Should The St. Louis Rams Bench Sam Bradford?

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 20: St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford #8 runs the ball in the second half of the game November 20, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

I'm not an Xs and Os guy, not at the level you see elsewhere around the internets. You certainly don't need decades of coaching experience to see that Sam Bradford is struggling for the St. Louis Rams. After a prodigious start to his pro career, Bradford's second-year slump should have fans, experts and the legions of amateur personnel men with a blog troubled, very troubled. 

You can point to any number of reasons for Bradford's troubles lately. Protection issues, surrounding talent, learning a new offense, all of things have contributed to the incumbent Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Rams offense averaging just 9.9 points per game when he starts. 

Visibly upset, Bradford promised to continue working, searching for answers to the Rams' myriad of offensive problems speaking to the press after yesterday's eighth loss of the season. Like his head coach, the quarterback's message was essentially the same this week as it is every week. Rolling through hours of tape, turning hundreds of pages in the playbook, Bradford and company scour the texts for answers, but when game time rolls around any evidence of that work is invisible. 

For the life of me, I can't understand why the Rams went with such a simpler game plan in two games with A.J. Feeley at the helm, but refuse to do the same with Bradford struggling so precipitously. This week, rather than run the offense through Steven Jackson, they coaches forced a spread offense into the game plans, an offense that required even more of the struggling Bradford and his woeful collection of pass catchers, save for Brandon Lloyd

It might be time to think about sitting Bradford, letting him get more work in practice and study than putting him at risk for further injury in the Rams eighth consecutive meaningless season. Bradford was sacked five times this week. He's been sacked 26 times this season in just eight games. Only Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked more than Bradford. 

This morning on ESPN 101, former Rams QB Gus Frerotte noted the difference in Bradford when he gets hit on the field. It's almost like there's script for the Rams offense, and Bradford reels at the thought of living through another chapter of that. It's hard not to blame him.

Rams fans know well the price a team and a quarterback pays when they get hit again and again. It's fair to ask how much more of this Bradford can take and, more importantly, what are the potential long-term costs of sending him out there behind an offensive line that has impossibly managed to get worse. 

Of course, a team can't bench a quarterback just because he's getting hit and has a $78 million contract. This is football; players have to be able to take hits. They can, and sometimes do, bench struggling players. Bradford is clearly lost right now. More than just keeping him upright, sitting him in place of Feeley would give him some time to regroup, clear his head a little and work on the things he's obviously struggling with right now. 

As the Rams search some more for answers, it's something to consider. 

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