I know. This is all Sam Bradford’s fault. I’ve heard it all.
“He’ll never win here.”
“He is a bust!”
“He just doesn’t have what it takes.”
Rah, rah, rah!!! It’s boring, pretentious and quite tiring. I’d rather watch The Bachelor than watch a room full of random St. Louis Rams football fans rant and rave about Bradford. The kid never had a shot here.
If a Rams fan looked at Bradford’s career in plain view, here is what he would see.
First year: Rookie of the Year.
Second year: Injured and struggled.
Third Year: Decent yet not fantastic.
Fourth Year: Started great and got hurt.
Fifth Year: Got Hurt.
They are missing a lot of vital information.
He took over for the worst team in football(the shiny honor that comes with a #1 pick spot) and was the last top pick to be awarded a ridiculous contract. Afterwards, the rookie drafting pay scale was put in place. If Bradford had been drafted a year later, a lot of the crap I hear about him and his work wouldn’t exist. However, the contract follows a player wherever he goes and Bradford is going to make another cool clean 16 million to sit on the bench and hold a clipboard this season. He did this last year with stunning conviction. He grew the typical beard, looked like a sad orphaned dog and moped until he could start rehab.
Bradford’s knee blew up on Saturday in the third preseason game against Cleveland. Tackle Jake Long missed a tackle(happens to every lineman, but this big miss #2 for Long) and Bradford got hit below the waist and was taken off the field. While optimism spread through people’s sleep into Sunday morning, the dread came down about 2:20 Central time. Sam Bradford was done. He tore the Anterior Collateral Ligament in his left knee for the second straight year. Go figure. Sam Bradford is simply brittle and unlucky.
He got drafted to the wrong team at the wrong time. He had a great rookie year but was injured for nearly the entire second season. A third season brought new hope and a coach that actually had experience and an offensive coordinator that wouldn’t run away. Bradford came into 2013 ready to conquer everything until his knee blew up last November. Flash forward nine months and the nightmare has occurred again. I feel bad for the kid.
I feel a little bad for Head Coach Jeff Fisher, but I won’t buy him a poodle or play the violin for him. He makes great money but also gets to keep coaching. Bradford has to endure another long year of rehab. He goes back to square one and isn’t getting any younger or dependable. He is starting to slip down to that “could have been” status for quarterbacks in the NFL. He was a hot commodity in 2009-2010 but it will be 2015 before he throws a football for a reason and that’s painful to digest. I can only wonder where his head is at right now.
Bradford and his left knee aren’t speaking these hours and when he does return, the man should just get a Tony Stark like titanium brace around his left knee.
In my eyes, Bradford was a good quarterback. I don’t even look at his 2010 season anymore. That is so long ago that it loses reliability to me. I look at the second half of his 2012 season. When Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer adjusted the red zone attack, and Bradford and the offense took off and started scoring points. The Rams secured 5 wins against division rivals San Francisco and Seattle behind Sam. He came into 2013 without a reliable running back and still fired 14 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. His red zone efficiency was solid, even though the offense went through an overhaul with the Spread attack being tossed and the injection of Zac Stacy’s running inserted into the game plan. Bradford had been the man for the job since that turning point in 2012. All that changed with that first knee injury. It continued Saturday night with that second tear.
It’s not fair to judge Bradford on money alone. He was awarded that contract by a team and an agent because that was what EVERY NUMBER ONE OVERALL QUARTERBACK GOT. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. Bradford was good and people who fail to notice it are short sighted or simply don’t care to look. When finally given a worthy team to win games with, Bradford was up to the task.
Now he is hurt, and I doubt the Rams wager 16 million more on his legs holding up in 2015. Bradford’s shot may come elsewhere and I wish him the same ode I gave Steven Jackson last year. Go win somewhere else because you never got a fair shot here, team wise or health wise.
People slapped the savior tag on Bradford and that wasn’t a wise move. He never had the skill set to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. I saw that the first year he was here. He could make the occasional long pass and move the offense, but he wasn’t going to light up teams week to week. He needed help that wasn’t there. He could pull a Brett Favre and carry a team to postseason play. He was never that kind of quarterback. He wasn’t a game manager but something located below a game changer.
That is why I think the Rams will be okay without Sam Bradford. I won’t use the Trent Green/Kurt Warner example because it’s just inaccurate. Bradford isn’t Green and Warner is a once in a lifetime out of nowhere talent.
Shaun Hill, is more capable than Kellen Clemens and Clemens managed to contribute to 4 wins after Bradford’s injury in 2013. Hill doesn’t have flashy career numbers but I think he can make a few big plays and hand the ball off to Stacy. The Rams defense got better in the offseason and as long as Hill remains upright and doesn’t give the ball away, the team can still improve. In other words, win 8 games for the first time since 2006. Bradford wasn’t EVERYTHING to the Rams. This team is built on a few different types of forces. Pass rush, running the ball and accurate passing. The growth of receivers like Brian Quick and Tavon Austin will help Hill. Jared Cook and Kenny Britt will help Hill. Shaun Hill may not have the hype and promise Bradford was saddled with, but his numbers are just as good as Sam’s.
The Rams aren’t done. The season isn’t over. The lights aren’t going dark forever. Games still have to played. Quarters have to be won. Points have to be scored. Fisher and Les Snead paid the price for not drafting a quarterback earlier in the 2014 NFL Draft and they know that. Nobody has to tell them. They put all their chips on a young player’s health and it blew up in their face. Luckily, for them, they happened to sign a fine backup in Hill. The contingency plan was flawed but not absurd. The 2014 NFL Draft will be a curious one for the Rams but for now, they have football to play.
Without being too blunt, it would be nice if the team stopped committing so many damn penalties. Do that and the QB loss may matter far less than some presume.
Sam Bradford’s season may be dead, but the 2014 Rams’ season is far from over. It’s just beginning. Tackle, run, pass, cover and let the chips fall where they may.
Be sure to share a thought for what could have been a delightful year for young man Bradford. His bank account didn’t lose its footing, but the man’s head has to be in a desolate place.
That is what I think about most right now. The unlucky tortured mind of Sam Bradford.
Thanks for reading and follow me along on Twitter, @buffa82.