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  1. #1
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    Bradford shows he won't back down

    Bradford shows he won't back down
    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ | Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 12:15 am

    The Arizona Cardinals were determined to knock the kid back to Oklahoma. They came at him in waves, tossing Sam Bradford around so much that at times the quarterback in the No. 8 jersey looked more like a piece of laundry tumbling in the dryer.

    And even though the Rams lost the season's first game, the Rams' rookie quarterback passed the first test. He shook off the pain, cleared his head and got up to throw again. The Cardinals tried their ferocious best to put Bradford away by breaking his spirit, and perhaps a couple of body parts. The Cardinals tried to disorient him with their tricks and deception.

    The Cardinals were on a mission to get to Bradford's body and inside of his head and frustrate him into submission. But at the end of the game, Big Easy was firing away, not shrinking from the moment, still standing tall and prepared to fight until the clock ran out.

    "Sam is not afraid to lead," Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "He's not afraid of anything."

    There were no signs of physical or mental weakness, no loss of confidence or will power. In his first real NFL game, nothing flustered Bradford. Not the speed of the game, the direct hits or the sneak attacks from blitzers. Not the missed connections with receivers, or his rookie mistakes or the taunting from Arizona's defensive players.

    "I felt like I was very composed," Bradford said. "I felt like I really didn't get rattled."

    Bradford didn't win Sunday's game at the Edward Jones Dome. The Cardinals came back for a 17-13 victory that wasn't crossed off until they held Bradford off late, intercepting him twice in the final minutes, the second on the obligatory jump-ball desperation pass into the end zone.

    But the Cardinals walked off the field knowing that they will see the kid again this season, in a rematch at Arizona. And they will see Bradford many times during his career, and they may not be looking forward to it. Because it is only a matter of time until Bradford starts winning games like this.

    "Sam Bradford is going to be a special player," said Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona's All-Pro wideout.

    The rookie's right arm may need to be iced down today, after his 32 completions in 55 attempts for 253 yards. Fifty-five passes in his first NFL game? So much for the idea that Rams coaches would be reluctant to turn Bradford loose.

    "Probably a little higher (total) than I would have imagined," Bradford said. "But, you know, I play quarterback. I throw the ball. That's what I like to do. I threw it a lot in college, so I'm used to it. If it's something we have to do as a team, I'm comfortable with it."

    Until that final long-shot heave shot into the end zone, this was set up for a fantastic finish for Bradford. It's the script that the Rams and their fans wanted to come true. First NFL start, dramatic setting, a chance to win, time running out, and the rookie finding a way to save the day.

    Bradford already had made a bid by showing tremendous poise in delivering a fourth-down touchdown pass at the end of the first half to tie the game 10-10. And by rebounding from an early interception to complete 14 of his next 23 passes to help give the Rams a 13-10 lead. More outrageously, Bradford outfought 285-pound Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett for a loose football (following a Rams fumble) to keep a scoring drive alive. And Bradford prevented a late TD by chasing down Cardinal safety Kerry Rhodes after Rhodes had picked him off.

    Wrestling a big defensive tackle and coming up with the football?

    Sprinting 30 yards downfield to tackle a breakaway defensive back?

    No, Marc Bulger doesn't work here anymore.

    Bradford passed every test except the ultimate one winning. But it's up to the organization to give Bradford a more realistic chance at it. The difference in this game? Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson, who struggled with accuracy through much of the game, was bailed out by two dynamic wide receivers.

    Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston came to a late rescue by exploiting the Rams' depleted stock of cornerbacks. They made big plays. They cracked the defense, and the game, open. The Arizona wideouts were able to turn Anderson into a winning QB.

    The Rams simply do not have receivers to do for Bradford what Fitzgerald and Breaston did for Anderson. There is no deep threat on the outside. There is nothing for the secondary to fear. No one. Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola and Laurent Robinson are fine for what they do, but what they cannot do is strike quickly.

    Of Bradford's 32 completions Sunday, 27 gained 9 yards or fewer. And when the defense can sit back knowing that the Rams have no choice but to go deep, as was the case late in the fourth quarter? Forget about it. Unless a defender slips or blows an assignment, there's virtually no chance for a Rams home run.

    And Rams offensive coaches didn't find a way to make Arizona pay for all of the blitzes. They couldn't come up with one running play to burn the blitz and get Steven Jackson running in open space for long gains.

    Bradford has a lot of things working against him, and he still nearly pulled it off. Of course, "almost" isn't good enough to win in the NFL. But if the Rams can put an offense around Bradford and get him a true, game-changing receiver ...

    "The sky is the limit for this kid," Ryan said.

