Let me start by introducing myself as this is my first post on this website! My name is Mitch Finnegan, Finn works too, and I have been a huge fan of this site for a long time. Anytime I want the latest Rams news( all the time!) I head here. I have a lot of opinions about where this organization is going and what is in our future. I've lived and died with this team all throughout the Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett, and Steve Spagnuolo years. In my opinion the hiring of the current regime of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead was a key turning point for this franchise. Ever sense these two came to town we have been witnessing a huge roster make-over and for once, the team is being assembled based on skill level and talent instead of "faith" and "core values", like the Spagnuolo regime. Fisher and Snead basically cleaned house, but the new duo saw one piece that was key to the future they wanted to build. Sam Bradford. Hell, Sam is one of, if not the, biggest reasons Fisher decided to take his talents to the STL instead of South Beach. There is no arguing that Sam has his injury concerns, but if he can stay healthy he has shown flashes of being able to be that guy Fish and Snead were salivating over when they took the gig. Bradford has had plenty of "excuses" in his career up until this point. No play makers, no offensive line, too many different systems, you name it. Going into his 5th year as the starting quarterback of this football team, there is no more room for excuses. Fisher and Snead went all in and promised us a winning football team and positive results by the 2014 season, this upcoming season. Snead passed on Robert Griffin iii and other quarterbacks in the past few drafts and has accumulated an impressive group of talented, young, and cheap players to surround Bradford with. While i don't think that Brian Schottenheimer is the best Offensive Coordinator ever, i think his style of play, coupled with a very good Defense( i believe our D can easily be a top 10 maybe top 5 D after this draft, but that's for another post), which we can provide is the best approach in our division especially. You see it with the 49er's and the Seahawks. Establish the run, hit some homerun plays every once in a while, and be able to convert 3rd downs to keep the defense fresh. Even if the offense stalls on those drives, more times than not, their defense can shut the door and the offense can keep pounding it. More or less Schottenheimer is going to give us a lot of runs, some short to medium route passes, and a good amount of play action passes hopefully some of which will go down the freaking field. While Bradford was know as a spread it around, light you up through the air type of quarterback coming out, I believe he will be able to excel if Schottenheimer takes what he did with Clemens running the offense and tweaks it around Bradford a little bit.
What shocks me is that some people fail to give enough credit to Bradford for what he was able to do in 7( 6 and a half) games this past season before he suffered a torn ACL. In 7 games in 2013 Sam Bradford put up some very solid numbers. With 159 completions, a 60.7 completion percentage, over 1,600 yards passing, 14 passing touchdowns( tied for 5th in NFL through first 7 games), only 4 interceptions, and a passer rating of 90.9, Sam was well on his way to new career highs in many offensive passing categories. Sam was able to do all of that before players like Zac Stacy, Tavon Austin, Stedman(Studman) Bailey, or even Benny Cunningham came onto the scene and began to produce. Not to mention before Rodger Saffold began to man, and excel at, the right guard position and help the o line begin to play exceptionally well. With what we could get from this draft and the few key free agents we picked up I can't see any more excuses for Sam. Besides maybe Schotty being incompetent and not being able to utilize the weapons we have. Regardless of what happens in the draft if we start the season with the same offensive approach that we had once we started winning games last year with a completely healthy Bradford, our offense can create scoring opportunities regularly with a continued strong and aggressive running game and a much more enticing play action deep-ball from Sam as opposed to Kellen Clemens. Someone in the receiving corps will step up this year. Personally, I think the Kenny Britt signing will help our offense if he can stay healthy. I mean by now the guy has to realize that this is more than likely one of, if not, his last shot at a career on an NFL team. Fisher drafted him. Fisher was the only NFL coach of Britt's that was able to get production out of the talented wide receiver. I think we are going to see, if healthy, a good if not better than good Kenny Britt this year. Maybe he will finally be someone that Bradford can trust to catch a tight third down pass. Either way hopefully this year Sam will finally be able to show us what Fisher saw in him two years ago, for an entire season. If, however, Sam does struggle consistently (not just a bad game or two) Fisher, Snead, and myself included will have to swallow our pride and admit that a Lombardi Trophy won't make it to St. Louis with Sam as our quarterback.
With the draft approaching and names like Tom Savage, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, Jimmy Garopplo, and even South Carolina's Connor Shaw being connected to the Rams via pre-draft visits, I don't see any immediate concern that Sam's starting job is in jeopardy. Bringing in a rookie quarterback to sit behind Bradford, hopefully for a while if Bradford excel's this year and in the future, could be a good idea. Also some of those quarterbacks just mentioned could come in with some swagger and give Bradford some healthy competition. Just look at last year, once Bradford went down who did we have to rely on? Kellen Clemens. While he did preform much better than I anticipated, there is no denying that watching that man throw a ball was at times sickening. Clemens proved to be an ideal game manager who was able to orchestrate a very run heavy offense and surprise the defense every once in a while with a semi-spiral pass attempt. In a worst case scenario in which Bradford, god forbid, goes down due to injuries again, it would be nice to have a young passer who, like Clemens, can manage a game-plan while still being a threat to take chances and make plays with his arm. In a perfect world drafting a backup quarterback would be simply that, a backup. The 2014 NFL draft is one of the deepest drafts at multiple positions in several years. The Rams are in a great situation having 12 total draft picks including the number 2 overall pick. 3 of our picks lie in the top 40 of he draft. Snead and Fisher are doing their homework and checking it twice to make sure they surround Sam with an effective O-line and capable play-makers as well as back him up with a close to, if not, elite defense under new coordinator Gregg Williams. Sam has his critics and his supporters but one thing is generally agreed upon; Bradford needs to have a very strong and productive year if he wants to be the starting quarterback down the road. If he isn't able to, cutting him and finding a new signal caller would save this team a lot of money, but set our progression into a competitive team back. Sam Bradford doesn't have a reason to underachieve or fail this year so this season will tell us a lot about the kind of competitor, leader, and most importantly quarterback he can be for this team. Looking at what Sam was able to accomplish prior to his injury last year, I believe we will see a very balanced and productive attack from the Sam Bradford led, 2014 St. Louis Rams offense