Rams' offense packed with potential

Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer knows he is in a unique situation. His starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, is 25, and entering his fourth NFL season.
Of the Rams' top five wide receivers, Austin Pettis is the "dean" of the group at 25 and entering his third season. Rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey join second-year players Chris Givens and Brian Quick.
Tight end Jared Cook has played four seasons and Lance Kendricks two. At running back, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Terrance Ganaway are all in the second year, while Zac Stacy is a rookie.
Scary young? Not according to Schottenheimer.
While acknowledging he's probably never been around a group so green, he said, "It's kind of exciting. If they weren't working so hard, if they were struggling a little bit mentally -- which I'm sure they'll have their days -- I'd probably be a little bit nervous, but they're doing really well.
"Coach (Jeff Fisher) helps us by setting up the structure where we can get a chance to visit with these guys and do the installs a couple different times, which certainly helps them. A young group, but a very fast, explosive group, so there's a tradeoff there," Schottenheimer said.
"I understand why Sam has a smile on his face for a lot of reasons, obviously the weapons and obviously not having to learn a new system. It's been a really great offseason. Guys are working hard. It's been fun to watch them work."
Said Bradford, "It's definitely come a long way since we first started with those rookies. I've been really impressed by some of the young guys that we've had -- Tavon, Stedman -- thought they've done a great job. We're asking them to play a lot of different positions right now. Of course there's still mistakes, but for the most part they've been extremely sharp. The chemistry, I think, is really coming along. Obviously the more reps we've gotten together on the field in practice, things have really started to click."
While Bradford doesn't buy into the notion that the Rams will be "pass-happy," he did say, "It's definitely going to be a different offense. I think if you look at the speed we have now compared to the speed we've had in past years, we have significantly more speed this year. Obviously with Steven (Jackson) gone, we don't have a big, physical running back. The running backs we have now are a little smaller, but they're quicker in space. I don't know if it means if we're going to throw the ball more. I'd be fine with that. I would definitely think we'd probably move more to the one-back world, spread people out. I think that's probably the direction we're going."
Bradford is enthused with the addition of Cook's ability to get down the field.
"It's going to be hard for people to match up with him," Bradford said. "If they want to put a MIKE linebacker on him, then we'll take that matchup all day. It's just going to give us the ability to open the playbook and kind of stretch the middle of the field and put stress on the defense."
Bradford figures the offense will now be able to dictate to the defense, rather than the other way around.
He told espn.com, "It just seems like when we played teams in the past, they were pretty much saying, 'This is what we play, you can't beat us and we're going to play it.' I don't think teams are going to be able to do that anymore. They will have to design coverages to stop some of the players that we have."