With word out of camp from the St. Louis Rams still saying that quarterback Sam Bradford’s ankle is less than 100 percent healthy, it is imperative that the team finds a way to protect their prized QB in the 2012 campaign. In his 26 career starts, Bradford has been sacked an unheard of 70 times while also being hurried on an additional 73 occasions, having been knocked down a whopping 151 times, and hit 30 times in the act of throwing. Those numbers must be greatly improved if the club wants to get him through the year healthy.
Rams fans remember all too well the story of former quarterback Marc Bulger who excelled for a number of years before the punishment finally got the best of him and forced his retirement. Many have been worried that much like other former number one overall picks like David Carr, Bradford has been under the gun so often that he has become gun shy. Add in the tendency to brace for impact with a pre-existing injury like his ankle and that becomes a tricky formula to balance.
ESPN’s Ron Jaworski is worried about his development as a quarterback as he said: “In 2011, Bradford, with very few exceptions, did not look like the same, confident pocket quarterback that I saw as a rookie. He was tentative in the pocket, a function of both erratic offensive line play and receivers that could not win on the outside. I was troubled by Bradford’s increasing tendency to anticipate the rush. I call that ‘cabin fever.’ And Bradford struggled with that.”
Where new Head Coach Jeff Fisher figures into this equation is that he vows for a different outcome with Sam Bradford than Carr realized. His style is much more running intensive which will back off the rush on the edge and make defensive linemen stay honest, not allowing them to pin their ears back and cut loose on the quarterback. According to Fisher: “We’re not going to let that happen.”
The numbers speak for themselves and the Rams need to rectify their protection issues if Bradford has any hope of becoming a consistently successful quarterback in the years ahead. Especially with his lingering ankle issues, Fisher will need to take extra caution when game-planning to make his QB as comfortable as possible on game day.
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