EARTH CITY, MO - JULY 31: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes during training camp at the Russell Training Center on July 31, 2011 in Earth City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Last year, Sam Bradford had kind of an "aw shucks" vibe in the media. The St. Louis Rams first-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft looked like a starstruck rookie, not that it prevented him from showcasing his talents on the way to a Rookie of the Year win. By all accounts he was still a leader in the locker room, rookie or not, but young QBs are an investment and there's a process of growing that investment before exposing them to all of the harsh realities of life in the NFL. That was last year.
This year, Sam Bradford sounds like a different man, more forceful, edgier with a honed killer instinct. In essence, Bradford is much more of a veteran, if you'll excuse me for stating the obvious. In a recent interview, recapped by SI's Don Banks, Bradford dispensed with the wide-eyed kid from Oklahoma routine. The tone he struck ought to please Rams fans.
It really bugs me when people tell me, 'Oh, man, you guys had such a great season.' I mean, no, we didn't...Seven-and-nine is not what we were shooting for at all. If we went out and did that again this year, I would be extremely mad. And I would expect and hope my teammates feel the same way. A 7-9 record should never be satisfying for anyone. Because if you set your sights on 7-9, you have no shot to do anything better than 7-9. You set your sights on winning the Super Bowl.
Read the whole thing, and it's clear Bradford will have a commanding presence on the team this year. Sure, he was an important guy last year, but rookies, no matter their draft status, just don't carry the weight the veteran guys do.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' much talked about offense truly makes Bradford the centerpiece. That change is probably more important than any new route tree. The Banks piece reveals that center Jason Brown made most of the protection calls at the line and spotting the defensive alignments for the Rams' plays. (That fact alone probably deserves its own post).
Not anymore. It's all Bradford. Bradford's making the calls in this offense, which puts the emphasis on the passer.
And I know the problems that I can fix with my calls. Whereas if I was letting someone else make the calls, I really don't know all of that. If I'm making the calls I know everything.
Thinking back to how much more successful the Rams' offense was in the no huddle and hurry up versions, this should be a big improvement this year. The savvier Bradford can focus on the targets he's aware of and use versatile offensive chips like Steven Jackson or rookie Lance Kendricks.
Make no mistake, this is Sam Bradford's team now.
As a musical side note, why did I keep hearing Bob Seger signing "Turn the Page" while I wrote this? I hate Bob Seger. I guess it at least fits thematically.