I wish I could come up with an answer, but I can’t figure out why there isn’t universal excitement in St. Louis over new Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
Usually, among football veterans and experts, there are varying opinions as to the chances of a player to succeed. But with this kid, since his workout before the draft, the prevailing thoughts among those experts has been that if he doesn’t work out, it will be because of something we haven’t seen or don’t know about yet.
Saturday night after the Rams scrimmage…in which he was brilliant…Bradford talked about what he needed to do to get better. He talked about getting into the film room to better deal with blitzes, and he took responsibility for the mistakes of others, calling several illegal formation penalties “inexcusable.” As great as he was, he didn’t want to talk about that. He wanted to talk about getting better.
On Sunday, I got a text from 101 ESPN NFL analyst, and 27 year NFL defensive coaching veteran Rick Venturi. It said “I usually don’t get too excited in my cynical 60’s, but #8 is going to be special.” He told me at practice on Monday that several of Bradford’s
throws were simply indefensible, and says he has “unlimited ability and potential.” Jon Gruden has been quite positive about Bradford, as has Mike Holmgren. Bill Walsh disciple Terry Shea, who trained him before the draft after working with Trent Green in K.C. and Marc Bulger here, called Bradford the most accurate quarterback he’s ever worked with.
In the Monday night practice, Bradford committed a false start penalty, and just like every other player, ran a lap for punishment. He teammates rave about his ability and demeanor. His coaches talk about his command of the huddle and his leadership. He IS special, and has a chance to be great.
Yes, he did have surgery to tighten the AC joint , which was routine. In fact, most AC joint injuries are cured with rest and tape, but Bradford wanted to use caution. The shoulder is not an issue. Yes, the Rams offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback up until last year. But Bulger was sacked fourteen times in nine games last year, a pace for 25 on the season. If the Rams offensive line stays healthy (which every team needs to win), then Bradford should stay healthy. The same applies to the Saints and Drew Brees, the Colts and Peyton Manning and the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. If the line is healthy, then they keep the quarterback upright.
Bradford fits all the qualifications that recent top NFL quarterbacks share. He started at least 30 games in college, his completion percentage was well over 60 %, he led his team to victory and had a terrific touchdown to interception ratio. He has shown he has no problems taking a snap from under center, and his footwork has been perfect. In addition, he’s absorbed the playbook like a sponge, and astonished Rams coaches with his knowledge of the system.
Unless someone REALLY wanted the Rams to draft Ndomukong Suh and have a personal agenda against Bradford, there’s no reason NOT to be excited. Will he be great in his rookie year? Probably not. Manning threw 28 interceptions in his rookie year, and Troy Aikman didn’t win a game.
Yes, we live in a negative society, and we live in the Show Me State. But football fans in St. Louis have something to be REALLY excited about, and it would be a shame if we wasted our emotion in a negative way, rather than enjoying something we’ve never seen…the evolution of a young, stud quarterback.