The St. Louis Rams' coaching staff's affection for quarterback Sam Bradford has never been any secret, not since Jeff Fisher pointed to the former Rookie of the Year as a deciding factor in his job selection. Offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer elaborated on what makes Bradford special following yesterday's minicamp. One factor Scotty pointed to that stood out was Bradford's height.
"I think the one thing I realized is how important size is," Schottenheimer said of his early work with Bradford. "He's so tall. Being around some of the guys I've had in the last couple of years, you are dealing with guys that are 6-foot-2, 6-foot-1 and being 6'4 ½, 6'5; I forgot how well you see things. He just sees the field really, really well.
"Obviously, the accuracy, his ability to play compact in the pocket. I could go on and on, but the first thing that jumped out at me was ‘Wow, how do you see that?' Because when you've got all the big linemen up there and you've got games and stuff inside where people are trying to push in your face, it helps to be able to have that height to be able to see down the field."
Hopefully, Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti have a plan for helping Bradford use that height to his advantage because batted down passes at the line of scrimmage have been an all too familiar site for the Rams prodigal arm.
In 2010, Bradford had 17 passes deflected or batted down, according to Pro Football Focus, 2.8 percent of all attempts. That number was the highest of any quarterback in the league. In 2011, Bradford had 10 passes batted or deflected, 2.7 percent of all his passing attempts. To put last year's number in context, 11 quarterbacks had more passes batted down last year, but all of them except for one played more snaps than Bradford.
Mark Sanchez, Schottenheimer's former quarterback in New York, had 15 passes batted down last season and 15 the year before. Sanchez is two inches shorter than Bradford.
Batted passes aren't necessarily the end of the world. Bradford was asked to throw more often than other quarterbacks, especially as a rookie, and was often doing so under pressure. The timing of those passes and the potential results are the problem, as Ndamukong Suh reminded the Rams when he picked off Bradford on a tipped pass in that fateful 2010 blowout against the Lions in 2010, see the video below.
Earlier this week Bradford talked about his work with Schottenheimer and Cignetti, pointing out the special daily attention his coaches were giving the fundamentals. Using his height and fixing the tipped ball problem ought to be on that list as well.