St. Louis Rams and Situational Sam Bradford

Dilip Vishwanat

Sam Bradford has two seven win season’s under his belt. Why not dissect the statistics to see how he accomplished each?

In 2010, Sam Bradford - in his rookie season - lead the Rams to victory seven times. There was no question he’d be the guy to do it, coming off the one win season which afforded the Rams the opportunity to draft him. An impressive showing as a rookie, the NFL rewarded the draft’s 1st overall selection with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Two years later [2012], Bradford once again picked the Rams up from a forgettable season prior, and lead the team to another seven win season. It was the second time in his young career that he finished the season just shy of a .500 record, while also being the second full [16 game] campaign.

Let’s take a look at how he finished out each of his seasons statistically.

Year
G
Att
Comp
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
Rating
2010
16
590
354
60.0
3,512
18
15
76.5%
2012
16
551
328
59.5
3,702
21
13
82.6%

It’s fair to say there’s been progress. The jury is still out [and they won’t be back for about seven more months] on whether or not his body of work has reached expectations. But that’s another topic altogether…

The Company He Keeps

Everyone enjoys a good comparison. If you were wondering how Bradford ranked amongst the other NFL QB’s at season’s end or the play-callers he found himself sandwiched by, you’re in luck! I just so happen to have that information.

In 2010:

Rank
Player
Yds
TD
INT
Rating
11
3,622
25
10
93.6%
12
Sam Bradford
3,512
18
15
76.5%
13
3,451
25
6
95.9%

...and in 2012:

Rank
Player
Yds
TD
INT
Rating
14
Joe Flacco
3,817
22
10
87.7%
15
Sam Bradford
3,702
21
13
82.6%
16
3,669
27
16
87.4

I bet you saw it, too. Sam Bradford is really good at finishing right behind Joe Flacco in season’s where he wins seven games. And contrary to the improved stat lines from 2010 to 2012, Sam found himself farther from the Top 10 QB’s than in his rookie season.
Pass Plays for Six

It’s no fault of Bradford’s, but the Rams are not - and have not been - the offensive juggernauts they were in the Greatest Show on Turf era. Scoring touchdowns hasn’t come easy, but Sam certainly hasn’t been surrounded by the lethal weapons the Rams fielded during the GSOT days.

In 2010 - as noted above - Sam ended the season ranked 12th in total passing yards. The 18 touchdowns, ranked 18th in the league. In this most recent season, Bradford finished 15th in overall yardage, and 15th in touchdowns. Add it all together, divide it, carry the 3, multiply by pi if necessary, and what you’ve got is a whole lot of average.

Balls Thrown To the Other Team

Nobody likes it when their team’s Quarterback throws the ball and it’s caught by a player wearing a different colored jersey. Bradford has in no way been accused [nor should he] of being interception-prone. In his rookie season, the 15 picks thrown were good for a four-way tie for 9th place in the league. Two time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning, led the NFL that year with 25 - Three shy of Bradford’s combined 2010 and 2012 totals.

Last season, he was able to further minimize costly/erroneous throws to defenders. And even though that figure was reduced [to 13], Eli Manning decided that he’d start throwing to his own players, and pushed Sam down the rankings to 15th [there it is again] overall.

Let’s Dice It Into Quarters

As I've mentioned, the Rams aren’t typically going to find themselves running away with victory early on in the game... if at all. The games are typically close, and in 2012 a very good Rams defense displayed that games can be won without a 20+ figure under ‘Rams’ on the scoreboard. With that being said, the objective is to score when the offense has the ball. How - and when - that happens is of the utmost importance. ‘Setting the tone’ early in the game can devastate an opponent, build confidence in the offense, and ultimately put the team in a better position to succeed. Having to come from behind - on the other hand - often leads to desperation, untimely mistakes, and disappointment. Sure, there are instances where a team sneaks up in the waning moments and secures victory. It’s exhilarating. Detroit Lions fans could’ve described it to you after Week 1 of the 2012 season.

Here’s how Bradford has decided he’d like to spread out his TD totals during the 2010 and 2012 seasons. Anything stand out?


In 2012, he threw four TD’s during Qtr’s 1-3, and then drastically increased that figure to nine in the 4th Qtr. You know what that means... In 2010, the 2nd Qtr was Sam’s time to shine, as he scored eight of his 18 TD’s just before the halftime festivities. Carrying momentum into the locker room is one thing... trying to gain it in the final 15 minutes is another.

As you’re well aware at this point, the Rams won seven games last season. BUT, did you know that the Rams headed into the 4th Qtr trailing in ten of their games, and were tied in one? That means there were only five games in 2012 where the Rams entered the final 15 minutes not playing from behind, and hoping to score as precious seconds ticked off the clock.

Let’s be fair: The expectations for Sam Bradford are high. Deservedly so too. He was indeed a No. 1 overall selection, and fans of the team know what it’s like to have an extremely dangerous offense, and long for the days when the Rams offense fires on all cylinders again. He does deserve his fair shake, though.

The bolstered competency of the Rams’ coaching staff and management may have arrived at the perfect time in Bradford’s career. He’s being surrounded with legitimate NFL talent, and a more than adequate direction. "Make or break"? Quite honestly, that means very little at this point. At this time next year, I look forward to writing a "Situational Sam" piece where ranking Bradford will need only one digit. I’m seeing very little reason to believe otherwise.
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