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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Bradford's long, difficult journey begins

    Bradford's long, difficult journey begins
    JEFF GORDON | Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2010 4:00 pm

    The Rams are paying Sam Bradford a fortune to become the Face of the Franchise. The NFL’s first overall pick offers a beacon of hope for frustrated fans.

    The team drafted him to become the catalyst for change, the Human Turning Point for an operation that lost its way.

    But here’s the problem: the Rams offense has miles to go – despite that mind-boggling investment (up to $86 million!) at quarterback.

    That was evident Sunday morning. Fans who ventured out to Rams Park watched the defense manhandle the offense during training camp drills.

    Rams defenders blew up the run again and again. They sat on the short pass patterns that remain the bread and butter of this ball-control scheme.

    They forced Bradford and his fellow quarterbacks to check down to their running backs again and again.

    “You know, I think that’s typical this time of year,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said after the session. “Offense is so much timing and getting the ball out. It’s really the first time the quarterback gets anybody pushed in front of him. Same thing with the run blocks. That stuff will even itself out, but for the defensive side, I was happy to see that.”

    Still, this scene was distressingly familiar for fans that endured last season’s 1-15 fiasco. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and his staff face an enormous challenge.

    There are no magic wands in this league. Bradford’s arrival offers a starting point and no more.

    Let’s put it this way: Aside from Bradford, running back Steven Jackson and perhaps rookie wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, how many skill position Rams would interest other teams?

    Their most polished receiver, Laurent Robinson, has just 55 career receptions. He runs crisp routes but can’t stay healthy.

    Speedy Donnie Avery has 100 catches in two seasons, but he looks more like a No. 3 receiver than a true No. 1. The obscure supporting cast behind these two includes Keenan Burton, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, Brooks Foster and Jordan Kent.

    “A tremendous amount of competition. I’m enjoying watching it,” Spagnuolo said. “There’s a lot of quality guys there. Somebody will step forward. We’re not going to tag them a one, two, and three. We’re just going to have five, six, whatever we keep, wideouts that are going to help us win.”

    Jackson’s back-ups include journeyman Kenneth Darby and fringe prospects Chris Ogbonnaya and Keith Toston. No NFL team has less depth at this critical position.

    The Rams’ go-to tight end is Daniel Fells, who has 28 catches in two NFL seasons. Perhaps their most talented tight end, Fendi Onobun, is a former college basketball player.

    And then there is the offensive line, which could feature inexperienced tackles on both sides – injury-prone Jason Smith and rookie Rodger Saffold.

    Add it all up and Bradford faces a daunting challenge. That he is getting paid All-Pro dollars only adds to the challenge. That massive contract creates massive expectations.

    Rookie Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez broke in on a playoff team with a great ground game, an imposing offensive line and a shutdown defense.

    Rookie Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford broke in with one of the NFL’s most talented receivers, Calvin Johnson.

    Both still took a physical beating. Both still struggled. Both threw more interceptions (40 combined) than touchdown passes (25 combined).

    So what should we expect Bradford to do? Fans want to see him start in Week 1, but what’s the rush? Shouldn’t the Rams build a strong offense before asking Bradford to run it?

    Developing a viable attack will take time. Developing this quarterback will take even longer.

    The process has started, but it is a long, long, LOOOOOONG process. Let’s hope the Rams give Bradford an opportunity to grow.

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
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  2. #2
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    Re: Bradford's long, difficult journey begins

    "Speedy Donnie Avery has 100 catches in two seasons, but he looks more like a No. 3 receiver than a true No. 1. "

    I really hope Avery comes through this year I think the clocking is starting to tick.
    :ramlogo:

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Bradford's long, difficult journey begins

    This is the infamous Year Three for Avery, where young wide receivers are supposed to break out. Hopefully it happens. I'm rooting for the guy and have been since the Rams drafted him, but he just hasn't had the consistency yet to be a reliable weapon at that #1 level.
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
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  4. #4
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    Re: Bradford's long, difficult journey begins

    Well I'm glad after 1 year we can finally label Jason Smith as injury prone.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bradford's long, difficult journey begins

    The media labels anyone that has been removed from the field for a lengthy injury as injury prone it seems. We also seem to be approaching the point where every article sounds the same for the first 50% or more, telling us what we already know, or just telling us the Rams suck.

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