With all of the nonsensical chatter going on with the Bradford conversations, I figured I'd share my thoughts of why I would really like to see us with a guy like Teddy Bridgewater, but still support the franchise's inevitable decision to move forward with Bradford for the foreseeable future.
Starting when he was drafted, I wasn't a fan of Bradford. I was hoping that we would take Suh, and was kind of disappointed that we took Sam... However, Sam proved me wrong in his rookie year. Unfortunately, being in my freshman year of college in Chiefs territory, I didn't get to watch very many of the games. But his play spoke for itself.
2011 was a forgettable season, so much so that I'll pretend that it didn't exist :).
2012 was the year that has given me hope for this franchise for the foreseeable future. To prepare for writing this up, I went back and watched the team's 2012 highlights, and what a fun video that was to watch. I remember watching a hungry team go to war almost every week of the season.
In 2012, I loved watching Sam Bradford play. He had some gritty performances, and did a lot with the few weapons he had. Although our offense wasn't dynamic, we had an identity and played to our strengths. That identity was a power running game with SJ39 combined with the explosiveness of DRich, a reliable safety-net in Danny Amendola, a big-play extraordinaire in Chris Givens, and a late season emerging red zone threat in Austin Pettis. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but with our strong defense, it kept us in most games.
The first portion of the 2013 exposed a lot of our weaknesses, including Sam's. Which leads to my cornerstone statement:
Sam Bradford can be an elite quarterback when he's given elite protection. His ball placement can be phenomenal, his decision making delightful, and his leadership more than sufficient. This goes back to his Oklahoma days, where he had ridiculously good protection and scorched the FBS.
However, when in the face of pressure this season, Sam seemed to blink. There are a few reasons for this:
-Terrible usage of playmakers in playcalling
-Virtually no running game
-A refusal to run an uptempo approach to negate our lack of a running game
The turning point for me, and the point at which I jumped off the Sam bandwagon, was the 49ers game. Sam made some bad throws, and just played an ugly game.
However, with the emergence of Zac Stacy, things started to turn around for the Rams offense. Bradford was kept off the ground, because defenses couldn't always assume that we were passing. As a result, he started to look like a good (not quite great, but good) quarterback once more.
While we still hadn't quite found our passing identity yet - Givens was being underutilized, Austin was being overutilized, Cook wasn't cooking - our offense was getting there... And then the worst-case scenario happened: Sam went down.
So we were left to wonder what the future holds, given the mixed bag of results we've seen this season.
Once again, Sam Bradford can be elite with elite protection. But can we provide him with that elite protection that he needs? Or will we continue to provide average protection and see him be an average QB?
I don't think that we can. Which is why I'm completely on board with a guy like Teddy Bridgewater. Here are the things I see in Bridgewater that I don't see in Bradford:
-Ability to work in a muddy pocket. I don't think that many people could objectively look at both Bradford and Bridgewater and say that Bradford has anywhere near the pocket presence that Bridgewater does. Teddy throws some darts while taking hits, and moves around to avoid taking many other hits.
-Ability to throw on the run. Every team in the NFC West can get after the QB... That likely won't change for the next half-decade. While we don't want a fragile running QB, having a QB who uses his mobility to throw (a la Aaron Rodgers) is a very valuable commodity. Bradford isn't terrible at throwing on the run, but Bridgewater is fantastic at it.
Also, there are some other things that I really like about Teddy Bridgewater.
-Our formations are similar to the offense he's running at Louisville. They run a bit more pistol than us, but they're an offense that emphasizes running the football. As a result, Bridgewater has a great play-action fake, and I could see him easily thriving in our scheme.
-Teddy throws a very catchable ball. Considering our receivers struggle with drops, the more catchable the less droppable.
-Teddy stands out on the big stage. He's had some of his best performances against his toughest competition.
-Teddy Bridgewater won't cost us $14 Million next year
So look, I don't think that Sam is the biggest problem on this team... In fact, I don't even think that Sam is a problem on this team. But to me it looks like Carolina's situation a couple of years ago. They had just drafted Jimmy Clausen, but Cam Newton was available. Or the 49ers situation: They had Alex Smith, but they drafted Kaepernick.
So we don't trade the farm to get him (like the RG3 deal), but if the opportunity comes (including trading a 1 and a 3, or something similar), I'd love to see us take Bridgewater. I think he'd be both an immediate and a long-term upgrade from Bradford.
While comments/criticisms are always appreciated, I'm not going to try and argue anyone into agreeing with me. As always, I hope you enjoyed the read regardless of whether or not you agree.