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  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    The Rams simply do not have receivers to do for Bradford what Fitzgerald and Breaston did for Anderson. There is no deep threat on the outside. There is nothing for the secondary to fear. No one. Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola and Laurent Robinson are fine for what they do, but what they cannot do is strike quickly.

    Of Bradford's 32 completions Sunday, 27 gained 9 yards or fewer. And when the defense can sit back knowing that the Rams have no choice but to go deep, as was the case late in the fourth quarter? Forget about it. Unless a defender slips or blows an assignment, there's virtually no chance for a Rams home run.
    This is an interesting point, specifically the bolded part. Consider that only Trent Edwards (4.09) and Kevin Kolb (2.4) had a lower yards-per-attempt average than Bradford (4.6) in Week One. This despite Bradford tying for third in the league with three "big play passes" ( > 25 yards). Without those completions of 39, 36, and 33 yards, Sam was 29/52 for a mere 145 yards (2.8 ypa). Needless to say, hopefully this offense opens up as the season progresses.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Nick, do you think the offense has the WR's it needs to really open up later in the season? Now I could be completely wrong, but I think we'll see a lot of low YPA games this year. I don't see a deep threat in our WR's and so I imagine we'll see a lot of short passes. Now, hopefully getting Jackson established earlier will help, but I'm not holding my breath.

    That being said Bradford's YPA may have been a bit higher if it weren't for all those dropped passes.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    is where we gonna miss Donnie...hopefully Gilyard can get a job done in the role as the season rolls on.

    but hey..lets blame it all on Shurmur...

  5. #5
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    I don't think Avery makes much of a difference. Yeah, we may not have a deep threat as good as him but when was the last time Avery put up a 100 yard game? He has inconsistent hands. I honestly prefer having Clayton out there rather than Avery.

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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Sprinting 30 yards downfield to tackle a breakaway defensive back?

    No, Marc Bulger doesn't work here anymore.
    There was a reason Bulger stopped doing that, and Bradford should stop too. There was a game against Indianapolis, Monday night football. I want to say it was 2005. Anyway, Bulger and the Rams were 17-0 up after the first quarter, but Bulger throws an Int in the second quarter, moves to the defender to make a tackle, and gets nailed by Gary Brackett. Bulger injured his shoulder and left the game, Jamie Martin comes in, the Rams lose.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlantaRamFan View Post
    Nick, do you think the offense has the WR's it needs to really open up later in the season? Now I could be completely wrong, but I think we'll see a lot of low YPA games this year. I don't see a deep threat in our WR's and so I imagine we'll see a lot of short passes. Now, hopefully getting Jackson established earlier will help, but I'm not holding my breath.

    That being said Bradford's YPA may have been a bit higher if it weren't for all those dropped passes.
    Hard to say. We've been told by Devaney that these guys are fine and can get the job done, but then they go out and trade for Clayton who instantly becomes this team's #1 receiving target.

    The passing game truly is a team effort, when you think about it. The OL needs to protect the quarterback long enough for the route to develop and for him to make the throw. The quarterback needs to recognize the open route and deliver an accurate pass. The receiver needs to run a precise route to gain separation and make the catch.

    The Rams' receivers have shown the ability to do this, but consistently and more often? I'm not so sure. And Bradford may also not be in a place yet where he's ready or comfortable enough to execute it. There's a difference between preseason and regular season speed. We'll just have to wait and see on this one.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Sam is not afraid to lead," Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "He's not afraid of anything.
    A comment like this from a teammate after just one game is impressive, and telling. So is a comment like this from an opponent:

    "Sam Bradford is going to be a special player," said Larry Fitzgerald

  9. #9
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    There was one pass where Sam hit Clayton on a perfect pass in stride and Clayton drop it. The commentators said he would have taken that too the house if he did not drop it. The Cards where coming all day, I did not like a lot of the routes we ran, but I will say one thing, the kid can make all the throws.

  10. #10
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Hard to say. We've been told by Devaney that these guys are fine and can get the job done, but then they go out and trade for Clayton who instantly becomes this team's #1 receiving target.

    The passing game truly is a team effort, when you think about it. The OL needs to protect the quarterback long enough for the route to develop and for him to make the throw. The quarterback needs to recognize the open route and deliver an accurate pass. The receiver needs to run a precise route to gain separation and make the catch.

    The Rams' receivers have shown the ability to do this, but consistently and more often? I'm not so sure. And Bradford may also not be in a place yet where he's ready or comfortable enough to execute it. There's a difference between preseason and regular season speed. We'll just have to wait and see on this one.
    Agreed that we have to wait and see. Montana's per attempt was 4.2 FOR THE YEAR in his first season. McNabb's was 4.4. They both jumped up into the 6-8 range & stayed there for their careers. I'm sure there were a lot of factors involved.

