St. Louis Rams  

 

Rams RB Jackson shouldn't get lost in Bradford shuffle

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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It's easy to look at the St. Louis Rams' draft and wonder if, in their zeal to maximize Sam Bradford's passing numbers, they forgot about the need for offensive balance.

The Rams clearly went out of their way to stock up on pass-catchers, using three of their first four picks on a tight end and a pair of wide receivers. But it would be wrong to conclude that they view their running game as a mere afterthought.

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The Rams still will make every effort to get ample production from running back Steven Jackson, because he still has ample production to give. And when the time comes, they also can be expected to make a fairly strong push in free agency for a complementary back, such as speedy Darren Sproles.

I've heard from multiple Rams followers who are concerned that new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is going to be so consumed with making his mark on the passing game that the rushing attack -- and the offense as a whole -- will ultimately suffer.

Based on all of the feedback I have received from in and around the team, nothing could be further from the truth. The organizational thinking, as set forth by coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney, calls for balance to be an offensive priority. Spagnuolo's defensive roots make it natural for him to want the offense's efforts to align with the ability to have success on the other side of the ball. The rest of the NFC West teams might not have as promising a quarterback as the Rams do, but their offenses still must be stopped if St. Louis is to realize the full benefit of Bradford's talent.

McDaniels won't sway from that thinking. Despite his struggles as a head coach for the Denver Broncos, McDaniels is expected to remain true to the mentoring he received as an offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. Among the many lessons he learned was contouring his game plan to each opponent's strengths and weaknesses, meaning he must be just as open to utilizing his running game to the fullest as he is to relying on Bradford's arm.

McDaniels also knows how much Bradford will appreciate what the threat of a legitimate ground attack can do to help slow down the opponents' pass rush.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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