Over the last few days here at TST, a topic that has brought a lot of controversy is the play of the quarterbacks, particularly Sam Bradford. He didn't play well Sunday, but he was coming off an injury mind you. This season the Rams offense has been horrible and the discussion about how much Sam Bradford is too blame on this is a huge debate. Here's a nice fan post from RG31 giving his view about how he thinks Bradford is being used as a scapegoat.
Here's an article from Bernie Miklasz from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He isn't over critical of Sam, but he does bring up the point of Sam's horrible numbers on downfield throw and how he is a large part of the blame for that. In this post, I will not only grade Sam's (and Feeley's) performance, but I will try to assess how much it is Sam's fault vs. the supporting cast around him.
Sam Bradford's Stats
|Games Played||Comp||Att||Yds||YPA||TD||INT||Lost Fum||Passer Rating||QBR (from ESPN)|
|6||127||232||1432||6.2||3||3||4||72.3||29.5 (50.0 being average 100 max)|
First, the most shocking thing has to be the lack of TDs. Over a 16 game season, at that pace, he would throw only 8 TDs. Shockingly low, but how many TDs have been dropped this year? His passing yardage number is actually very good. Over a full season, he would get about 3,820 yards; a very nice total. Sam has kept his INT total down, but he has been prone to fumble to ball this year. He is averaging more than one turnover per game. That's not exactly horrible though. Most NFL QBs will average just over one turnover per game over a season.
Now has he regressed this year as many on TST have been saying? Actually when you compare this years stats to his rookie seasons, there actually isn't much difference. His passer rating is 4 points lower this year, but his yards per game is up. His completion percentage is at 54.7% (at 60% last season), but how much higher would that be if it wasn't for all the drops? Overall, he hasn't actually really regressed much. He was expected to improve on his rookie year, but he still is playing at the same level he did last season. Now I'm not saying that he is playing good, or even at an acceptable level, but there are other factors that lead to his sup par play.
1. New Offense- People underestimated how much installing a new offense in a lockout shortened offseason would hurt Sam. The offense is still yet to get in sync. The Josh McDaniels offense is way more complex than the west coast the Rams had last season and it just takes a lot of time and effort to install. The shortened offseason hasn't allowed the Rams the proper time to fully get used to the new offense.
2. Pass Protection- This year Sam has been sacked 24 times in 6 games, after only being sacked 34 times in 16 games as a rookie. Sam is partly to blame for this issue. He holds on to the ball too long at times and he struggles with pocket presence. Furthermore, the offensive line, especially the OTs have done a poor job in pass protection. Rodger Saffold is having a huge regress this year; what one would call the sophomore slump. Jason Smith on the other hand, has just proven that he doesn't have NFL pass blocking skills. He consistently gets beat. He is a good run blocker though, and I hope the Rams will try him at guard instead of just giving up on him.
Lastly, another factor that has lead to this dramatic sack increase, is that Sam is responsible for calling the line checks this year instead of Jason Brown. Sam at times struggles to identity blitzes and also just makes the wrong checks at times. This is to be expected though. This is the first season he is doing it in the NFL. He isn't supposed to be a master of it yet. Some have been calling for the responsibility of line checks to go back to Brown, but I believe that the Rams must allow Sam to keep it. The only way he is going to learn how to do it, is by doing. I say let him take his lumps and he will eventually be better for it.
3. Drops- Drops have killed this offense this season. So many perfectly thrown passes have just been dropped. It's hard to stay in an offensive rhythm with drops. Every WR and TE has contributed to this epidemic.
Overall, I would grade Sam's season at a C-. He hasn't played as well as he should have, but there are a lot of outside factors that have hurt his play. I'm not saying that he isn't to blame though, he is. He hasn't made the throw he should make consistently and he has struggled with the blitz this season. Let's not forget that he is a young QB in his second season. I still maintain faith that Sam will be a great QB for the Rams.
As for AJ Feeley, I won't go into much breakdown. I would grade him at a B+. He came in and filled in decently for 2 games, winning one against the Saints!. He didn't do great, but he managed the game well and gave his team a chance to win. That's exactly what his job is to do.