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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    By Clark Judge
    CBSSports.com Senior Writer
    Dec. 9, 2010

    There is a lesson in the overnight success of the St. Louis Rams, and the lesson is this: Never, ever, ever pass up the chance to draft a franchise quarterback. The Rams didn't, and look where they are now -- on top of the NFC West.

    I don't care that it's the worst division in pro football, nor do I care that 8-8 -- or less -- might be good enough to win it. What I do care about is that the St. Louis Rams are credible, competitive and whole again, finding ways to win games that a year ago they would've been out of by halftime.

    Their defense is better. Their running back is a load. And their quarterback is so good that 12 games into his rookie season he's already the best in the division.

    I'm talking, of course, of Sam Bradford, whom the Rams chose with the first pick in this year's draft. In one season the guy has made such an impact that the Rams already have five more wins (they're 6-6) than they did last season (1-15) and are in play for their first playoff spot since 2003. I don't know if they make it, and, frankly, it doesn't matter. They're already a success, and they're a success because they solved the game's most important position.

    Bradford is to the Rams what Matt Ryan was to the 2008 Atlanta Falcons -- a steady, competent and confident young quarterback whose big plays have the club back on the NFL map.

    Not that long ago, St. Louis was a team of no consequence, stuck in the no-passing lane because it didn't have much of a quarterback, offensive line, defense, you name it. In fact, aside from star running back Steven Jackson it was hard to find anyone with a pulse, and the results speak for themselves: In 2008-09, the Rams were 3-29, and over the last three years they won as many games (6) as they have this season. During the last six seasons there wasn't one winning year.

    To say the Rams were bad is an understatement. They were horrific, and I remember last season asking GM Billy Devaney how long he thought it might take to make them competitive again. He said one year. I thought he was joking. Then he drafted Sam Bradford.

    "When we were down in Oklahoma (prior to the draft), we talked to his teammates, coaches and everyone around the program," said Devaney, "and the one thing that jumped out at us was the amount of respect they had for him. They all had the same thing to say. And it was that quality, as much as his competitive nature and talent, that attracted us. We were sure the players in the locker room were going to accept and respect him, and they have."

    Then he paused. "He's a quarterback," he said.

    Now, you'd have to know Devaney to understand he gushes about his own rookies as readily as Detroit wins road games, and you can't blame him. The guy's been around young players who flashed before -- heck, he was with the Washington Redskins when Timmy Smith ran for a Super Bowl-record 204 yards -- so he's cautious about pumping up anyone who hasn't been around the block a full season.

    But Bradford is different. I watched him in the second half of an overtime loss to San Francisco, and it wasn't winning quarterback Troy Smith who caught my attention. It was Bradford. He was as unflappable as he was accurate on a last-minute drive that led to a game-tying field goal. It wasn't the ***** who stopped him. It was the clock. And it was then I realized Sam Bradford is everything that Ryan was the moment he stepped on the field for the Falcons ... which is a sure thing.

    But it wasn't Bradford's talents the Rams questioned. It was an injury to his throwing shoulder that sidelined him most of last season and had some draftniks warning St. Louis that Bradford was a risk with the first pick. The Rams nodded, then went about their business, checking with physicians, shoulder experts and anyone with knowledge of the injury to determine what -- if any -- gamble they were running by drafting Bradford.

    "They all assured us that the shoulder would be as strong, if not stronger, as the left one," said Devaney. "They also told us he was no more of a risk than he was before the surgery."

    That sold the Rams, and it should have. Though Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were at or near the top of most draft boards, the Rams never wavered in their support of Bradford. Nor should they. Suh and McCoy are franchise players themselves, but defensive tackles don't take you to the top; quarterbacks can, and from what I've seen of Sam Bradford the Rams are dead-bolt cinches to win their division-- if not this year, then next.

    Yep, he makes that much of a difference, and the Rams had a suspicion when Bradford made his first pro start. That would have been the third preseason game when the opponent was New England and expectations weren't high. The Rams wanted to see how he'd respond to his first start since October, how his shoulder held up and, frankly, how he performed in what was the closest thing to a meaningful preseason game.

