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Thread: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

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    Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford
    by Greg Cosell

    The last couple of weeks, I have written about Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton. This week, I will continue to spotlight the quarterback position, focusing on two young players who detoured in 2011 after strong seasons in 2010. Sam Bradford set an NFL record for most completions by a rookie quarterback (the previous mark was held by Peyton Manning). Josh Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in his first full season as a starter. Both Bradford and Freeman had the look of soon-to-be-elite NFL quarterbacks. It did not work out that way last season.

    Bradford came out of Oklahoma as the leagueís No. 1 overall pick. He was a polished passer in many areas: ball position on his drop, both from under center and in the shotgun; balance, with his feet quick yet unhurried; a strong plant with his back foot; excellent weight transfer as he delivered the ball; compact throwing motion, tight with powerful arm speed; and then most important of all attributes, precise and consistent in his ball location. What I really liked about Bradford was his ability to sit in the pocket on his back foot, then drive through his throws and deliver with velocity and accuracy. There was no question he was a top arm talent.

    Sam Bradford (AP)

    As a rookie in 2010, Bradford exhibited many of these traits, plus a few others that were compelling indicators of NFL success. He was decisive in reading the blitz and getting the ball out quickly to the right receiver. He was firm in the pocket, willing to look down the gun barrel and make strong throws in the face of pressure. He had a refined sense of timing and anticipation, showing the ability to pull the trigger before his receivers came out of their breaks. All positives, and all quantifiable measures of top-level quarterback play in the NFL.

    Bradford threw a red-zone touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson against the Seahawks in just his fourth NFL start that was as impressive as youíll see, for any quarterback. Visualize this: The Seahawks dropped eight defenders into coverage, significantly compressing the passing lanes. Consequently, sight lines were squeezed, but Bradford did two things that were special. First, he manipulated and moved the underneath coverage with his head and eyes, which opened a lane to deliver the ball. Secondly, he threw the ball well before Gibson broke inside, near the back of the end zone. Unbelievable anticipation and accuracy on a tight-window throw in the red zone. It was beautiful.

    But Bradford certainly wasnít perfect in his rookie season. There were two particular areas where significant work was needed. There were times he was not comfortable in the pocket with bodies around him. Thatís a different trait than looking down the gun barrel. When the pocket closes down and functional space is reduced to throw cleanly and comfortably, you must still stay on balance and deliver the ball in the eye of the storm. A game against the Kansas City Chiefs, in particular, brought this to the forefront. In addition, there were instances in which Bradford had opportunities to be more aggressive throwing down the field that he didnít take advantage of. My feeling was heíd pull the trigger on those throws with more experience, but of course, you never know.

    So what happened in 2011? The problems began the opening Sunday. Bradford was tentative in the pocket, not mentally sharp, and at times he did not let it loose when he had a throw. An inconsistent profile had been established. What really stood out as the year progressed was Bradfordís reaction to pressure ó the issue that first surfaced in his rookie season against Kansas City. It is easy to place the blame on the Ramsí poor pass protection, but that circumvents the more essential point. You must be able to function effectively in a muddied and noisy pocket to play quarterback well in the NFL, and Bradford began to perceive pressure that was not there. He was anticipating the rush, and you cannot perform that way, no matter what kind of talent you have throwing the football.

    The November 20 game against the Seahawks crystallized much of Bradfordís 2011 season. His velocity had decreased; he was not driving the ball down the field. Even his 30-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd hung in the air a little too long. His precise ball location, a feature of his game as a rookie, had waned. He missed some throws that were there. He had very little sense of timing with his receivers. He threw some balls too early, and some too late; the passing game was clearly out of synch. I strongly believe the injuries, the revolving door and the overall lack of quality at the wide receiver position was a more legitimate reason for Bradfordís struggles than the offensive line. The inability of Rams wideouts to get open on one-on-one isolation routes ó a must in the NFL ó had an extremely negative impact on Bradford. His game is timing and rhythm, but his uncertainty as to when to deliver the ball is clear on last seasonís tape. He was hoping, rather than playing, and thatís a formula for failure.


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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Bradford better snap out of it quick!

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    I'll tell you what Greg... you go ahead and find a way to experience standing in a pocket that is constantly collapsing with no open receivers, and then get back to me about "legitimate reasons" for a QB's struggles.

    I'm tired of these "film study" guys trying to evaluate players. They always try to come up with an angle that departs from the obvious. Here, the obvious reasons for Bradford's struggles were: (1) poor pass protection, (2) lack of separation by receivers, and (3) dropped passes. While Bradford made errors, it is impossible to separate his failings from the circumstances in which he found himself.

    Need proof of this?

