Sam I am…A blast from the past

Posted by Uptown Murf On April – 4 – 2013

The pistol. The read option. Spread formations. Athletic quarterbacks. Just a few of the many schemes and personnel groupings that have taken the world of football by storm. Names like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Johnny “Football” Manziel, excite even the most casual of fans. Young QB’s that seem to do stuff athletically, once only immortalized in video games.

As exciting as these new players and schemes are – I firmly believe there will always be a spot in the upper echelon in the NFL for the ‘ole drop back passer! Remember him? You know, the guy who’s 40 time needed to be timed with a sun dial. The guy reminiscent of your granddaddy’s favorite football players you heard about growing up. Sure you remember him. There were three of those guys playing on championship weekend this past season! Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady all led their respective teams to a shot at the Super Bowl. Neither will be mistaken for this new breed of QB. So let’s not go throwing the traditional pocket passer away just yet. There is a guy who resides in the ‘Show Me State’ that will have a major say so in the pantheons of NFL folklore! His name you ask?? Sam Bradford!!!

"Sam Bradford"

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Quick question. Which team had the best record inside the vaunted NFC West division? The upstart Seattle Seahawks you say? An early pick to reach the Super Bowl next season? The budding juggernaut San Francisco 49ers? The overwhelming favorite to actually win the Super Bowl, a game they participated in this past season?

Uh no. That would be the 7-8-1 St. Louis Rams! The Rams went 4-1-1 inside what many think is the best division in football (Relax NFC South). Led by my pick to be the next great young QB in the league. Sam Bradford was the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was the offensive rookie of the year on a team that won only 1 game the previous season. The jump from 1-15 to 7-9 was one of the biggest turnarounds of concurrent seasons in NFL history. Bradford looked to be on a fast track to being possibly the next Tom Brady. Second year head coach Steve Spagnuolo along with first year offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur installed a traditional West Coast offensive scheme that seemed to highlight Bradford’s best attributes. The first of which being accuracy. Relying on a heavy run game that set up play-action, Bradford was able to complete 60% of his throws. Many of the short variety to possibly the worst group of receiving talent in the NFL. Names like Mardy Gilyard, Brandon Gibson, Laurent Robinson and Danny Amendola headed Bradford’s top pass targets. (He finshed with 18TD’s, 15 Int’s and over 3,500 yards) But as success goes in the NFL, change usually comes.

Shurmur’s work with Bradford landed him a head coaching job in Cleveland. But instead of hiring a coach familiar with the West Coast offense to promote continuity, the contingency decided to go in a completely different direction with the hiring of vertical passing guru Josh McDaniels. Who just two seasons earlier landed a head coaching job off of his work with the New England Patriots and their record breaking offense of 2007. This proved to be a costly mistake as the personnel didn’t fit this type of a scheme.

I truly believe that Sam Bradford can play in any scheme and make any throw with superior velocity, accuracy, and timing. But for it to truly be effective, you need fast vertical receivers. Which the Rams didn’t have outside of an injury prone Danario Alexander. And you need a very stout pass blocking offensive line. It’s one thing to lack the receivers, it becomes a proverbial suicide mission to lack pass protection. Needless to say this scheme got Bradford hurt right away – as he only managed to play in 10 games. All of which he was hampered by injury. Bradford finished with 6 TD’s and 6 INT’s, 2100 yards with only 53.5% of his passes completed. So in the National Football League – with failure, comes change…

"Sam Bradford"


Bradford’s third year brought about a new general manager in Les Snead, former personnel guy for the highly successful Atlanta Falcons. A new head coach in the highly respected former Tennessee Titan head man, Jeff Fisher. And finally, a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer, who had success with the New York Jets with a young QB in Mark Sanchez. Schottenheimer’s offensive scheme blends West Coast principles with a tinge of the vertical passing game.

This whole new regime proved to be just what the doctor ordered as Sam had a resurgence and went for career high’s across the board. He had 21 TD’s, 13 Int’s, completed 60% of his passes for 3,702 yards and an 82.6 rating. The offensive line was upgraded in talent, and just added former 2008 #1 overall pick Jake Long to serve as the anchor of that line. Rookie receiver Chris Givens was a major surprise and looks to be a premiere deep threat at the X receiver position. Tight end Lance Kendricks had a solid year and will be coupled with possibly the most athletic tight end in football in former Titan Jared Cook Jr.

