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  1. #1
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    Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    Bernie Miklasz
    Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:35 am |

    It isn't easy to evaluate the play of Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. The general perception is that Bradford has regressed in his second NFL season.

    Well, is it true? The answer defies any attempt at simplicity.

    There are many layers to this, and a lot of gray area.

    Let's try to break it down ...

    No. 1, statistically speaking, Bradford has slipped, virtually across the board. We're talking third-down passing, red-zone passing and his performance against the blitz.

    The trend actually began to take hold last season, after NFL defenses locked on to ways to take away the Rams' favorite passing plays. I don't want to bore you with all of the numbers; I'll save that for an upcoming online blog. But there's been considerable erosion in key areas.

    No. 2, Bradford has experienced a challenging transition in moving from the West Coast offense to the more complex system installed by new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Bradford must adjust the pass protection. He didn't have that responsibility as a rookie.

    Last season Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur set Bradford up with shorter, quicker passes that featured fewer options. This season, with a more diverse passing attack in place, Bradford has to make more decisions; that often leaves him holding the ball for a longer time. And that places him at greater risk.

    San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith has greatly benefited from a stripped-down offense arranged by new ***** coach Jim Harbaugh. But Bradford has struggled in operating a significantly expanded offense. It shouldn't be a surprise. Going back to his final season at Oklahoma, Bradford has been asked to operate three different offenses in three seasons.

    No. 3, it's certainly accurate to assign blame to the Rams' front office, which only recently added an elite receiver, Brandon Lloyd. (And no disrespect to Lloyd, but let's not confuse him with Larry Fitzgerald.) The Rams and Bradford still suffer from a shortage of playmakers. Moreover, injuries have greatly damaged the stability of his receiving cast.

    The receivers haven't helped the cause; they are stunting Bradford's growth. Acccording to the film-review analysis done by Pro Football Focus, the Rams have dropped 22 of Bradford's passes this year. Translation: Bradford has been victimized by the highest dropped-pass percentage rate among NFL starting QBs.

    No. 4, the Rams inexplicably failed to give Bradford a designated QB coach this season. When McDaniels signed on, quarterbacks coach Richard Curl was essentially asked to retire, with McDaniels taking over the role. But that's a lot to put on one coach, especially after the offseason was wiped out by the labor dispute. It's incomprehensible how the Rams could take Bradford into his second NFL season without assistance from a stand-alone quarterbacks coach there to polish his fundamentals.

    No. 5, Bradford is more vulnerable to physical punishment in the McDaniels offense, especially behind an offensive line that often fails to put a firewall around him. Bradford has been sacked 27 times this season; that's tied for the second-highest total among NFL quarterbacks. And he missed two games or the sack total would be higher.

    Bradford has been hit 28 times and hurried 79 times in seven games. (Ugh.) According to Pro Football Focus, Bradford has been under pressure on 37 percent of his dropbacks; only five NFL quarterbacks have been under more fire. Bradford's accuracy plunges when he's under duress. His completion rate of 45.7 percent when pressured is the third-worst in the league.

    No. 6, the Rams' defense has been a major disappointment for much of the season, and that puts the offense at a disadvantage. The Rams' offense must play catch-up too many times, and that leaves Bradford more exposed. And with the defense creating fewer turnovers — only 10 in nine games — field position is a problem. Last season the Rams averaged a starting-point possession at the 33-yard line at home, and the 29-yard line on the road. Both starting-point averages have decreased by 5 yards this season.

    There are some positives. Pro Football Focus uses a more advanced formula in compiling passer ratings. The rating eliminates dropped passes, throwaways and spikes from the equation. It also uses "air" yards, counting the yards at the point of the catch, rather than the yards gained after the catch.

    And Bradford's 81.9 adjusted passer rating is actually better than his adjusted rating of 77.1 as a rookie. He's increased his point-of-catch average to 6.3 yards this season, up from 4.4 yards in 2010.

    Can Bradford play better? Absolutely. He's completed only seven of 28 passes in the red zone this season, and that's simply awful. That's a prime reason the Rams haven't scored more than a single offensive touchdown in any of Bradford's seven games this season.

