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    Bernie: Bradford In Position To Succeed

    Bernie: Bradford in position to succeed

    11 hours ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ •

    The frequently dispensed idea of 2013 being a “make or break” year for Sam Bradford intrigues me. I suppose this is another example of the reality-TV mentality seeping into sports again.

    We must have drama and declare everyone an instant winner or a loser, with no room for moderate, reasonable views or nuance.

    The last time I looked Bradford was a quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, not a contestant on “The Apprentice.” Coach Jeff Fisher will assess their quarterback’s job performance; we won’t see Donald Trump telling Bradford “you’re fired!”

    I expect good things from Bradford this season. He’ll be surrounded by the fastest and most talented offensive cast he’s had since the Rams drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010. But this is also the youngest group of skill-position players he’s worked with in the NFL, and it will be a challenge to synch all of the rookies and second-year players.

    With more playmakers and a variety of weapons, Bradford is in position to make more big plays. He should benefit from the enhanced security provided by new left-side offensive tackle, Jake Long. And Bradford should gain traction in working with the same offensive coordinator – Brian Schottenheimer – in successive years for the first time in his NFL career.

    It’s a big season for Bradford, but not a “make or break” year.

    I don’t even know what the term “make or break” means. Does Bradford have to be voted to the Pro Bowl or set passing records? Is it mandatory for the Rams to make the playoffs?

    What would qualify as a “break” year? If the Rams finish under .500, or if Bradford is less than sensational – is he out?

    Bradford’s salary jumps to $14 million in 2014. So yeah, if he stinks up stadiums in 2013, the Rams will have to reconsider his status as a franchise quarterback.

    I don’t see that happening. I say that because Bradford, when healthy, has done more than given credit for. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010, and the Rams improved from 1-15 to 7-9.

    The 2011 season was a throwaway for the injured Bradford and virtually everyone associated with the franchise.

    In 2012, Bradford took advantage of the stability and direction provided by Fisher’s hiring. Bradford displayed across-the-board improvement, the Rams rebounded from a 2-14 record and went 7-8-1 for their best finish since 2006.

    Given the many horrific, lost seasons of Rams football, I don’t think Bradford should apologize for compiling a 14-17-1 record in his two healthy seasons.

    People say he doesn’t make the team better?

    When healthy, Bradford has already done that – twice.

    Bradford progressed more than most realized 2012, establishing career highs for yardage (3,702), yards per attempt (6.7), touchdown passes (21), NFL passer rating (82.6) and Total QBR (51.6). By the way: Total QBR, developed by ESPN, is a newer, more refined system of evaluating quarterback play.

    Bradford’s 21 touchdown passes were more than Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and Cam Newton. And only one fewer than Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub. I didn’t see Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin or Andre Johnson in a Rams uniform.

    I’ll present the general criticism of Bradford’s play in 2012 and try to address each point.

    1. Bradford can’t throw the deep ball.

    In 20012 Bradford was rated 12th among NFL quarterbacks in deep-pass accuracy by the respected analysts at Pro Football Focus. His deep-ball accuracy scored higher than that of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Flacco, Cutler and Tony Romo.

    2. Bradford doesn’t throw well when under pressure.

    Pro Football Focus had him 12th in accuracy when delivering throws when hurried by the pass rush – ahead of Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Brady, Rivers, Newton, Cutler and Stafford.

    3. Bradford isn’t a “clutch” quarterback.

    According to Mike Sando of, Bradford ranked fourth behind Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick and Cutler in Total QBR during fourth quarters and overtimes. Bradford was tied for third among NFL quarterbacks with four fourth-quarter comebacks, and he finished sixth with three game-winning drives.

    4. Bradford doesn’t make plays inside the red zone.

    During the Rams’ bye week, the coaches ripped up their red-zone offense and put in a new one. The result: over the final eight games Bradford threw nine touchdown passes and one interception for an impressive red-zone passer rating of 101.8.

    5. Bradford isn’t a take-charge leader.

    Actually, I agree with that one.

    Moving forward, the Rams can help Bradford by putting him in a more compatible offense; he favors going with more no-huddle, operating out of the spread, and playing at a faster tempo.

    In San Francisco and Seattle, the coaches designed offenses to fit the strengths of their young quarterbacks. The good news: Schottenheimer now has the parts to assemble the proper vehicle for Bradford.

    For his part Bradford can help the Rams by becoming a more demonstrative, proactive leader. He understands that.

    “Just being more vocal,” Bradford said. “Year two, I feel a lot more comfortable in the system. I know how things are supposed to look and the way I want things to be run. The depths, the details, ‘hey, this is how that route has to be.’ Pulling guys in the film room. Watching the previous day’s practice with them. All those things where I’m taking control of the offense.”

    This won’t be a make or break year for Bradford, but a breakout year would be nice. Either way, the pressure is on.

  2. #2
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    Re: Bernie: Bradford In Position To Succeed

    Sam Bradford will be a pro bowl caliber player next year. Can't wait to see it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Bernie: Bradford In Position To Succeed

    5. Bradford isn’t a take-charge leader.

    Actually, I agree with that one.
    You will be proven WRONG on that one Bernie. Steven Jackson is gone, and it is Sam's team - Sam knows this. You will see more "take charge" attitude from Bradford this year guaranteed. He may be polite and soft spoken during interviews, but there is big time fire in his eyes when he is on the field. He's not going to tolerate Alex ("what's the snap count again?" Barron dumb mistakes from anyone. He will hold guys accountable.

    This won’t be a make or break year for Bradford, but a breakout year would be nice. Either way, the pressure is on.
    I'd say that goes for every Qb in the league. Kind of comes along with the job - right? Banality comes to mind. You can do better Bernie.

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