    The results were overwhelming. He completed his first six passes, was 15 of 22 for 189 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He led the Rams to scores on three of four first-half drives and four of their first six. He staked them to a 20-14 halftime lead in a game they would win on a last-second field goal and, basically, demonstrated he was everything they imagined.

    "It was an absolutely magnificent game," said Devaney.

    That could describe almost any of Bradford's starts the past two months. The Rams won three of their last five, four of their last five at home and just completed a two-game sweep of road games in Denver and Arizona. Bradford is quick to credit his teammates, particularly Jackson, but let's be honest here: While Steven Jackson is a marvelous back and the premier playmaker on the Rams ("The Reggie Jackson of the club," said Devaney. "The straw that stirs the drink") he was there when the club stunk.

    Then Bradford arrived, and the Rams are tied atop their division.

    A coincidence? I don't think so. I look at a quarterback who, over his last seven starts, has 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions; two games where he completed at least 71 percent of his passes; two games with passer ratings of 112 or better; his first 300-yard performance; a streak of 169 straight passes without an interception, and I see someone you can build a football team around.

    Look, the Rams aren't a great team. They're not a very good one, either. But they're so much better than they were, and the arrow is pointing north. Their offensive line is sound for the first time in years. Their defense is faster, smarter and better. In Jackson, they have one of the top backs in the league, but they're still short on the outside, where they lost their top two receivers to injuries.

    Then there's Sam Bradford, and I've seen enough of young quarterbacks to know when someone has a good one. And the St. Louis Rams do.

    He's a slam dunk to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is smart. He is accurate. He is poised. He is productive. Most important, he is young. The future of Sam Bradford looks good. The future of the St. Louis Rams looks better. He has the Rams not just back on the NFL map but back in the playoff picture, and hallelujah.

    As I said, there's a lesson there, and the next team in line for a quarterback would be wise to follow. One guy is not supposed to make a difference in a football team, but one quarterback just has. The St. Louis Rams are better because of Sam Bradford, and so is the NFC West.


  2. #2
    QUINNtessentialTruth's Avatar
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Great read, great article

  3. #3
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Here's a thought...what if in a year or two, Sam takes us back to the Super Bowl...to defeat the Hatriots? How sweet that would be?
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

    Jack Youngblood

  4. #4
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonJoe View Post
    Here's a thought...what if in a year or two, Sam takes us back to the Super Bowl...to defeat the Hatriots? How sweet that would be?
    Whats wrong with this year?

  5. #5
    MoonJoe's Avatar
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RamOG View Post
    Whats wrong with this year?
    That would move up from "awesome" to Totally Super Outstanding!"
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

    Jack Youngblood

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    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonJoe View Post
    Here's a thought...what if in a year or two, Sam takes us back to the Super Bowl...to defeat the Hatriots? How sweet that would be?
    there's one very big thing wrong in your scenario... the patriots playing in the SB!!!!

    how about this: Patriots go 1-15 and Rams beat the Steelers getting revenge 32 years late.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Surprised that Devaney say that it was only going to take 1 year for the rebuild.

  8. #8
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Great article nice read.Sam is our savior the QB we have been looking for since Kurt left.The future is bright and where most ppl are content with our success this season im not.I want playoffs and then after that its just exceeding expectations tremendously ill take whatever happens.Im thankful for the quick turn around but we have a chance to actually make a playoff push so i wont be happy until we make it in.

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    clarasDK is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Wierd to consider that one more win this year and we have more wins than the last 3 years combined.

    It's good to be a Ram fan again

    Go Bradford GO RAMS!

  10. #10
    AlphaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Don't you guys know that we would be undefeated if we had signed Mcnabb? Surely the newspaper does not lie...

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  11. #11
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Gotta get SAM some WRs next year, Durable ones! Wouldn't mind T.O. as an option!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    ZiaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bradford pick perfectly clicks for resurgent Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by KoaKoi View Post
    there's one very big thing wrong in your scenario... the patriots playing in the SB!!!!

    how about this: Patriots go 1-15 and Rams beat the Steelers getting revenge 32 years late.
    lol KoaKoi I would without a doubt love to see this come into fruitation!!!

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