I have to wonder about us sometimes... You know who I'm talking about, right? I believe Rams fans - I count myself one of them - have been through years of soul crunching toil as they watch the team they love struggle. This season, Rams fans were teased with possibilities. Big names like Jake Long and Jared Cook were signed to hefty free agent deals. In the 2013 NFL Draft, they picked up some "spark" players, like Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree in the first round. Then Jeff Fisher threw his new charges together in a giant NFL salad bowl in Earth City, MO, and added a dash here or there as he tossed his concoction in the air for all to see. But salad is salad - rabbit food at best - and Rams fans wanted to see steak in the first four games of the 2013 NFL season...
I've read virtually every comment made in the threads here at TST since the 49ers game. If there's an overriding theme, it's that Rams fans are tired of waiting for players to blossom. Here's a news flash for you: Growth takes time.
The number of media know-it-alls slamming Sam Bradford right now borders on the absurd, if not down right ridiculous. These grown men - "experienced journalist all" - have even less patience than St. Louis Rams fans. Every one of them screamed about Bradford's lack of weapons in 2012. Jeff Fisher and team general manager Les Snead felt the same way, and went in search of viable offensive options. The disconnect the media and fans are having right now has to do with the "experience quotient" of these tout-able weapons. Let's see... Tavon Austin's a rookie. Daryl Richardson and Brian Quick are in their second NFL year. The rest of the running backs on the roster are 1st and 2nd year players, along with wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens. HELLO! They are young, and being thrown on the biggest sports stage on the planet. So what if they're underachieving, it's Sam Bradford's fault, right? Guys, can you see how foolish this is?
Don't get me wrong. As I study Bradford, I nitpick with the best of you. I've mentioned how concerned I am about the number of his passes batted down. I get the sneaking suspicion NFL defensive coordinators have seen a tell in Bradford when he holds onto the ball too long. Yes, his blocking has been off-kilter, but his time in pocket numbers have a great deal to do with 22 and 23 year old kids flying around in pass patterns, with giant linebackers and head hunting defensive backs slapping them around.
A little over a week ago, a Turf Show Times member - Caynine29 - wrote a piece entitled "Sam Bradford is a Joke". You really should read it, and so should the members of the NFL media. In a rye look at what's happening with the Rams, the writer sarcastically laid all the team's current failing at the foot of the former first overall draft pick. Why not, since the experience and talent level - at every position on an NFL team - is relative, right? They're getting paid, and the media has dubbed them capable weapons to succeed at the pro football level... Really?
Sam Bradford's development curve is directly tied to the players around him. I've never seen a situation like this before, in that many have simply dismissed the raw nature - or standard development time - of many on the Rams' current roster. Add in the less than stellar play of the Rams' defense, and you get a situation that's become so incredibly skewed, it boggles the mind.
What amazes me most, is how the broad media has set their minds to the fact Bradford has all these new weapons, and all are raring to go? You have got to be frickin' kidding me! The one experienced "weapon" Bradford has is Jared Cook - A TIGHT END! How the NFL world hasn't tumbled to the Rams feet is mind boggling, eh?
Don't get me wrong, I'm as worried as any Rams fan, but I tend to focus my angst toward the St. Louis Rams defense. Jo Lonn Dunbar may be back in the fold, but does anyone really think he's going to change this defense from its #27 NFL ranking by himself? I was filled with pride at the thought of the Rams having a Top 5 defense in 2013. Instead, they've reverted, back peddled, and regressed to a point I can't even see glimmers of what they were in 2012.
So broad media, just keep slaking your slam-thirst on Sam Bradford. It makes you look foolish at the very least, and at best uninformed. Whether or not Sam Bradford ever becomes an elite quarterback in the NFL can't even be addressed right now. To do so, eliminates key facets of how this team is morphing, growing, and - hopefully - coming together one day. Put any other quarterback in Bradford's place right now, and the up/down side will be negligible at best. This is the NFL. Teams have 53 players on them, not one...