The discussion of whether or not the St. Louis Rams will start QB Sam Bradford in week 1 has been a hot topic again lately, with the Miklasz column today and the post at Rams Herd yesterday. Should the Rams take a cautious approach with their young players, even if it means keeping them on the bench until further into the season? It's all about how ready the players are in the eyes of the coaches.
Readiness is an arbitrary notion, determined by the coaches. Ready or not, the Rams offense was so bad last year that Bradford and the 10 other guys on the field with him don't have to go up very far to offer a better product. They may not be "ready" but they could very well be better.
Let's go back to the first three games of last season, which your brain should have purged from you memory in order to maintain any sanity, and take a look at the QB performance and the offense as a unit.
Starting with the offense, let's look at their DVOA, points scored, total yards, rush yards, passing yards, receiving TD, INT and sacks allowed for the first three games:
Week 1 @ SEA: -60%, 0, 247, 77, 170, 0 TD, 0 INT, 3 sacks
Week 2 @ WAS: -9%, 7, 245, 119, 126, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack
Week 3 vs GB: 9%, 17, 336, 187, 149, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 sack
First of all, I'm shocked at how "good" the Rams offense was in that Green Bay game. That was their second best single game DVOA in 2009. I'm also impressed at the lack of interceptions. Bulger left with an injury in the first quarter, after completing three of four passes. It was also the game where the Rams lost WR Laurent Robinson.
They averaged 148.3 passing yards per game, hardly anything to be impressed with. Looking at the rushing yards, you can see just how important Steven Jackson was to their game plan. Let's look at the QB performance.
Marc Bulger: 17/32, 47.2 percent, 63.5 QB rating
Marc Bulger: 15/28, 53.6 percent, 77.2 QB rating
Marc Bulger: 3/4, 75 percent, 88.5 QB rating
Kyle Boller: 16/31. 51.6 percent, 1 INT, 75.2 QB rating (this was easily Boller's best game of the season)
Obviously, the worst was yet to come for the Rams QBs. There will be a number of factors that determine the success Bradford experiences on the field in those first three weeks, if he's on the field at that time. And obviously, the receivers and the offensive line and the rest of the characters around him will have something to say about his success. All that aside, can he top the 53.7 percent completion percentage the Rams QBs had over that three game stretch? Can he limit himself to 1 INT? How many TDs can he throw? And, finally, can earn a QB rating of 71.9 or higher?
All things being equal around him, I'd have to think his vaunted accuracy and nose for the game could make for a better QB performance. Even if he's not there in the first three weeks, he should top the woeful totals the Rams QBs had last season.