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    Bernie Bytes: It's Bradford's Time To Lead

    Bernie Bytes: It's Bradford's time to lead

    14 hours ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist

    The Rams were the youngest NFL team in 2012, and if anything they’ll be even more youthful in the coming season. This can be interpreted in a number of ways.

    Two things jump out at me:

    First, GM Les Snead, head coach Jeff Fisher and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff are remaining disciplined in their vision for building the roster. They will not be tempted to rush into many shortcuts. The primary focus will be drafting the players and developing them, with the young talent maturing and reaching a peak and putting the Rams in good position for a nice run.

    Second — and this is related to the first point — the Rams have high hopes for their young and inexperienced skill-position players and are willing to gamble on their positive assessments. Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are better, now, than any Rams wide receiver.

    But the Rams clearly believe that Brian Quick and Chris Givens have more upside. So when making a choice the Rams preferred giving the opportunity to Givens and Quick instead of giving the premium money to keep Amendola and Gibson in place. And the Rams probably will draft a WR early in April’s draft.

    The same philosophy applies to the running back position, where Snead and Fisher will make an attempt to cultivate Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson and perhaps Terrance Ganaway instead of trying to squeeze an extra year or two from the respected Steven Jackson.

    This is all debatable, of course. But this is what the Rams have chosen to do, and they are sticking with it. A team is supposed to aspire, every year, to play in the Super Bowl. That should be the only goal. That sounds good as a coffee-mug slogan, or whatever. But I prefer seeing a team be realistic by knowing that their best shot at a Super Bowl will come later, if they do this right, instead of 2013.

    But there is a third consideration here, and pardon me for burying the lead in this article: this emphasis on youth also puts the onus on quarterback Sam Bradford to take over this team. He’ll have to take his leadership to a higher level.

    Bradford is no longer surrounded by football elders that included Jackson, Amendola and Gibson. There is still plenty of experience on the Rams offensive line but the skill-position players haven’t played much NFL football.

    The lack of experience is stunning really.

    Here are the career NFL snap counts by relevant skill-position players on the Rams roster:

    Sam Bradford, 2,901

    Lance Kendricks, 1,504

    Jared Cook, 1,434

    Matthew Mulligan, 1,021

    Austin Pettis, 746

    Chris Givens, 641

    Daryl Richardson, 314

    Brian Quick, 187

    Mike McNeill, 158

    Isaiah Pead, 42

    Terrance Ganaway, 5

    Bradford, still only 25, is the old man of this group. He’s played more downs of NFL football than any of his receivers, tight ends, running backs. And when Lance Kendricks is the second-most experienced guy among the guys that catch it and run it for a living, that only reinforces the Rams’ neophyte composition.

    Bradford has to take charge, more than ever. He’s respected for his dedicated work ethic, and for being an unselfish and caring teammate. Bradford, as the old people like me tend to say, has a good head on his shoulders.

    But there is room for growth here, and there is no choice; the others will be looking to him for guidance now. Bradford will have to be fully engaged in a way that he hasn’t had to deal with before. He can’t defer to Steven Jackson because SJ39 is an Atlanta Falcon. Sam can’t lean on Amendola; Danny is Tom Brady’s slot receiver now.

    This is Bradford’s team, and the young skill-position players will follow him. Bradford and this group will grow together. And if the “Bradford Boys” are as special as Snead and Fisher think they are, then the Rams will have something that’s built to last. But it all starts with the quarterback. It’s Sam’s time to lead.

  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: It's Bradford's Time To Lead

    Our RBs and receivers are young but the offensive line will be experienced. Our TEs are both battle tested. Sam will be year four. Young running backs don't bother me but young receivers do.

  3. #3
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: It's Bradford's Time To Lead

    Rambos, is it time to rehash the Bradford debate?? lol

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