    Bradford has also been alarmingly inaccurate on the more intermediate throws, completing only 21 of 55 passes (38.2 percent) on balls that travel between 11 and 20 yards. He hit on 52 percent of those throws last season. And on passes that travel 21+ yards in the air, Bradford has completed only 8 of 27. Bradford has maintained his high completion percentage on passes that travel 10 yards or less, so that's a plus.

    (In an earlier version of the column, I erred in listing Bradford's completion percentages on his short passing attempts in 2010 and 2011. I've corrected the error and apologize to Bradford and the readers for the mistake.)

    Still, Bradford's downfield accuracy must improve. Sure, some of that can be blamed on the offensive line and the team's inadequate, injury-ravaged receivers. But Bradford still misses too many open targets. The really good quarterbacks are capable of rising above adverse conditions.

    The Rams' quarterback job should come with painkiller and Kevlar vests. Quarterbacks have been taking a beating around here for too long.

    And that's what is so unsettling about the way Bradford is trending: The more he's knocked around, the less accurate he becomes. Yes, Sam must elevate his play. But more than anything, it's up to this organization to surround Bradford with better talent to protect him, and to catch for him.

    Bradford's dedication to the game is unquestioned. He's a film-study guy, and it's difficult to get him to go home. You'd hate to see this young prince of a quarterback eventually turn into another beaten-down, battered and mentally defeated Marc Bulger.


  2. #2
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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    I think the off season might do Sam wonders.

    But, being a Rams fan, I guess I'm always going to think the best. However, I still--despite how Bradford has played this season--have a lot of faith in him; certainly I understand his misfortunes. We can only hope when next year comes around, our depleted IR team is back to the healthy status.

    In all seriousness, I think, simply to please the fans--yes, to please us, the Rams need to get a new strength and conditioning coach. The amount of injuries this year, like I said in another post, is staggering and it couldn't have all been necessarily bad luck. I hate to blame someone for something they can't really control--but it seems like there's been significant amount of injuries, consistently, the past several years. The preemptive plan the coach(s) has implemented for the players obviously hasn't been effective. Something has to change.


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    And that's what is so unsettling about the way Bradford is trending: The more he's knocked around, the less accurate he becomes.
    This is why IMO that we need to upgrade the O-line before we get a deep threat WR.


    He's completed only seven of 28 passes in the red zone this season, and that's simply awful.
    This is a shocker to me we stink in the Red zone and this is why.


    The Rams' quarterback job should come with painkiller and Kevlar vests. Quarterbacks have been taking a beating around here for too long.
    The Rams need to build a great O line that will protect Sam. When Sam has a clean pocket and can go through his progressions and step up and throw he will be very accurate. Until that happens expect more of the same. Sam is saying all the right things today if he keeps taking a beating expect that to change over time. When the Rams drafted Sam one of the big questions that needed to be answered, will he hold up physically because the Rams have such a bad O line. Last year was fools gold.. this line still stinks and it need to be address.
    Last edited by Rambos; -11-18-2011 at 09:52 AM.

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    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    I think the article illustrates that it is tough to assess Bradford in year two. On the surface, he hasn't made the leaps and bounds one would hope for coming off a promising rookie season. But upon further review, there are some very real obstacles that have stood in his way, plus the burden of different responsibilities he didn't have as a rookie (pass protections, a new offense, etc).

    One problem with the offensive line is that the Rams ALREADY HAVE invested heavily in this unit, and they've badly underachieved. Pumping more money into that unit will only divert investment that could be going into the other areas of the team that need extensive makeovers. But not doing so endangers Bradford's long term health- It's a catch 22.

    I also think the playcalling is terribly vanilla at times, especially in the red zone and especially since McDaniels came over here with the reputation of being some kind of "offensive guru" 1st and ten from the 15- run Jackson, run Jackson, throw a 3 yard checkdown on 3rd and 7. Garbage. Where's the creativity?