    During the regular season, when he regularly had time to throw and strong performances by receivers, Tom Brady's passer rating was 105.6.

    In the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl, when he faced consistent pressure from the Ravens and Giants and had to deal with an injury to Rob Gronkowski, his passer rating was 75.4.
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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Yes, Bradford did regress in 2011 and here were a myriad of reasons why, some he owns some team owns. I am looking forward to seeing Bradford AND TEAM come out strong in 2012.
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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    One area where Sam needs to improve is protecting the ball. He fumbled 10 times and lost 7.

    My take on this year he will bounce back behind a strong running game and a very conservative offense. He will be protected by the scheme as much as the O line. I read where Fisher wants to go back to his rookie year where Sam was using his legs and his athletic abilities to throw on the run.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    His analysis of Bradford is pretty much on par with what I observed while watching the games.

    I'm not going to make any biased attacks on reporters just because they negatively critique our former No. 1 overall pick. You see the negatives for the negatives, and that is the fastest way to come to a solution.



    Sure Bradford had a pocket that collapsed, and he didn't do well when that happened. However, when the pocket DID give him time, he still was shaky last season. Bradford's performance was more inconsistent than it was consistent, and although you can lay blame to the receivers, the o-line, J. McDaniels, Bradford has his share of problems, and trying to ignore and dodge those facts is delusional.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by RockinRam View Post
    His analysis of Bradford is pretty much on par with what I observed while watching the games.

    I'm not going to make any biased attacks on reporters just because they negatively critique our former No. 1 overall pick. You see the negatives for the negatives, and that is the fastest way to come to a solution.



    Sure Bradford had a pocket that collapsed, and he didn't do well when that happened. However, when the pocket DID give him time, he still was shaky last season. Bradford's performance was more inconsistent than it was consistent, and although you can lay blame to the receivers, the o-line, J. McDaniels, Bradford has his share of problems, and trying to ignore and dodge those facts is delusional.

    Who tried to ignore them? Avenger said its impossible to distinguish Bradford's personal shortcomings from the shortcomings of those around him. Team effort. Also, if your pocket constantly collapses, you'll still be jittery when it doesn't. It's why the abused dog cowers when he just thinks he is going to get hit, even when he isn't. You're just expecting it. Scared QB syndrome can be hard to fix, look at Bulger.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by berg8309 View Post
    Who tried to ignore them? Avenger said its impossible to distinguish Bradford's personal shortcomings from the shortcomings of those around him. Team effort. Also, if your pocket constantly collapses, you'll still be jittery when it doesn't. It's why the abused dog cowers when he just thinks he is going to get hit, even when he isn't. You're just expecting it. Scared QB syndrome can be hard to fix, look at Bulger.
    Enter Jeff Fisher and Shotty and emsemble. I will admit I was excited last year with the acquistion of McDaniels. Foolish me .. I really do expect Sam to get the coaching and support he needs this time around. Sam's confidence will return as he succeeds. Jeff's job is to put Sam in a position to do just that. I believe he can and will.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    I think for much of last season Bradford had zero faith in his receivers to make a play, hence he became more reluctant to take any chances with the ball.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by RockinRam View Post
    His analysis of Bradford is pretty much on par with what I observed while watching the games.

    I'm not going to make any biased attacks on reporters just because they negatively critique our former No. 1 overall pick. You see the negatives for the negatives, and that is the fastest way to come to a solution.



    Sure Bradford had a pocket that collapsed, and he didn't do well when that happened. However, when the pocket DID give him time, he still was shaky last season. Bradford's performance was more inconsistent than it was consistent, and although you can lay blame to the receivers, the o-line, J. McDaniels, Bradford has his share of problems, and trying to ignore and dodge those facts is delusional.
    I totally agree Rockin Ram. Bradford was the perfect definition of a "deer in the headlights" last season. His pocket presence is the one aspect of his game, that worries me the most. People can blame the line and receivers all they want. But at some point, Bradford has to stop going down like a house of cards, extend the play, and SCORE a flippin TD. Its not like he is a terrible athlete... ?
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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    I totally agree Rockin Ram. Bradford was the perfect definition of a "deer in the headlights" last season. His pocket presence is the one aspect of his game, that worries me the most. People can blame the line and receivers all they want. But at some point, Bradford has to stop going down like a house of cards, extend the play, and SCORE a flippin TD. Its not like he is a terrible athlete... ?
    No QB would be able to stand and take the kind of abuse Bradford did last year without getting skittish. It's easy to play Monday Morning QB and say "He needs to stand tall and deliver strikes regardless of how many times he gets crushed by 300 pound men running full speed unblocked" and another to stand there and do it. I'm not saying Bradford didn't fail to make plays when he should have last year, but it's a bit disingenuous to say it's up to Bradford to stop getting sacked and make his receivers catch the ball. It's a team effort, and Bradford can't do it alone. If you are going to say "Bradford, stop getting sacked and start scoring TDs" you have to, at the same time, say Oline, give him more time, receivers, get open and actually catch. All three have to work together.