By all accounts, the Rams will be targeting another play-maker at receiver.  Second year running backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead look to take over for long time Rams workhorse Steven Jackson. The Rams have one of the youngest rosters and one of the most explosive set of personnel groupings in the league. Coupled with a tenacious defense full of young stars as well that finished 14th overall last season – it’s a safe bet that the Rams will be a force of competitive nature. And it’s suffice to say that Sam Bradford and his “Old School” way of quarterbacking will be among the “Elite” for many years to come. Ask RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick – and the rest of the new breed of QB’s…All who fell victim last season to one Mr. Sam Bradford and his upstart St. Louis Rams.

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  • Braeden

    I completely agree with you, I have been an advocate of Bradford a while now and am glad to find another.

    • Uptown Murf

      Yeah man, I’ve been a fan since his first snap against “The U” as a freshman when Rhett Bomar was suspended. I still have that game on tape. I love his accuracy and arm strength. He has poise and his ability to move in the pocket is way underrated!!

  • Bex_R1986

    Welcome, always great to see new content and contributors.

    Likewise a fan of Bradford and think he’ll prove a success in time. He may be more pocket passer as opposed to the current trend, but he’ll always be linked with them, as the Rams chose to keep him rather than go with a trade/use their no.2 pick on RGIII themselves.

    A little bit of of a risk taken with two points being made consecutively, where Bradford gets referred to as potentially the next Tom Brady, then questioning of the Rams for hiring the guy who helped Brady to one of his best seasons in Josh McDaniels. Comparisons are fraught with danger! Agreed though that in the right system with improved protection and receivers, Bradford can be a hugely successful QB.

    Looking forward to more =)

  • Uptown Murf

    Hey thanks for reading bro…As for your points – you’re very astute! But the reason I questioned the McD move – for a guy who is possibly the next Tom Brady is; That specific system requires superior line play. How many times have we seen Tom stand tall for what seems like 7 seconds just patting the ball? Sam could be sacked 3 x’s in 7 seconds with how bad that line was that season, as we saw. Also if you’re trying to go down-field you better have an elite deep threat or atleast a guy who can threaten defenses with speed. The Rams had nothing of the sort. D.Alexander maybe, but he plays like 2 games a year b/c of his 5 knee operations…Bottom line they didn’t have the personnel to be the Patriots…But I appreciate the feedback – I will have a lot more like this for ya.

  • jeff.rey

    100% agree. I really questioned whether he was a bust a few times, but always came out thinking he was fine. He went from short passing game to deep passing while injuries and pathetic play plagued the O-line and his receivers couldn’t separate to save their lives.

    The things I’ve heard about Spagnuolo after he was fired have been universally bad, from inexperienced coaches to Spagnuolo having to micromanage everything, not to mention that he went from head coach to out of the league in 10 months.

    Les Snead said it best: in Bradford’s two healthy seasons, he’s 15-17-1. And that’s on a team that didn’t have nearly enough talent.

    • Uptown Murf

      Spot on bro! Spot on! Keep the comments coming my man. Snead and the Rams are on a Falcons like trend…

