How Danny Amendola's Return Makes Rams Offense One of NFL's Most Dangerous
Fortunately, it appears that Amendola may return sooner than expected. In an article by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
As the Rams got off their buses for Wednesday's practice at the Arsenal soccer team facility, out hopped Danny Amendola—in uniform, and toting a helmet.
Those close to Amendola estimated the recovery and rehab time as four to eight weeks. There's no way Amendola plays this Sunday against New England. But with a bye week once the team returns to the U.S., don't be surprised if Amendola is in the lineup Nov. 11 in San Francisco.
After all, the Rams managed just 34 points the past two games, and despite throwing for a combined 570 yards against the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers, Sam Bradford tossed only one touchdown in that span.
St. Louis also lost both games, and currently sits at 3-4 with a Week 8 overseas matchup versus the New England Patriots. To make a postseason push, Amendola is certainly a key part of Jeff Fisher's offense, and there's no doubt he can make a strong impact.
That said, here's a breakdown of what Amendola means for the Rams offense and why they become more dangerous for whenever he gets back on the field.
Takes Passing Game to Better Level
Yes it's obvious, but also quite an important aspect to St. Louis moving the ball and controlling the game tempo. Amendola is a guy who is deceivingly quick and capable of burning a nickel/dime back down the seam against Cover 1, 2 or 3.
Before going down in the game versus the Arizona Cardinals, Amendola was averaging 12.3 yards per reception and 19 of his 32 receptions moved the chains. The guy possesses the needed ability to consistently beat man coverage and his route-running is better than given credit.
Zoning linebackers must always account for him, because any time a blitz is on, Amendola's field awareness and instincts adjust well to accommodate Bradford. This is one area where the receiver protects the quarterback from a sack, because the quick last-second pre-snap audible can result in impressive yards after the catch.
Additionally, Amendola's presence can draw away attention from other receivers such as Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens. Factor in Steve Smith, rookie Brian Quick and tight end Lance Kendricks and Bradford has one sound set of receiving targets.
In turn, all this also helps Steve Jackson and the ground game.
Pressure Off the Rushing Attack
Keeping defenses from stacking the box against Steven Jackson must happen, because the Rams need balance to move the rock consistently. With Amendola present in the slot, wing or out wide opponents can't always bring the additional pressure from the middle.
For one, that forces a safety to roll down in replacement and leaves the coverage vulnerable downfield provided that the backs pickup the blitz. So, St. Louis will get a more traditional front seven look from defenses, and any zone blocking scheme can nullify the complexion of line twists, stunts and linebackers honoring the run by stepping up quicker.
Still, that's much better as opposed to coordinators constantly run-blitzing and/or loading the box with eight players. St. Louis may not be overly dominant at throwing or running; however, a nice mixture and this team will make some noise.
Jackson and rookie Daryl Richardson can work more off tackle, as well as counters and faster dive plays to keep defenses honest. This obviously helps with the set up of play-action and if anything, will force a defense to blitz with outside pressure.
Well, when a team has a pocket passer like Bradford outside pressure is the lesser of two evils. Inside pressure does a quicker and better job of obstructing field vision, whereas outside simply forces Bradford to possess that internal clock of releasing the ball.
How will the Rams' 2012 regular season finish?
Still, it's better to see the field regardless.
Expanding the Playbook
This is arguably the most important area as to why the Rams need Amendola back as soon as possible. His overall skill set creates mismatches to a defense and the total balance offered from St. Louis significantly broadens the play-calling potential.
When we consider the Rams competing in the NFC West, there really is no better way to move the rock. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks each rank inside the top five of the NFL in total yards and points allowed per game.
So, being able to move the ball in general is quite scarce. Also, the Arizona Cardinals have not allowed more than 21 points in a single game this season. Include the Rams' own defense and this division is straight up dominant.
Therefore, offenses have to get a little creative and Amendola's presence allows for jet sweeps, quick tosses and bubble and middle screens to widen a defense. It's more so about getting coverage players to move laterally, because when they get depth, finding targets down the middle and on the outside becomes difficult.
That can then open up to play fakes on jet sweeps which expands the play-calling to something such as misdirection up the gut. All this tied together simply forces an opponent to prepare even more, and fortunately for the Rams, they have the total package to present such an approach.
Amendola may be only one player, but his impact is a competitive advantage.
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