  5. #5
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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    fire loney now.
    Kiss my ass, football gods

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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post

    One problem with the offensive line is that the Rams ALREADY HAVE invested heavily in this unit, and they've badly underachieved. Pumping more money into that unit will only divert investment that could be going into the other areas of the team that need extensive makeovers. But not doing so endangers Bradford's long term health- It's a catch 22.
    I agree we have invested too much in this O line. But they have to fix it... weather the the Rams shuffle the current potions, spend a high draft pick(not a fan favorite) add a vet or two in FA. I don't know what is the best way to get it done. If the Rams don't get it fix soon, Bradford will never be a franchise QB.

    I agree that playmakers on the outside will help Bradford, can't wait to see Sam have two WR that are healthy and legit. But long term I would much rather see Sam throwing from a clean pocket then taking a pounding and losing his accuracy and confidence.

    I don't care how just fix it.

  7. #7
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I think the article illustrates that it is tough to assess Bradford in year two. On the surface, he hasn't made the leaps and bounds one would hope for coming off a promising rookie season. But upon further review, there are some very real obstacles that have stood in his way, plus the burden of different responsibilities he didn't have as a rookie (pass protections, a new offense, etc).
    Agreed. Combined with no OTA's, minicamps or offseason contact with J-Mac.


    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    One problem with the offensive line is that the Rams ALREADY HAVE invested heavily in this unit, and they've badly underachieved. Pumping more money into that unit will only divert investment that could be going into the other areas of the team that need extensive makeovers. But not doing so endangers Bradford's long term health- It's a catch 22.
    I know I am probably with the minority here, but I agree with Rambos. A great line helps both the running game and the passing game.

    If one is trying to enhance the performance of an engine, and one spends big bucks on more carburetion and a supercharger, in all likelihood there will be a big increase in horsepower. However, if one can hear a rod or two knocking,(i.e. our O-line) with the existing carburetion, would it not be wiser to spend the heavy bucks on rebuilding the bottom end first? Otherwise (if a rod or two goes) that supercharger and carburetion upgrade won't help very much, (i.e. Bradford out for a season).

    I realize some have called for Loney's head on a platter, and maybe he should be replaced, I don't pretend to know if much or most of our O-line woes are the result of coaching ineptitude, but my guess is lack of talent and desire are perhaps larger factors.

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I also think the playcalling is terribly vanilla at times, especially in the red zone and especially since McDaniels came over here with the reputation of being some kind of "offensive guru" 1st and ten from the 15- run Jackson, run Jackson, throw a 3 yard checkdown on 3rd and 7. Garbage. Where's the creativity?
    Agree with "vanilla," but when we do grind our way to the redzone, unless we are down by 14 or more, the old "something (3 pts) is better than nothing" adage may apply here with regard to the coaching staff's playcalling, as opposed to 0 points or even worse - a turnover. The "Greatest Show On Turf" we are not - right now anyway ..

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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    You guys are right. Despite past efforts and expense, the line needs to be addressed yet again. Devaney's and Spags' belief- that you build from the lines out- is absolutely the right strategy but unfortunately, he guys we've gone to battle all range from poor to hurt to underachievers. And it's holding us back big time.

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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    He needs and offense and solid O line/OR a handful of playmakers on the outside.Sometimes the best way to hide a bad pass protecting line is to get the ball out quickly to the wideouts.If we can add some fast and good talent at the position i think we can hide the o line problems to a certain degree.We can draft some1 but not round 1 or 2 those rounds need to be playmakers.Thats 1 option i think will work.Our recievers suck except Lloyd Salas and pettis are young i dont fault them Gibson sucks i hate him and DX cant stay healthy he needs t be gone hes to fragile honestly.If we had the Cowboys WR core for example we would be nasty good on offense with dez/miles/lloyd and then SJ in the backfield yea.So we need to add some1 across Lloyd to be the second man and i think we will be good.

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    Re: Assessing Bradford's play is tough to do ..

    This season has seen a bunch of injuries to the team and Bradford. Dropped passes, bad Protection, etc. That said, at other times Bradford had plain looked bad. He has had trouble with the longer passes. I don't think there's any denying that, is there?

    Next year is the year. No excuses. If his production stays at 1 TD or less per game leading the Rams offense it's over as far as I'm concerned. It's a 3 year limit for me.

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