The number 13 is unlucky, well that's what they told many of us as we were growing up (we can't discuss who they are, they could be watching). It's a good thing that the St. Louis Rams don't believe in luck, beating the San Francisco 49ers 16-13 (guess 13 was unlucky for them) last week.
I know I wasn't the only person who watched the game Sunday and said, "man, Bradford had a solid game, but he could have done better." Look at Bradford's stats, 26-39, and 221 yards, those don't look spectacular.
I figured Sam must have thrown bad passes, the wide receivers didn't get open, and the offensive line allowed pressure to Bradford. Oh, and there was the fact that he was playing without his favorite target Danny Amendola.
That's why breaking down the incompletions was important to me, we wouldn't have to guess what the problem was; the film would tell the truth. So grab a seat, pour a drink (preferably water), and let's find out the truth.
Writers note: I tried to go into as much detail as I could considering, I'm trying to fit 13 plays. Most of the time, I'll leave out what the opposite side of play is doing, so if Brandon Gibson is doing jumping jacks before a play to the left of Bradford, and Chris Givens is getting thrown the ball running a curl to the right, Gibson's name might not be mentioned (yes that actually did happen, well kinda, okay, not really).
1st quarter 15:00 at the Rams 20
It's a 3 WR set, Sam Bradford is directly under center. Sam notices that the cornerback is playing 10 yards off of Chris Givens who is to the right of the formation. In the trenches Ahmad Brooks lines up to blitz. Sam takes two steps and quickly throws a bullet towards that direction. Ahmad Brooks drops back into coverage under Givens, and drops the interception.
1st quarter 9:42 3rd-and-5 at the Rams 10.
Bradford is under center. There are four wide receivers with Steven Jackson in the backfield. Givens goes in motion. Sam looks for an open target, but feels pressure ( he had time to stand tall in the pocket) and rolls out to the right where he is rushed by the defense and throws the ball away.
Honestly this was great coverage by the defense, aided by a happy footed Bradford.
The players on the right of the field ran deep routes; they were decoys, honestly. Austin Pettis and Chris Givens were supposed to beat their man coverage and get open in the middle of the field on slants. Bradford could have hit Pettis (slot receiver), but that's when he felt the pressure. If he would have thrown the ball to the flats on the right side of the field Jackson might have gotten the first down, but the linebacker rolled over and covered him.
1st quarter, 1:36, 3rd-and-1, ball at the Rams 28
This time Sam is in shotgun with Jackson next to him.At the snap Jackson runs to the flats, Lance Kendricks playing tight end also runs to the flats, both flats were covered.
Gibson is by himself running a stop and go. Austin Pettis is in the slot and tun past the 40 on a curl route. Chris Givens runs a go route and that's who Sam is forced to throw to, but the coverage was perfect
2nd quarter 35 seconds left in the half, at the opponents 39
Sam is in shotgun. He has pressure in his face, but he delivers a catchable ball to Steve Smith which is dropped.
3rd quarter 10:36, 2nd-and-8 at the opponents 38
Sam is in shotgun with Pead next to him. Pead is sent in motion and when he stops he becomes the outside wide receiver. Pead is one on one with the corner. Pead and the corner are stride for stride, but near the end of the route Pead gets ahead of the corner, but Pead is overthrown.
3rd quarter, 6:51, 4th-and-1 at the opponents 5
Sam is under center. Gibson and Pettis are on the right side of the formation. Gibson is the outside receiver, with Pettis being the slot guy. Givens is on the far left alone. Pead goes in motion towards Gibson and Pettis.
As soon as the play starts Pead is open in the flats, it looks like Sam spots him also, but he hesitates to throw the pass. The defense then adjusts to cover Pead, and there goes Sam's chance to get the first down.
That's okay, because Bradford gets another chance, but he doesn't notice it. As Pettis is fading towards the back of the end zone taking two defenders with him, Gibson is wide open for a touchdown. But he get's open right when Sam throws the ball in Pettis direction.
Updated: After getting into an argument with Tim Shields, from Ramsherd, I decided to include their write up on this play. The funny thing is we argued for no reason, since everything he said I already wrote, except for the DE covering Pead when the ball is snapped, and a linebacker covering Gibson, who I thought and still thought was too far away to make a play when he first got open. (not having sleep, will do that to you).
4th quarter, 1st-and-10 at the Rams 43
Sam is under center with all 3 of his receivers to the left. Kendricks is the right TE. The Rams have their receivers draw attention away from the left side of the field. Kendricks runs a drag route to the left, but drops a pass.
4th quarter, 4:54, 3rd-and-4, at the 50 yard line
Sam is under center with 3 receivers on the field. This is a quick bang-bang play. Sam takes three steps back and expects Quick to be on a slant route, he does, but he also "drops" the ball. Honestly it looked like a catch, but it wasn't challenged
4th quarter, 1:34, 1st-and-10 at the Rams 20
Three receivers to Sam's right.. Kendricks is lined up on in the inside. Pettis is the slot guy, and Givens is the outside receiver. Givens runs a streak, Pettis runs a 4 yard out route, and Kendricks runs a 10 yard out route, on NaVorro Bowman, Kendricks beats Bowman and Sam throws it to him right as he makes the cut, then Kendricks dropped the ball.
4th Q, 54s, 1st-and-15, at the opponent's 4.
Bradford is in shotgun. Mike Mcneill is the right tight end, and he runs a deep in route. Pettis is in the slot and Givens is on the outside, both run in routes. Pettis get's open, but Dashon Goldson comes crashing down on Pettis and forces him to drop the ball, what should have been a routine catch.
Overtime, 12:13, 3rd-and-15
Sam is in the shotgun with Jackson to his left. Three receivers on the field, and Mike is the left TE, he is motioned to the right, with two other WR's. The Rams run a screen to Jackson to the left, with Brandon Gibson and two blockers, but Jackson drops the ball.
Overtime, 9:05, 1st-and-10, Rams at 21
Sam is under center. Kendricks at full back. Gibson and Givens are lined up to the left. Gibson motions from the left outside receiver to the right side, he ends up behind Barry Richardson and the tight end. Runs basically a 10 yard curl route, while Givens runs a deep post, but is double covered and Bradford is forced to throw the ball out of bounds.
After writing until my fingers cramped, and taking five naps, I can say that Bradford had a good game. He really only had 12 incompletions, because he spiked the ball before half time. The receivers dropped five passes that were thrown pretty well.
The remaining seven throws could go either way. I would say that three of those plays he could have found a way to complete the pass, but on the other four would have been tough to find a open receiver. Only one pass touched a defender. All-in-all this was a pretty good game by Sam and the offense.
Sam had a chance to throw two touchdowns. One was the deep play to Isaiah Pead, which would have been a great play, but it was well defended. The 4th down play in the red zone should have been a 1st down or resulted in points, it would be nice if Sam could make those plays.
I don't know if Bradford will ever be elite, but judging from this game, the Rams could do a lot worst at the quarterback position.