posted on December 27, 2012 08:27
Alternate headline: Sam Bradford Is Inconsistent But Don't Give Up On Him Yet
Alternate headline 2: Drafting a Quarterback 'Isn't Giving Up on Bradford'
In Week 16, the Rams grabbed hold of their chance at a winning record by forcing four Josh Freeman interceptions and converting them into 21 points. You'll recall Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth touchdown of the season, which ranks No. 2 on the Rams TD list in 2012 behind Brandon Gibson (5).
Jenkins' three interception returns for touchdowns tie the rookie record set by Lem Barney and Ronnie Lott -- both Hall of Fame enshrinees. These are good things.
RAMS SHUT OUT OF FIRST WAVE OF PRO BOWLERS
This fact means anywhere from one to nine Rams players could be in Hawaii after every starter suffers cramping, family emergencies or is still competing for a Super Bowl championship. The Pro Bowl is hilarious because it so awful. From the uniforms to the apathetic play, it's a real exercise in futility.
Consider that the doormat of the 2012 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs, had five players elected to this year's Pro Bowl ... and the fact that I'm even discussing this is fruitless.
ABOUT RAMS QUARTERBACK SAM BRADFORD
Bradford has progressed from his dismal performance in 2011 to the tune of "average". His 83.2 passer rating ranks 18th. His 20 touchdown passes -- tied with Robert Griffin III -- rank 18th.
RG3 separates himself from Sammy B, however, when you consider he's thrown just five interceptions, he's first in the league in passing Yards Per Attempt (Bradford is 23rd) and has rushed for 752 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Bradford has one touchdown and 121 yards rushing.
If it makes you feel any better, Bradford is right next to Eli Manning on the passer rating scale. He's also right next to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Freeman.
Bradford has posted at least a 90.0 passer rating six times in 2012. He's also posted a passer rating below 70 five times. Consistency is the key for sustained excellence in the NFL. If Bradford can eliminate the red zone turnovers and keep his "poor" games in the average category, he'll naturally become a top flight quarterback.
But should we expect that? There isn't a clear answer right now.
Against the league's worst pass defense, Bradford completed 13/27 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. At one point in the game, Bradford was 12/20 for 200 yards with the two TD's and one INT. That means he completed one of his last seven passes for negative four yards.
The numbers were helped by Bradford's 80 yard catch-and-run to Lance Kendricks for a touchdown at the start of the second half. Take away that play and he completed 12/26 for 116 yards.
At times, Bradford was jumpy in the pocket for no reason. The Bucs didn't register one sack of Bradford and the protection was pretty good the majority of the afternoon.
His interception to cap the Rams first drive was a terribly thrown ball. And it makes Rams fans want to bang their head against the wall.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT BRADFORD
Let's go straight to the horse's mouth. Here's Bradford on Bradford.
Sam Bradford: "Obviously, I would like to be playing my best each week. But I think sometimes you've got to take a step back and look at it. It's my third year, but at the same time, it's the first year in this offense. We're a young team, we're a young offense. We've experienced some growing pains this year, but I think overall we've improved as the year's gone on and that's all you can ask for. We're going to keep improving and keep getting better."
And his offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer: "I know, in Sam's mind, the main thing is wins. We all want to win. … There's certainly a lot of room for him to grow. I think he's got a much greater feel for the offense now. But I think the arrows pointing up. Give him a little bit more time in his progression as a young quarterback, and I think that he'll be a top-flight player."
Last season, Bradford threw six touchdowns and six interceptions. He posted a passer rating of 70.5. The numbers say he's improved -- and he has. We've seen Bradford excel on the deep ball. The biggest sticking point has been consistency.
The fact that Kellen Clemens is the primary backup and the fact that the Rams can't afford to rely on their defense to score touchdowns and win games every week says to me the team needs to draft a quarterback in the 2013 draft. It doesn't mean the Rams are giving up on Bradford. It means the Rams are smart.
The team needs to look no further than the volcanic Seattle Seahawks. The 'Hawks signed former Packers backup QB Matt Flynn to a big deal in the offseason. Then the team drafted Russell Wilson in the third round of the draft. After preseason, the team decided to go with Wilson even though the money was going to Flynn. It's turned out pretty well for Seattle.
Even the Redskins drafted Kirk Cousins 100 picks after drafting RG3. They've reaped the benefits of that selection with an OT win over the Ravens and a win over the Browns with Cousins commanding the ship.
There are no guarantees, obviously, but the Rams need to be prepared and be ready for anything. That includes injury to Bradford, pushing Bradford with competition and giving themselves the best chance to win.
It's easier than ever for rookie quarterbacks to adapt and play well in the NFL. The Rams should use one of their picks to provide insurance and security should Bradford falter or fall to injury next season.