  • dan4rams

    I am a new fan, of yours. I agree whole heatedly, with your assessment of Bradford. I’ve been a Ram fan all my life. Being a big fan since, the early ’60′s.
    Bradford, has had it tough. Along with this whole Rams team. With all the changes of Personnel and Coaches. I can tell you, they are steaming in the right direction finally.
    Jeff Fisher is a very fine and intelligent coach. He has several years at the helm and knows what it takes to win in this leaque.
    He took a year off from coaching. But, he wasn’t sitting on his hands or trying to get the best Sports Caster gig. He is a student of the game. I’m sure he had plenty of time soul searching and reflection. He is much better and deeper in his approach these days. He certainly a players coach, more than ever. He has assembled a very good cast of like minded coaches to with similar phylosphies.
    Then you have Les Snead. He is such a competitor. He also thinks ahead and wants and can use his deep traits to help make this team become what it should be. They aren’t cast offs or in training. They have certain approaches, that are certainly going to make this team very competitive for the immediate and long haul.
    Here is not hoping anymore, if the Rams can get there. It isn’t about if, it’s about when? This franchise, has turned a corner. Bradford is certainly a key. I believe, that pretty much everyone on this team has bought into it too. Jacksonand Amendola as well as others may have gone, also ssome others may not be there by the start of next season. But, I can assure you. That this team is actually in good hands now.
    I’m sure Jeff and Les, will be finding what players they believe will help drive this team forward.
    With the new additions of TE Jared Cook and LOT Jake Long. The off season is going strong. I see it continuing, through the draft. So many, younger players never got to see many of the great player’s that have come and gone over the years with the Rams. But, their going to get to see this team grow from the Pitts of absurdity to a whole dynasty. This team isn’t loaded top to bottom with so called elite talent yet. But, it maybe sooner than later.
    With Shoties offensive mind and Jeff’s defensive mind set and all the particularccoaches bringing their really good talents to the table. There is no reason to believe this team is not going to succeed.
    Roger Saffold has stated, he will be there. He isn’t going to hold out. So with him buying to what Jeff is trying to do. He will too, be someone that can play his part in helping make Bradford more successful. That is a very good sign, that the team is still looking towards better things.
    Now with the draft.
    The Rams are in need of a few good talented players. For roles, that can fit Jeff’s thoughts. Like not so much, Tavon Austin. But, the dynamic style and energy he brings. But unfortunately, there are a few other teams looking at him as much. That goes with, many others that Jeff and Les covet. That goes with Chance Warmack, Kenny Vacarro, Jonathan Cooper, Sheldon Richardson and Cordarrelle Patterson too. You have to ask yourself? Do you pick the Player or do you pick the round? Many teams over the years just completely go by their own thoughts and not what the common guru’s out there preach about this and that player. Where is player should be or should fall etc. But do draft whom they can get like BPA (Best Player Available). This should always be the case. But, that too is discretionary.
    If I where in Jeff’s shoes. I may be letting Les work his magic. He can do some remarkable things at this time of year. Like he has done before. I’d certainly like to see Chance Warmack, Eddie Lacy, Ryan Swope, De’Andre Hopkins, Zavier Golden, Kyle Long, Terron Armstead, Bacarri Rambo, Chase Thomas, Kwame Feathers or Brandon Williams, Chase Thomas, Zach Line, Travis Johnson, Branden Kaufman
    , Cooper Taylor, Collin Klein, Branden Hansen, Zach Sudfield, Ray Ray Armstrong, Le’Veon Bell and Stedman Bailey all on this team. But we know, all can’t be or will. But, there is a chance many can and will. Having 2 1st Rd picks this year gives the Rams leverage they have never had. It gives the Rams choices that they need to take advantage with. Let’s hope and see if Les works his magic in another way this year. Because, this draft is what it is and some positions are deeper than others. There are going to be teams urgently needing to move up to best those in their division and seeing specific player/s that they really want. That goes for the Rams too, but the Rams as long as they get their player. Don’t really care at what number. Just as long as they can get him. The Rams fortunately, picked up both a LOT in Jake Long and a pass catching TE in Jared Cook. They eliminated those needs. Safety maybe 2, OLB are pressing needs but, the offense still needs weapons for Bradford.
    With Austin and Warmack gone. Either trading down #16 to Cincinnati makes perfect sense. Then getting in return, #37,#53,#118 makes for a fair exchange. At #22 either Eddie Lacy or De’Andre Hopkins makes sense or trade #22 to the Buc’s for #43,#73,#112 also is fair exchange. Those two teams now have 2 1st Rd picks. Now the Rams have none in the 1st Rd. But, they do now have 4 picks in the 2nd Rd 2 picks in the 3rd Rd and 3 picks in the 4th Rd. Making it now possible to pick:
    #37 Kyle Long OG/OT Oregon
    #43 Eddie Lacy RB Alabama
    #46 Matt Elam FS Florida
    #53 Stedman Bailey WR West Virginia
    #73 Ryan Swipe WR Texas A&M
    #78 Xavier Gooden OLB Missouri
    #112 Branden Williams DT Missouri Southern St
    #113 Marquise Goodwin WR/KR Texas
    #118 Devon Taylor DE South Carolina
    #149 Chase Thomas OLB Stanford
    #184 Zach Line FB SMU
    #222 Cooper Taylor SS Richmond.
    That would conclude a much better draft, then hanging on to the 2 1st Rd picks. Leaving so much more on the table.I seriously hope that Jeff and Les concors.

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