Oct 13, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) congratulates tackle Jake Long (77) after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Rams defeated the Texans 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Bradford A Closer Look: Week 6

Sam Bradford

Oct 13, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) hands off to running back Zac Stacy (30) against the Houston Texans during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Bradford and the St Louis Rams had a very impressive win against the struggling Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. While Sam Bradford and the Rams didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard with an explosive aerial attack, they didn’t have to as all three phases contributed to the  38-13 win.  When reviewing the game film and the stat line for Sam Bradford one phrase comes to mind, brutally efficient.  The Rams offense took advantage of the Texans miscues and Bradford played nearly perfect football. There was one deep pass to Chris Givens that should have been an 80 yard TD that went right off his fingertips, but other than that Bradford was on point. Also Zac Stacy continues to impress as the Rams running back, consistently getting yardage after contact and keeping the defense honest.  Stacy has shown an impressive combination of power and vision that has really benefited the entire Rams offense. Since this is still a young article we will do a brief review of the basic format, we will be doing a weekly article reviewing Bradford’s performance, first with a brief review of the statistics and how they compare to the rest of the league, followed by a more in-depth analysis using the NFL Rewind coaches film. The statistics have been taken from ESPN’s statistics page, and will show how Sam Bradford compares to the top 5 QB’s (by passer rating) from that week.  Since Bradford ended up with the 2nd highest QB rating for the week the chart will only have the top 5 QBs from this week.

Week Player Final Score Comp. Att. Comp% Yards TD INT Sack Fum Rating
6 Cam Newton W 35-10 20 26 76.9 242 3 0 1 0 143.4
6 Sam Bradford W 38-13 12 16 75.0 117 3 0 0 0 134.6
6 Nick Foles W 31-20 22 31 70.9 296 3 0 1 0 133.3
6 Ben Roethlisberger W 19-6 23 30 76.6 264 1 0 3 0 113.7
6 Joe Flacco L 19-17 20 34 58.8 342 2 0 5 1 112.6

This week Sam Bradford’s stat line shows a mere 16 pass attempts which is a new low for his young career being 1 attempt fewer than the game in Arizona last season, and well below the 43.2 attempts per game average through the first 5 weeks of the season.  One pass attempt that doesn’t go on the stat sheet drew a 40 yard pass interference penalty early on in the Rams 2nd possession which lead to the Rams first TD of the day.  Bradford didn’t have a single negative play that I could find on the film, something else that wont show up on the stat sheet but that has a huge impact on the Rams offensive efficiency.  With the new-found running game and Bradford’s decision-making the Rams were largely able to stay “on schedule” in terms of down and distance.  In spite of only having 117 passing yards Bradford still managed to improve on his relatively low yards per attempt average (ypa) with a respectable 7.3 ypa for the game.  The lack of “video game” statistics for Bradford in this game will largely keep him out of the mainstream media spotlight, but he played one of the best games of his young career posting a career best QB rating.  Now lets take a look at some of the plays that made Bradford’s sterling QB rating happen.

The first play we will take a look at comes from the Rams 2nd possession of the game, which happened to be the Rams first scoring possession.  The drive started out with an incomplete pass towards Lance Kendricks, which looked to be a tad overthrown and/or the timing was disrupted by a solid jam on Kendricks.  The second play of the possession was the 40 yard PI against the Texans setting the Rams up with great field position.  After a successful screen pass to Chris Givens and a couple of strong Zac Stacy runs the Rams were set with 1st and goal from the 2 yard line.  The Rams came out with a 4 TE set and Zac Stacy as the lone setback.  Bradford fakes the handoff up the middle to Stacy and rolls to his right where Cory Harkey and Lance Kendricks are running at the goal line and 7 yards deep in the end zone respectively.  Bradford sees that he has the safety on an island and as soon as the safety turns to get the deep man he fires a strike to Harkey for the 2 yard score.  This was a beautiful play all around as the defense bit hard on the play action fake leaving their safety all alone to account for Kendricks, Harkey and Bradford.

