In August, Sam Bradford re-injured his knee ending his 2014 season before it started.
Today, the 7-5 Cleveland Browns are struggling to stand with their starting quarterback for the entirety of the 2014 season, Brian Hoyer, with rookie Johnny Manziel chomping at the bit to begin his NFL career...with a host of Browns fans behind him.
These aren't unrelated.
Filling the quarterback position is one of the most confounding propositions in all of sports. The market doesn't allow sufficient labor supply for 32 teams to capably employ a quarterback who is consistently competent over the course of multiple 16-game seasons. Peter King ran down some of the most important factors going into the denouement of this season for some of the most QB-needy teams today and the potential impacts the QBs in the 2015 draft class could have, positive and negative. It's worth having some perspective though.
For fans who hope/expect Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston to come in and save their franchise from another half decade or more of disregard, they'd do well to recognize that Rams fans have held the same hopes for Sam Bradford since the spring of 2010, that Washington fans had after sacrificing much of their future to be able to add RGIII. This isn't a process rooted in certainties.
a healthy Sam Bradford would have made the #Rams one of the better teams in the NFL this season.— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) December 1, 2014
There is nearly no certainty whatsoever in finding a capable NFL quarterback. You could argue that the last QB prospect that inspired as much confidence as Andrew Luck was John Elway. There's a span of 31 years between those two.
As Misone laid out at the beginning of last month, it's a tough, tough fill. So Rams fans shouldn't be surprised when Jeff Fisher says he expects Sam Bradford to be under center for the Rams in 2015:
No, Sam Bradford hasn't played in line with his contract. And no, he hasn't had an overwhelming plethora of performances that create demand for his services.
I asked the managers of the 31 other SB Nation NFL blogs and their senior staff that if Sam Bradford were a free agent this offseason, would they advocate signing him to their teams? I got these 37 responses from 30 of those 31 sites:
That's 34 to 3. Eight percent.
I tweeted out when the Rams decided to put Shaun Hill under center and make Austin Davis the backup that people weren't really identifying the problem. The problem wasn't that the Rams had chosen Davis over Hill. It was that they had to make that decision.
The ONLY right decision in choosing between Shaun Hill and Austin Davis to be your starting quarterback is "give me a different decision."
So as I read Robert Klemko's dispatch at MMQB from Mike Martz's basement (a sentence introduction I never thought I would be able to write), it was laden with the difficulty of the job at the quarterbacks' feet.
More reads on the Rams' future
More reads on the Rams' future
Coaches go through the tape with their team all week identifying dozens upon dozens upon dozens of things to identify and ignore and predict and anticipate. They install packages to take advantage of the perceived opponent scheme and personnel to support their quarterback's ability to identify, ignore, predict and anticipate. And then we demand that those QBs to do just that over and over again all in the matter of about 5 seconds and apply the things they do find according to perhaps 15 or so criteria (Note: you should always read more Smart Football) while realizing that multiple massive, massive human beings will soon be doing everything they can to smash your body into the ground.
It's next to impossible. We can't expect a 34-year old journeyman backup to do it. We can't expect an undrafted product who doesn't have the arm strength or the accuracy to do it. Perhaps Sam Bradford can do it. Perhaps we'd be better off handing the keys to someone else.
But leaves the question of what to move on to...the same question we were asking earlier this calendar year. This piece from the Washington Post today had it right:
When is it time to give up on the would-be franchise quarterback and move on?
There is no easy answer, and the stakes are exceedingly high.
The Rams have been asking the question since Kurt Warner left and Bulger began to decline soon thereafter. They've been asking it every year through Steve Spagnuolo's tenure and throughout Fisher's time as head coach. We're going to be asking the question again in a couple months.
Sometimes there just are no answers.