The Bradford Watch

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 2: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL preseason game at the Edward Jones Dome on September 2 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Even at 0-2, there is always a silver lining.  It just sometimes takes a metal detector and a magnifying glass to find it in the pile of rubbish. With each week, I feel more and more confident that Bradford will develop into a franchise quarterback.  He has very few weapons on offense, his team seems to have caught the injury bug, and his offensive line is inconsistent.  At the same time, he seems to be gaining confidence in his throws and utilizing more of his enormous talent in the face of pressure.

We are heading into Week 3 and the season has barely begun, but it's never too early to start analyzing our performance.  Ignoring all the banter about statistics not reflecting the nature of the game or the performance of the player (I agree with those of you arguing that Bradford was very close to only one interception in Week 1), let's look at Bradford's statistics through his first two games:

Week 1 : 30/55, 253 yards, 1TD, 3INT, 53.1 passer rating, 2 sacks

Week 2: 14/25, 167 yards, 2TD, 1INT, 86.6 passer rating, 3 sacks

Extrapolating his current statistical output out to a full season, Bradford theoretically would finish the season with 3,360 yards, 24TD, 32INT, a 57.5 passer rating, and a total of 40 sacks.

Now let's put this in context and establish what it really means in comparison to his current and recent competition:

  1. The sack totals place him in the top 10 most sacked QBs this season.  
  2. Bradford is currently 18th in the league in passing yards.  
  3. While he is currently tied for 10th in TD passes, Bradford is tied for the 2nd most INTs in the league right now, with only Joe Flacco (5) throwing more picks.
  4. While ranked 25th in passer rating, here is nonetheless a short list of notable quarterbacks Bradford is currently ahead of in the rankings: Brett Favre, Joe Flacco, Matt Moore, Matt Cassel, Jake Delhomme, Trent Edwards, Jason Campbell.

Yet it is rather unfair to compare a rookie Sam Bradford, with a void of talent surrounding him (except for Steven Jackson) on offense, to quarterbacks such like Tom Brady, throwing balls to a talented pass-catching corp including Randy Moss and Wes Welker.  Instead let's compare him to heralded quarterbacks snatched up by the worst team in the league relative to their competition: other quarterbacks drafted #1 overall.

After projecting his current production to a full season, among the 19 quarterbacks drafted #1 overall in the past 40 years Bradford would be:

  1. The 3rd most sacked quarterback, only behind David Carr (sacked an astonishing 76 times) and Tim Couch (56).
  2. Ranked 11th in passer rating, ahead of passers such as Eli Manning, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Alex Smith, and Jamarcus Russell while behind David Carr, Tim Couch, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, and Jeff George.
  3. The most intercepted quarterback.
  4. Behind only one other quarterback in TD passes: Peyton Manning.

It is likely that the volume of passing opportunities Bradford received in Week 1 will be an outlier in his 2010 season, thus adding to the absurdity of using such a small sample size to analyze Bradford's performance.  Additionally, it must be noted that the only quarterbacks in this group to start all 16 games were David Carr and Peyton Manning.  Tim Couch (14) was close and Jim Plunkett (14)  played in a time of a 14-game season, but it is an exclusive group drafted #1 overall and starting 16 games.

The cause of Bradford's statistical output may have nothing to do with his abilities and may more appropriately be attributed to line play, receiver talent (or lack thereof), game planning, adjustments to the running game, etc.  Furthermore, this small sample of play is not a good basis for judging Bradford's development.  What I mean by that is: it really means nothing at this point in the season.  Nonetheless, some food for thought.

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