St. Louis Rams: Does Sam Bradford Deserve the Hate?

Sam Bradford

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Who is Sam Bradford?

We can start by saying that he is not the second coming of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. He was drafted no. 1 overall by the St. Louis Rams in 2010 to be the face of the franchise for years to come. His career got off to a solid start in his rookie year, resulting in many media members jumping on his bandwagon. Even Kurt Warner said that he thought Bradford would be a superstar.

Bradford may never reach those expectations or give St. Louis The Worlds Greatest Show on Turf part II, but I can not remember Bradford ever butt-fumbling Mark Sanchez style, and he will never be asked to be a simple game-manager while in St. Louis like Trent Dilfer for the Baltimore Ravens.

Bradford’s career has been solid, as he has posted a QB rating of 78.3 while playing behind a sub-par offensive line. He has done most of his work with a sad excuse of a receiving corps that is just now being overhauled with young talent at the wideout and tight end positions.   The Rams have finally made some attempts to bring in talent around him, and his numbers this year are improved compared to his career averages.

He has 10 TDs through five weeks with only three interceptions, leading to a QB rating of 85.7, which is several points above his career average.  His touchdown percentage is up to 4.6 percent from 3.2, and his interception percentage is a career low of 1.4 percent while averaging 43 pass attempts per game.

This year, we have seen him struggling throwing the deep ball, particularly to Chris Givens. The playbook for the Rams has seemed to be a bland one that utilizes his accuracy for short gains, expecting the receivers like Tavon Austin to gain yards after the catch.

This is the part where I give you, the reader, a chance to live the Sam Bradford experience. You will get to see what life has been like for him in the past four years since being drafted.  This will take a few steps to complete, but bear with me here:

Step 1. Stand with a couple of your friends around you.
Step 2. Let one of your friends punch you every 30 seconds in either the ribs, head, legs, or arms (for more of a variation, have two of said friends punch you at the same time).
Step 3: How long into this Bradford experience does it take you to starting flinching or anticipating the punch landing?
Step 4:  Instead of punches from friends, imagine that they are full contact hits from athletic grown men weighing between 240-325 or more pounds, coming anywhere between 20-40 times within an hour.

If you have done this, then you have lived the Bradford experience. Would this affect your ability to hit a receiver? Keep in mind while his completion percentage is 58.6, if even half of the drops this year were caught, he would be over 60 percent. The Rams should implement more bootlegs and rollouts that utilize his ability to be accurate on the run.

This moves the pocket and doesn’t allow the defense to simply attack the same 3-5 step drop on every single passing down. He has shown an above-average ability to throw on the run throughout his entire career, so use those skills to add variety and creativity to the bland offensive playbook fans have seen so far.

My take on Bradford is if the Rams can give him consistent time to find the open man, he will hit them with the accuracy he possesses and truly earn an extension with the team.

Roy Whitehead is a St. Louis Rams writer for, follow him on twitter @roywhitehead1, or add him to your network on Google

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  • SurfinUSA

    Your analysis is spot on. I’ve read a lot of blogs and sportswriters in St. Louis excoriate Sam because he hasn’t turned water into wine. You are among the very few that have highlighted the reasonable explanations of Bradford’s travails.

    Sam thrived in Pat Shumur’s high percentage passing game and a more pure West Coast offense. Shumer guided St. Louis’ offense to improvements in nearly every category including total yards, time of possession and third-down percentage. That year the Rams scored 114 more points than the 2009. And then the Rams committed just 21 turnovers in 2010, tied for the ninth-lowest total in the NFL. You may have noticed Nick Foles had a great day last Sunday with Philadephia. The offensive coordinator: Pat Shumur.

    After the Josh McDaniel’s cluster-shtup, the consistency of the Brian Schottenheimer approach will get things straightened out. I watched old Marty’s offense system at San Diego and the Schottenheimer way has its quirks. But even with that, there are a bunch of young players at the Rams this year and it will take time for them to gel.

    LaDainan Tomlinson once said that carrying the ball in the NFL is like being involved in 30 high speed car wrecks per game because of the impact on the body. I can only imagine the physical punishment a quarterback takes as a non-moving target getting hit without any defensive action taken. That is one reason the quarterback is treated differently than the other 21 players on the field.

    I don’t want to start comparisons as they don’t equate but let’s remember David Carr at Houston was sacked 76 times in 2002, missed 6 games in 2003, then was sacked 48 times in 2004, 68 times in 2005, and 41 times in 2006. And this guy is considered a bust?

    I consider David Carr lucky to have survived the Houston offensive line. Carr deserves the Medal of Honor for giving up his body. Sam should be awarded purple hearts instead of having hammers thrown at him by the fans and bloggers in St. Louis.

    The Rams haven’t had the same sad situation as the Texans but I wonder where Bradford would be if he had an offensive line and a receiving corp the last few years that Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson enjoy. I have a feeling his picture would be on the Wheatie’s box instead of every other story being full of question marks about his talent.

    Jeff Fisher had his choice of taking the Miami job or the Rams spot. He has said dozens of times he came to St. Louis because to “have a franchise quarterback like Bradford come along in a career is rare and special.” Fisher’s track record is solid that he understands talent. I think if the Rams fans will be just a little more patient and less strident, they will see this team come together. Until then, they need to lay off Bradford and let him develop in a good system with some emerging talent around him.