    I think , in The Rams' case, I'd like to see some better games from the OL in pass pro and runblocking before laying it all at the WR corps' feet. For instance , Robinson was wide open-no one in the corner in front of him when Amendola caught that ball right on the TD line. Bradford missed by a mile on a couple of other big pass attempts so who knows whether the WR involved would have caught the ball. And he was under pressure a lot so there wasn't much time to let deep plays develop.

    I'd like to have seen more of that rollout to the left on the very first play that gained 30+ yds alone & the like to help relieve that pressure & allow some TE & RB routes instead of bogging them down in pass pro as well as the deep WR stuff. I don't think Shurmur expected the run game to bog down as much as it did but as the group gels one would hope that he'll be able to adapt a little more creatively on days when it does.

    That's what The Cards did,imo, (insert pic of Azul beating deceased equine) when they ran 76 yds on consecutive plays to the EZ. I still wouldn't trade a bevy of stud WRs and a limited ceiling QB for our situation,though.

  11. #11
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    I don't think Avery makes much of a difference. Yeah, we may not have a deep threat as good as him but when was the last time Avery put up a 100 yard game? He has inconsistent hands. I honestly prefer having Clayton out there rather than Avery.
    thats why i mentioned him in this thread due to us not having as good a deep threat without him..last time Avery had 100 yard game..not exactly sure as it`s not a stat i usually follow..but last time i recall was something like at New England, 134 yards and 2 TD`s, is the last one for sure but may very well have been some more times since then.
    to counter that tho..when was the last time Avery was thrown to on predominantly short plays 13 or 14 times a game when the number 1 CB wasn`t covering him but a back up (Greg Toler) who has hardly played a game in the NFL,infact i think that may have been his first start,and has had a fresh and willing to flat out play QB, to throw him the ball?
    Avery has had battered Bulger,Boller and Null trying to throw behind a teabag O-line.



    Avery is better than Clayton IMHO..tho clearly you don`t feel that way..but that`s ok... i don`t mind being the only one who is right..

    tho seriously..

    Avery has scored 8 TDs in 31 games for us..considering the circumstances he`s been thrown into...although it was nice to see Clayton come in on debut, less than a week since signing and have a decent few catches.
    his 12 TD`s in 67 career games suggest that not only is Avery a better deep threat,he`s also got a better TD`s per game ratio..whilst playing with lesser talent in the guys who they both have relied upon on to give the ball..every body knows how woeful the O-line & Bulger/Boller/Null combos have played the last couple of seasons

    Clayton has blown hot and cold throughout his career,just like Donnie has to date and whilst i appreciate him coming here and getting stuck in straight away..lets wait more than one week before we build up too high hopes for him...he`ll more than likely have a lot poorer looking stats in the future when he`s covered by someone better than Greg Toler.

    Avery is done for the year,so like i said in an earlier post ,Gilyard can hopefully step up to contribute as the season rolls by and help spread the D across the field ,as if we don`t other teams are just gonna overcrowd the LOS and short yardage area wether we run or pass ..even if Mardy or whoever arent making the big plays from the designed deep balls,to have atleast somebody to get back there from time to time ,so the D have got to account for him wether he`s the target or not will help atleast relax that stranglehold grip they will try to apply on us.

  12. #12
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Two points from having been there in person:

    1. That second interception was not Sam's fault. It was fourth down, he had a decent pocket, but NOBODY was open (we were sitting in the end zone where he was throwing). As the pocket started to close, he did what he had to and took a chance.

    2. TekeRam and I saw him leave the stadium. He looked unhappy. That's good. I don't want our QB smiling after a close loss. I want him itching to get back on the field to win the next one.

  13. #13
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    Re: Bradford shows he won't back down

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    1. That second interception was not Sam's fault. It was fourth down, he had a decent pocket, but NOBODY was open (we were sitting in the end zone where he was throwing). As the pocket started to close, he did what he had to and took a chance.
    I don't think he should be taken to the woodshed or anything for it, but I don't think you can completely absolve him either. That's a really tough situation, and he's trying to make a play for his team. I get that, and I get that it's complicated by no one being open. But if you're going to make a throw there, you've at least got to make one that gives your target some kind of chance to make a play on the ball. Sam's ball placement was almost such that only the defender had a chance to make a play on it, and it makes me wonder if he even saw Rhodes.
    Last edited by Nick; -09-13-2010 at 11:00 PM.
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