GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06: Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams walks out onto the field before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Well, that ought to grab your attention. The question of whether the St. Louis Rams have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford does not get much discussion. Mostly because it doesn't need to. Bradford had a solid debut season in 2010; injuries, a lockout and a new offense torpedoed whatever hopes he and the Rams had for 2011.
Jeff Fisher cited Bradford's presence as a deciding factor in taking the coaching job in St. Louis. The coach has continued to sing the praises of his new quarterback throughout the offseason.
I think that even the Bradford doubters believe he deserves a second chance to put things together. I've yet to hear anyone label him a "bad quarterback" ... until this week.
And who believes Bradford to be a bad quarterback? This post-draft write up from Cold Hard Football Facts.
The offending paragraph:
The Rams fall into that list of teams stuck in a bad place institutionally because they're stuck with a bad quarterback - at least for near future. In the case of the Rams, they're stuck with Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
I'm assuming the "for now" bit is a reference to the Rams' extra 1st-round picks in subsequent drafts. So why exactly do they think Bradford ranks along the lines of Tarvaris Jackson et al? It's the usual criticisms we've heard before.
Yes, he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, more by default than anything else. The reality is that's he's shown very little in his season and a half under center. His dismal effectiveness getting the ball downfield - 6.0 YPA in 2010; 6.1 YPA in 2011 - is a disturbing statistical signature for Rams fans.
The downfield game has been well documented here and elsewhere around the web. Bradford was stuck in Pat Shurmur's system as a rookie which called for the dink and dunk approach, both as an offensive philosophy and a way to ease Bradford into the pros. Those numbers are also highly influenced by the need to get the ball out quick because of poor blocking and a lack of receiving options beyond Danny Amendola.
I won't deny that we're still waiting to see Bradford put things together, though I tend to agree with Fisher's assessment of overlooking the 2011 season. If you'll recall, Bradford was improving until he was injured in the Green Bay game in Week 6 last season.
This will be an important season for Bradford, one in which he has to build on a successful rookie campaign and overcome a tough sophomore season. The fact remains, that Bradford has an elite package of skills, from his accuracy and acumen for the game. Now, he has to make those things translate to the NFL.