes. 

Bradford lays the ball out right in front of No. 11, so he can catch it in stride. You really can't draw it up better than that. Without a doubt Coach Fisher had a well-thought out game plan for Haslett's single-high safety looks. 

Based on three dynamic throws, Washington failed to make adjustments time after time. You would think that getting out of the cover 1 look would be a priority as you were consistently burned. But Haslett allowed his team to play through the bumps of man coverage.

When Fox announcer Tim Ryan said Coach Fisher would be ready for every one of the Redskins' defensive looks, he wasn't kidding. Protection held up well and receivers were open despite holding extra blockers in. 

If St. Louis is this prepared for the Bears this week, the Rams offense might top the 400-yard mark for the second straight week. 


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