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St. Louis Rams Fan Perspective: Rookie Quarterbacks

Nov 18, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) makes a pass during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The St. Louis Rams used the first overall pick of the 2009 draft on Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford from Oklahoma.  Bradford had a very good rookie season, bringing the Rams from a 1-15 record to 7-9 and narrowly missing the playoffs.  For his effort he earned the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award and appeared destined for a very bright future.  Bradford isn’t the only rookie quarterback in recent memory to have a sensational start to their career, in fact this season there are several rookie quarterbacks who appear to be ahead of the curve.  As a Rams fan who frequently reads NFC West related material I hear a lot of complaining from Seahawks fans that Luck and RGIII get all the hype while Wilson is the better performer.  So naturally that got me thinking about this current crop of quarterbacks and which one is having the better season through 10 games, as well as how that matches up to Sam Bradford’s rookie season.  I have put together the chart below for comparison and I included Sam’s numbers so far this season as a matter of comparison, which seems appropriate since Jeff Fisher was quoted earlier this year saying he considers this a rookie season for Bradford.  So in no particular order I have listed Luck, Griffin III, Wilson, and Bradford’s statistics through the first 10 games of their rookie seasons in this table.

QB Stats (10 gms) Rookie A Rookie B Rookie C Rookie D Bradford (2012) 
Attempts 253 412 277 372 332
Completions 157 235 186 228 202
Yards 1827 2965 2193 2158 2242
Yds/att 7.2 7.2 7.9 5.8 6.8
Completion % 62.1 57.0 67.1 61.3 60.8
TD 15 12 12 14 12
INT 8 12 3 9 8
Record Previous Season 7-9 2-14 5-11 1-15 2-14
Rookie Record 6-4 6-4 4-6 4-6 3-6-1

For any avid football fan the statistics should be pretty easy to match up with their respective quarterbacks based on the last two statistics used, and while I could have left that out I feel its a very important statistic when comparing these quarterbacks.  A quarterback doesn’t succeed on his own, and some quarterbacks are placed in far more favorable positions to begin their careers.  A quarterback who inherits a team that was on the verge of the playoffs the year before is probably in a better position to succeed than a player who takes over a team that selected him #1 overall.  Quarterbacks who start for a team after being the #1 pick are usually asked to do much more than any other rookie quarterback, Rookies A and C are averaging 25 and 27 pass attempts per game while Rookies B and D average 41 and 37 attempts per game.  A team typically runs between55 and 70 offensive plays per game so Rookies A and C are being asked to make plays on roughly 35-45% of their teams offensive plays, while rookies B and D are asked to make plays on 53-67% and 58-74% respectively.  So the question becomes which is the more impressive Quarterback?  Is it the Roookie whose team is coming off a respectable record and hands the ball off on 60% of the teams offensive plays and throws more touchdowns than interceptions?  Or is it the Rookie whose team was the worst in the NFL the previous year and  is asked to throw the ball on  60-70% of his teams plays and throws an equal amount of touchdowns to interceptions?  It is hard to compare players head to head in the NFL based on statistics since the NFL is such a complex game and there are so many things that factor into an individual players successes and failures.  For the less than avid fans Rookie A is Wilson, B is Luck, C is Griffin III and D is Bradford’s rookie season.  I personally would lean towards the Rookie quarterback who was asked to do everything and didn’t fold under the pressure, the guy who shows you he can lead a team not just manage it.  I do think that all 3 of these rookies have bright futures, they will just each do it in their own way.  If I had to choose one of the 3 rookies to be my QB I would take Luck every day of the week and twice on Sunday, who would you take?

Many of you are probably wondering why I included Bradford’s current year statistics in this article, its not because I am giving Bradford the “rookie” tag and comparing him to this years crop.  Instead I wanted to see how his statistics had changed from his rookie season to this season, there has been so much discussion lately about how Bradford hasn’t performed well enough, and while I do agree he could perform better I wanted to see how his performance compared to what was mostly considered a superb rookie season.  As I look over the numbers there is very little change from his rookie season to now, the biggest differences being the yards per attempt and attempts per game.  So why is it that everyone is so down on Bradford this season and on the verge of labeling him a bust?  It isn’t like the team made a big splash in free agency to vastly improve the talent around him and give him every opportunity to succeed and he hasn’t.  While I do love what the team did in the offseason, I wouldn’t say that they did much to improve Bradford’s weapons over his rookie season.  Givens has been a great surprise so far this season, but he is not a consistent threat in the passing game.  Danny Amendola, Bradford’s most reliable target was out for 3.5 games during this season which could have negatively impacted his statistics.  The Rams are definitely in a rebuilding mode and appear to be on the right track, but until they do something to improve his weapons and/or improve his protection you aren’t going to see Bradford reach his potential.

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Topics: St. Louis Rams

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jthrasher John Thrasher

    Very thoughtful post.Thanks. A few weeks back the commentators during the Packers-Rams game pointed out two interesting facts. In less than two and a half years Sam Bradford has thrown to 30 different receivers and played behind 23 different offensive linemen. This to go along with the well known yearly offensive coordinator changes. Really hard to get that rhythm going when it is always someone new, not knowing exactly what to do, and Sam the QB is left to chew the turf as the frustrated fans come unglued. This year has been better, but after Amendola the Rams still lack a Crabtree, Rice, Fitzgerald, Nelson, Johnson x 3, Wallace, Thomas, Harvin, Nicks, Wayne, etc, etc. to convert must do downs to get scores. This is an excruciatingly young team, which officials seem to delight in tormenting week in week out, and that oblong ball always seems to bounce the wrong way this season no matter who the opponent is.

    • tvandenbark

      Well thank you very much for reading the article and commenting. Great tidbits about the # of offensive lineman and receivers Bradford has worked with. The ball has certainly bounced the opponents way more often than not this season, Rams are 4 or 5 friendly bounces/calls away from being 6-4 instead of 3-6-1.