Clearly, the loss to the Detroit Lions was a disappointing one, especially considering the Rams were not given a chance in anyone’s predictions before the start of the game. The defense played unworldly in the first half, causing three Detroit turnover, one of which was a pick-6 by Cortland Finnegan. Set aside the final outcome, the play of the Rams defense, the untimely penalties by the offensive line, and how did Bradford play? In a Sunday filled with impressive defensive performances, you may be surprised.
Bradford is anchoring the bottom tier of quarterbacks in terms of total yards with 198 yards, surrounded by the likes of Brandon Weeden ,Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Eli Manning. However, this should not be discouraging, considering the offensive system that Schottenheimer has employed. The first half started out with the predictable run-run-pass strategy, but became more explosive in the second half, which was surprising given the injuries to Wells and Saffold, as well as the subbing of Rok Watkins into the game. There seemed to be only one catchable attempt down the field, which, of course, was to Chris Givens. Although the pass was slightly underthrown, a good receiving coach will always tell you “if it hits your hands, you can catch it.” The rest of plays seemed to be poorly executed runs, and quick, 10-yard pickups from slants on 3rd down. The offense did seem to built momentum in the second half, with the 23 yard touchdown to Brandon Gibson, and the long 4th quarter drive to set up Zuerlein for a 48 yard field goal to put the Rams up by 3 with 2:00 remaining in the game.
Looking purely at the numbers, Bradford was one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL this week. Although he was one of the three quarterbacks that did not throw for over 200 yards, he did have the third highest Quarterback Rating, at 105.1. There are a couple of factors that led to this phenomenon. First, Bradford’s high rating was helped because he was also one of only eight quarterback to not throw an interception this week. To put that in perspective, there were six players who threw for 3 or more interceptions, including rookies Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck, and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. The second contributing factor, as previously mentioned, was the play calling from OC Marty Schottenheimer, which rang in a league-low 25 passing attempts for Bradford. Bradford completed 17 of those 25 passed for a 68.0% completion percentage (8th), each going for an average of 7.9 yards (8th).
Overall, Bradford looked good out there passing, although there is a ton of room for improvement. He ate the ball a couple of time, handing the Detroit defensive line a sack or two instead of taking the hit. However, for the most part, Bradford got rid of the ball `quickly. When he was given time, he found a man down the field, hitting Smith, Kendricks, and Gibson for 15+ yard completions. He saw more of the field in the second half, leading the Rams to 10 points, which were almost enough to snag the win for the St. Louis Rams. Hopefully, Bradford and the offense will hit the film room and continue to progress against what should be another tough matchup against the Washington Redskins at home.