Next we will take a look at the Rams 4th offensive possession which started from their own 20 yard line following a Texans 20 yard field goal.  The possession starts with the Rams taking a shot deep for Chris Givens.  Givens comes in motion before the snap and gets a clean release, he runs a straight “go” route and blows by the safety.  Bradford has excellent protection and steps up in the pocket to deliver a well thrown ball that glances just off of Givens’ fingertips.  I have read some who call this a drop by Givens, but I am sure some will say Bradford put just a little bit too much on it.  I would be inclined to put it on the receiver as Bradford placed it on his hands 50 yards down field, but can see an argument being made both ways.  On 3rd and 10 the Rams execute a perfect screen play to Daryl Richardson who goes 18 yards for a first down.  After a couple of runs and a Houston penalty the Rams have 1st and 10 from Houston’s 45 yard line.  When the pocket starts to break down Bradford scrambles and slides down for a 4 yard gain, but also draws a 15 yard late hit penalty as he was contacted by Brian Cushing after giving himself up.  Again these are yards that don’t necessarily make it into the stat book but what could have been a no gain or even negative play (sack) turned into 19 yards for the Rams.  Zac Stacy has a BEAUTIFUL 18 yard run on the following play to set the Rams up with first and goal from the 8.  Two more Rams runs have them with a 3rd and Goal from the 2 yard line.  The Rams line up with 2 wide receivers 1 inline TE and Cory Harkey and Zac Stacy behind Bradford.  Bradford fakes the handoff to Stacy and then backpedals until Kendricks uncovers in the end zone for the easy TD.

Finally we will take a look at the Rams 5th offensive possession which began with 13 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and was really the Rams last meaningful offensive possession thanks to excellent defense and special teams plays down the stretch.  With 1st and 10 from the Rams 20 yard line Bradford somehow manages to step up and avoid the sack to unload a little dump off to Zac Stacy for 6 yards, again the ability to prevent a negative play and stay ahead of the chains is huge here.  After a Stacy run loses 2 yards Bradford finds Jared Cook for an 11 yard gain and a first down.  The following play helped to emphasis to those watching just how young and inexperienced the Rams skill players are as Bradford hit Brian Quick right in the back, one can only assume Quick thought it was a run play while Bradford had changed it to a quick pass after noticing the safety sneaking down into the box.  Bradford then gets great protection and hits Austin Pettis who makes a nice play by turning it up field and getting what he could resulting in 12 yards and a first down.  Following a run for a 2 yard loss Bradford has perhaps his most impressive play of the game.  The Rams have 2 WR to the right with Jared Cook in-line on the left and Kendricks and Stacy lined up behind Bradford.  Bradford fakes the handoff to Stacy and sets up in the pocket, the Texans Brooks Reed blitzes from the outside and gets around Jake Long leaving him barreling towards Bradford.  Bradford may or may not have sensed the pressure coming from the backside but he delivered a perfect throw to Cook as he was being hit.  Bradford hit Cook in stride which allowed him to turn it up field and into a 34 yard gain and 1st and Goal.  Stacy runs hard up the middle for 3 yards setting up a 2nd and goal from the 4 yard line.  The Rams line up with a single wide receiver to the left, two wide receivers and an inline tight end on the right side of the formation with Zac Stacy as the lone set back.  Recognizing that the cornerback has a 5 yard cushion on Brian Quick with no linebackers or safeties in the area Bradford just rises up and fires a strike to Quick who runs the quick slant and sheds the tackler at the goal line for the easy touchdown.  With the size and strength of Brian Quick this play was sort of like stealing candy from a baby, the cornerback had no chance without safety help to the inside.

Overall Sam Bradford may not have had an impressive outing in terms of raw statistics, but anytime your QB throws 3 TDs and zero interceptions he is having a good day.  I would give Bradford a solid A for his efforts in Houston.  While the team didn’t ask much of Bradford on Sunday, he more than delivered with some great veteran QB play.  Bradford’s statistics so far this season don’t blow you out of the water but consider that only 4 QBs have more TDs than he does after week 6: Peyton Manning (22), Drew Brees (14), Philip Rivers (14) and Tony Romo (14) with only Manning having thrown fewer INTs (2).  He is also currently on pace to throw for 3800+ yards 34 TDs and only 8 INTs, that +26 TD/INT ratio would have tied both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in 2012 and trailed only Aaron Rodgers’ +31.  A couple of final thoughts this week the first from ESPN Stats and Information.  QBs with at least eight passes, two touchdowns and no incompletions against at least five rushers since the start of 2008: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and … Sam Bradford.  Also according to the Wall Street Journal Sam Bradford’s current 19 game streak without multiple INTs is the NFL’s longest active streak.  Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!!

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