The St. Louis Rams' new offense was supposed to involve turning Sam Bradford's cannon of a throwing arm loose after a season in Pat Shurmur's straitjacketed pass attack, and through five games we saw some version of that offense, however deeply inconsistent it proved to be. Bradford's yards per attempt was identical to 2010's mark—6.0, still among the lowest in football—but his yards per completion had leapt by nearly a yard-and-a-half, moving toward mid-pack after a season as the only full-time starter in the NFL whose average completion went for fewer than 10 yards.
No clearer picture of that offense emerged than on September 19, in which the Rams' Monday Night Football loss to the New York Giants featured an incredibly dynamic offense hidden by some incredibly terrible red zone play. Despite completing fewer than half his passes Bradford finished with his second highest Y/A mark of the season, thanks to a Y/C of 14. That's the Josh McDaniels offense—and it's the offense the Rams have decided to build at considerable opportunity cost.
Without Bradford the Rams have had to go to A.J. Feeley, and while he won them their first game of the season Week 8 against New Orleans, he's served as nothing so much as a monumental regression to the days of Shurmurball, averaging an ugly 9.6 Y/C and an even less impressive 4.67 Y/A.
There's something promising in all that mediocrity-by-necessity, though—it's only by the grace of new acquisition Brandon Lloyd that Feeley's averaging even that many yards per completed pass. In his 12 receptions in two weeks as a Ram Lloyd has averaged 10.6 yards on 12 receptions, including Feeley's only touchdown pass.
As it turns out, Brandon Lloyd—a combination of actual wide receiver talent and complete familiarity with Josh McDaniels's offensive scheme—is good enough to make even A.J. Feeley look competent on his targets. That's something the Sam Bradford we saw in New York and Green Bay is going to have the chance to take advantage of, and it could prove to be all the difference in this 2011 Rams season.