Vaughn: Is Bradford the problem?

Vaughn: Is Bradford the problem?

Vaughn: Is Bradford the problem?

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by Doug Vaughn / FootballSTL

KMOV.com

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 20 at 1:52 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Quarterbacks generally get too much of the credit or the blame, depending on how the game went. Either he was the hero who led his team to victory, or the goat who needs to be replaced by the back-up. Doesn’t matter who the back-up is, get him in there!

 

The Rams don’t really have the realistic option of threatening Sam Bradford with a spot on the bench. Kellen Clemens is a serviceable second stringer, but he’s not a threat to take Bradford’s job. At least not right now. It’s still too early for the Rams to even consider that possibility. Bradford has played well enough, and flashed enough potential, to give Jeff Fisher hope that he’s the guy who will someday take the Rams to playoff contender status. But you can’t help but wonder how long that’s going to take.

How would you rate Sam Bradford's pro career to this point? Share your thoughts.

Bradford turned in a very disappointing performance against the Jets. He was sharp the previous week in San Francisco, in one of those games that makes you think this is indeed the quality, franchise quarterback the Rams need. But you never really know what you’re going to get with Bradford. After a terrific first drive against the Jets that ended with a touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson, Bradford couldn’t get much going the rest of the day. He threw a bad interception, lost a fumble that led to a Jets touchdown, and finished the day with just 170 yards passing on 44 attempts. His quarterback rating was a dismal 67.4. This came against a Jets team that had been struggling mightily on defense.

Maybe the most discouraging part of the game came late in the fourth quarter. With the Rams desperate to put together quick scoring drives, Bradford’s throws were all over the place. Several of his passes weren’t even close to the intended target. The Rams get criticized for not surrounding Bradford with enough talent at the wide receiver position, but Jerry Rice couldn’t have caught most of the passes Bradford was slinging around the dome late in the game. For a guy as athletic as Bradford is, he hasn’t shown much ability to avoid the pass rush. He’s looked slow at times in realizing when it’s time to leave the pocket and take off running, or throw the ball away to avoid a sack.

Bradford has started 36 games now over two and a half seasons in the NFL. You have to wonder if this is the finished product, if this is as good as he’s going to get. He’s half way through the monster contract he signed as the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. It’s a little discouraging to see how other young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Andy Dalton and Russelll Wilson stepped in and produced impressively in their rookie seasons with bad teams.

How long can the Rams wait for Bradford to develop into the kind of quarterback they thought they were drafting in 2010? The answer to that is probably tied to the length of his contract. For now, he’s the guy. And he should be the guy.  It’s too early to give up on him. He’s shown enough to still be the leader of the franchise. But just barely. If the Rams are going to make significant progress and become a playoff contender anytime soon, Bradford just has to play better.

 

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