It’s like everyone knows him, but no one knows who he is? Sam Bradford is the biggest enigma in the NFL. Because of this, there is a clean split on Bradford. You have your Bradford lovers, and then you have your Bradford haters. Bradford lovers will go to hell and back defending him. Bradford haters would like nothing more than to see the Rams draft or trade for a replacement. Bradford's support is strong with his lovers, but his nonsupport is equally as strong from his haters.
You can search all of sports, and you will still be hard pressed to find someone that stirs up an argument like Sam Bradford can. The only other argument I have known to get more heated is when people say Kobe Bryant or LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan (those can be fighting words). But the Bradford debate is not far behind. It's seems the football world is set on all other young QB's, except Bradford. Ask about Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, or Brandon Weeden (not really a "young" QB, but fresh in the NFL nonetheless), and you will get a lot of negative responses - notifying you - that they are not franchise caliber QB's and cannot lead a team to a super bowl. Ask about Cam Newton, Russell Wilson (already got his), or Andrew Luck, and people begin to blush uncontrollably about their potential success in the NFL 10 years from now.
Bradford does not unanimously fall on either side the way those other guys do. Bradford has only unanimously played the fence better than everyone else. As a Bradford lover, I know all the positives/excuses for him. He has progressively gotten better over the course of his first four seasons. His 2013 season prior to his injury was on pace to be about as good as it gets. He also never had a decent receiver core before last year. His offensive coordinators have SUCKED. His offensive line has SUCKED. He has not experienced continuity. So on and so forth...
When Sam went down, he was top six in yards, TD's, completions, and rating. Only Peyton Manning had more TD's than him. In the seven games Bradford played in for 2013, he saw 21 passes dropped. Of those 21, four would have been touchdowns. He even had a fifth touchdown (61 yds) called back for a questionable tripping penalty. Bradford's season ended with a 60.7% completion rate and 14 TDs. If those four drops for TD's were caught - and the 61 yard bomb to Tavon Austin was never negated - his season ends with 19 touchdowns. And if just half of the drops were caught - we will say 11 since the total number of drops is odd - he finishes with a 64.8 completion rate. Those numbers averaged out over the course of 16 games comes to....
4123 yds, 43 TDs, 65% completion, 9 int, 99.2 rating (est)
But for every glass that is half full, it is also half empty. Bradford has a tendency to dump the ball off. While a lot of it has to do with play calls, some of it is just the cold hard truth that Bradford does not trust his receivers. When you watched him with Danny Amendola and Danario Alexander (players he trusted) he would let it rip. He did not care if they were in single coverage, double or triple. He believed that he could put the ball in a spot in they would get it. He does not show that same faith with his current receiver core. Now they have to have a step on the defender for him to even consider. Bradford is also very average when reading the blitz. He is not bad at it at all, but he is nowhere near great at it either. That may be an okay trend for some traits, but when you are talking about the blitz, you have to get it every time. The purpose of the blitz is to either sack the QB or force him into a mistake. More times than not, when the QB does not know it is coming, one of the two will happen.
Bradford's biggest issue is that he struggles with his health. He has had a hard time staying healthy in his career. There seems to always be something. Me being a Bradford lover, this is hard for me to accept. I was as big a Brett Favre fan as a person can be. I went from the original "Iron Man" to the "Paper Man". That's a tough pill to swallow. Bradford has to do something different in his workout regime or something to help increase his health. If he gets hurt again it is probably for the best to write him off. Sam Bradford literally has no other option but to play a full 16 games, and play well.
I do not judge QB's off of wins and losses. This is the ultimate team sport, so I judge TEAM wins and losses. I judge individuals off of their performances. There are a few players that are so good - so amazing - that they somehow propel their team into the winning column. But that type of player is far and away the best at what they do. So I don't use that as a measuring stick. It would be silly and naive of me to expect every player to be the next Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, or Ray Lewis.
Let me be clear: I don't know if Sam Bradford is elite, has the skills to be, or ever will be. Elite is a word that's used loosely. But in my opinion... YOU DO NOT NEED AN ELITE QUARTERBACK TO WIN A SUPERBOWL. There has been plenty of non-elite QB's to win it all. It is not a necessity, but merely an added bonus. But I would like to see Bradford establish himself as one, or the other. Either he is apart of the Brandon Weedon tier of QB's, or he has a bright future along with the Andrew Luck tier. Either way, this season should answer a lot of questions.