    I just don't like it when people say it's all on Bradford, when it's all on everyone on offense.
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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    The qb is just like the president of the usa. When things go well, he gets too much credit. When things go poorly, he gets too much blame. Football is a team game. You can't ignore the various factors that make a qb successful. Put brady behind our offensive line with our receivers and see how he does. Bart Starr won two super bowls. Does anyone think he was one of the all time great qb's? Did john elway get great later in his career when he won two titles or did he just get better offensive lines around him? Was dan marino a failure because he didnt win a super bowl (as if he was responsible for playing defense?)

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by berg8309 View Post
    No QB would be able to stand and take the kind of abuse Bradford did last year without getting skittish. It's easy to play Monday Morning QB and say "He needs to stand tall and deliver strikes regardless of how many times he gets crushed by 300 pound men running full speed unblocked" and another to stand there and do it. I'm not saying Bradford didn't fail to make plays when he should have last year, but it's a bit disingenuous to say it's up to Bradford to stop getting sacked and make his receivers catch the ball. It's a team effort, and Bradford can't do it alone. If you are going to say "Bradford, stop getting sacked and start scoring TDs" you have to, at the same time, say Oline, give him more time, receivers, get open and actually catch. All three have to work together.

    I just don't like it when people say it's all on Bradford, when it's all on everyone on offense.
    Obviously it's not all on Sam Bradford. But as the QB, and leader of our offense. The biggest responsibility should fall in his lap. Bradford can't expect a clean pocket every play, nor should he expect a receiver running free every down. It doesn't work like that in the NFL, especially in the playoffs. Sam Bradford has to do a much better job ad libbing, when the pocket collapses around him. Steelers QB Big Ben Rothlisberger has proved in the past, its not impossible to make plays, in the face of fierce pressure. So have Brady, Brees, etc, etc.
    Hopefully Sam Bradford should have learned a lot from last year. I expect to see a much calmer, less jittery QB in the face of pressure. The experience of last season can only help improve him.?
    Last edited by GROUND DOG 39; -05-23-2012 at 01:03 PM.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Show me a good QB, and I'll show you good support around him. That's the reality.

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    Re: Cosell Talks: Sam Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    Obviously it's not all on Sam Bradford. But as the QB, and leader of our offense. The biggest responsibility should fall in his lap. Bradford can't expect a clean pocket every play, nor should he expect a receiver running free every down. It doesn't work like that in the NFL, especially in the playoffs. Sam Bradford has to do a much better job ad libbing, when the pocket collapses around him. Steelers QB Big Ben Rothlisberger has proved in the past, its not impossible to make plays, in the face of fierce pressure. So have Brady, Brees, etc, etc.
    Hopefully Sam Bradford should have learned a lot from last year. I expect to see a much calmer, less jittery QB in the face of pressure. The experience of last season can only help improve him.?
    Brady and Brees have had some of the best protection around. When Brady didn't get good protection, in his last two super-bowl losses, he looked average at best. And let's not forget he won three before that, so it's not like he is just a choker. A QB just can't perform at an elite level with unblocked defenders. It just isn't possible.

    As far as big ben goes, yea he moves around a bit an extends the play, but he also takes tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of hits. He has the body to take them, almost no other QB has that body. Bradford, Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers, none of them could take that pounding. Big Ben is well, quite big, he can absorb more blows. Not a good comparison. Not to mention Ben holds on to the ball for a long long time, and his Oline blocks as long as possible. Bradford wouldn't be able to hold on to the ball that long, our Oline couldn't hold off the blockers as long, he'd be hit far faster.

    Also, I didn't see that jittery qb til late in the season. I saw a qb who, despite constant pressure and unopen receivers, kept standing in the pocket and waiting for someone, ANYONE to do something, before taking a sack. He could have just kept checking down, but he didn't. He tried to let plays develop, they never did. You want to talk about leading the offense? That's doing it right there. But to say the majority of it lays on the QB, that's false. It's only true when the rest of the team is making plays and the QB isn't. If you constantly have WRs failing to get open, unblocked defenders, and receivers who drop passes that hit their numbers, the QB can't do anything about that except keep delivering and hoping someone actually does something.

    So let's not try to pile more on Bradford than is realistically his fault. And yes, I saw multiple times where Bradford hit either a stopped receiver, or a guy in stride, in his hands, and the ball hit the turf. Just two of those get caught a game, and you are looking at an entirely different season.

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