What if I told you that a quarterback selected as the number 1 overall selection had a completion percentage of 60% in his first season, had an injury riddled second season, and has returned back to a completion percentage clip of 59.8% in his third season? What if I said that during his career, his yards per attempt has gone up from 6.0 to 7.3 and his yard per completion has gone up from 9.9 to 12.2? And finally, what if I mentioned that he has 2 fourth-quarter comebacks or game-winning drives in his career to this point (33 games total)?
The answer to all those "what ifs" is obvious. It's Sam Bradford.
Now what if I told you that another quarterback selected as the number 1 overall selection had a completion percentage of 48.2% in his first season, improved in his second season to 52.8, and in his third season brought that percentage up to 57.7%? What if i said in those first three seasons, his yards per attempt had gone up from 5.3 to 6.2 yards per attempt and his yard per completion went from 11.0 to 12.8 to 10.8? And finally, what if I mentioned he had 5 fourth-quarter comebacks or game-winning drives in his career to that point (41 games total)?
The answer to this set of "what ifs" is less obvious. It's Eli Manning.
Manning's career is an exercise in patience. Equipped with better receivers, overall better weapons and a better defense, his record is obviously skewed. Early on in his career, many wondered if he was merely just a game manager. In his fourth season, Manning won the Superbowl in a season in which he threw for a 56% completion rate, threw 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, and a QB rating of 73.9. It wasn't until his sixth season in the NFL that he threw for 4000+ yards. It wasn't until his seventh season that he surpassed 30 touchdowns. He did not have more than 12 yards per completion until his sixth season. His QB rating didn't surpass 80 until his fifth season.
Manning has been cited again and again as "the best fourth quarter quarterback" in the NFL. This is his 9th season in the league. He has 27 fourth-quarter comebacks or game-winning drives, including the postseason. After his first three seasons, he had 22 of them.
I bring about this comparison to ask one thing of you fellow Rams fans:
Can Sam Bradford not be afforded the same patience Eli received? Because he sure seems to have paid them back for their patience, even if it took him 5+ years to become the quarterback they thought they were drafting.