All around St. Louis, opinions on Sam Bradford have been flying. Many people are ready to see him replaced by next season. I have already seen stores begin to mark down his jersey’s, as if they are expecting him to go. During the regular season, I have even had people look me in the eye and tell me that we should cut Bradford in favor of backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.
Now if you are one of these people, let me tell you the cold hard truth. Bradford is not leaving St. Louis anytime soon. I know that it’s painful to see younger guys like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton enjoy the success that Bradford has yet to taste, I get it. However when one actually looks at the facts, it’s hard to say with a straight face that Bradford is a bust.
Now at work, in class or even at your local coffee shop, you may encounter a poor soul that believes in his heart of hearts that Bradford needs to go. As an informed Rams fan, it is your job to politely inform them of the cold facts. Listed below are some common arguments about the validity of Sam Bradford as a starter along with an informed rebuttal for each one.
“Why did we suddenly start playing great football right after Sam Bradford got hurt? That obviously means that Bradford is hurting the team.”
At the beginning of the season, the Rams were coached to be a spread offense similar to where Bradford thrived in college. The offense was designed to be a pass first offense that would set up the run. While exciting in theory, it just wasn’t working for the team. The first four games also featured a run game that was subpar, to say the least.
The midseason “turnaround” didn’t happen because of the absence of Bradford, it happened because the Rams completely changed their philosophy. Running back Daryl Richardson lost the starting job to Zac Stacy who ended up running for almost 1,000 yards in the twelve games he suited up. The Rams turned into a team that runs to set up the pass. This was a successful model for the Rams and helped them beat a few team that they weren’t supposed to beat.
“Cutting Sam would save a lot of money”
If the Rams cut Bradford, we would indeed save a truckload of cash, 10.42 million dollars to be exact. They would also be flushing 7.19 million dollars down the toilet (i.e. dead money). Wasting that money would be a horrible move for the Rams and could lead to some firings in the front office. With so much investment in Bradford, ditching him when he seems right at the cusp of a breakout season would be deplorable.
“Other rookie quarterbacks have had success far faster than Bradford, in fact six quarterbacks drafted after Bradford made the playoffs just this season.”
Few things bother me more than people who judge quarterbacks based on wins. It makes me a little sick every time I hear a reference to an “epic quarterback duel.” The fact of the matter is that quarterbacks are not the only reason that teams win. Football is a team effort on all fronts.
Another thing to think about is that the team that drafted Bradford had one of the lowest talent levels in the league, along with being coached by Steve Spagnuolo (shudder). Once head coach Jeff Fisher took over, the team had to completely rebuild. Bradford was surrounded by inexperience. Any quarterback would see a significant drop in production in his situation.
“Look how good Kellen Clemens is, why don’t we just start him?”
That’s just the thing, Clemens just isn’t that good. In almost every category, Bradford bests Clemens. While Clemens definitely filled in effectively, and was relatively productive, the talent level just isn’t there. While Bradford throws the ball accurately most of the time, it’s a common sight to see Clemens just outright miss open receivers.
In 49 career “starts,” Sam Bradford has only had FIVE games where he threw for two interceptions or more; only ONE w/ three; NONE w/ four+
— Nathan Kearns (@nkearns12) January 14, 2014
The only advantage that Clemens has over Bradford is an excellent pocket awareness, and the ability to move throughout or outside the pocket effectively. Still though, there is a reason that Clemens nearly didn’t make the active roster this year, he just isn’t that good.
‘We have the number two overall pick, why don’t we use it to grab a guy like Manziel or Bridgewater?”
While both Manziel and Bridgewater look to be excellent prospects, there is just no reason to start over at this point. Before his injury, Bradford was in the middle of a career-best year. Now that Bradford is just finally coming into his own, why in the world would we scrap everything just to dive right into the rebuilding process. The Rams don’t want to deal with the growing pains of yet another rookie quarterback.