Oct 20, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) runs with the ball and is injured on the play against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A Fan's Reflection On Sam Bradford: The NFL's Unluckiest Player?


 

Cast your mind back to the final game of Sam Bradford’s rookie season. The Rams are on the road in Seattle, two scores down with ten minutes to go. Bradford throws an inch-perfect deep pass to Danario Alexander. The receiver is clear of the last defensive back and if he takes it through for what looks like an inevitable touchdown, St Louis arguably have the time and momentum to come back and beat the Seahawks to clinch the NFC West title. As it happens, Alexander lets the ball go straight through his hands and the Rams season is over.

That moment remains the closest that the Rams have got to the post-season since Bradford was drafted first overall in 2010. The play has festered in my mind ever since – partly because I nearly blew both quadriceps jumping off my sofa thinking the Rams were about to get a crucial score, but mainly because it completely typifies the problems Sam Bradford has encountered in his years with the St Louis Rams. Just when Bradford finds himself thinking ‘maybe this time’, luck goes against him.

Bad luck in the form of an ACL tear brought a premature end to Bradford’s 2013 season. Prior to the injury, Bradford had career-high numbers in terms of completion percentage, passing yards per game and overall QB rating. He was well on course to smash previous tallies for touchdown passes and total yardage. And all this despite the single biggest stroke of bad luck Bradford has to overcome – the continuance of the Brian Schottenheimer offense. The Rams drafted Brian Quick high in 2012 to be the big, athletic deep-threat receiver the team was missing. Though more natural in the slot, Tavon Austin’s electrifying speed makes him just as much of a downfield threat. Both remain woefully underused. Drafting Quick and Austin and putting them into this offensive scheme is like giving Sam Bradford the keys to a Ferrari, then telling him he’s not allowed to drive over 35 miles an hour. It is a total waste of potential.

Injuries, inconsistency at offensive coordinator, poor play design by that coordinator, holes in the offensive line, errors by receivers at crucial times – there is a list a mile long of things that have gone against Bradford. Surely no-one’s luck can be this bad for this long? I remain convinced the former number one overall draft pick has the arm and the talent to take St Louis back to the playoffs. He has an improved line, talented young receivers, a reliable running back and a solid defense to support him. Maybe, just maybe, 2014 can be the year when Sam Bradford finally has some good luck.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: St. Louis Rams

  • Dustin

    I BELIEVE IN BRADFORD!!.. I’ve always thought he’s had the skill set.. Now he has the talent around him, but I must say I have 0 faith in Shotty as a coordinator.

    • Natedogg265

      There is always an excuse in the pocket every preseason we have Bradford.

  • trinity

    In other words, it’s everyone’s fault except Bradford? That’s crazy. And false, because he’s looked as unimpressive himself as his past recievers have. This will be a telling year for him. We will find out about Bradford once and for all.

    • Nathan Kearns

      You statement is contradictory:

      “he’s looked as unimpressive himself as his past recievers have”

      Greg Salas, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton. Aside from Danny (maybe) all of these players are either buried on another team’s depth chart or not in the league anymore. Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander have both done respectable things, but neither could stay healthy in St. Louis, which has nothing to do with the quarterback.

      • trinity

        It’s not contradictory, it only means that it wasn’t all on his recievers. Some of it was Sam’s fault as well, and that’s just fact. There is always an excuse for Sam Bradford apologists. It doesn’t matter though, because it all comes down to this season. The pieces are there now, and there are no more excuses for him. You will know without a doubt whether or not you have a franchise quarterback this season. I don’t think you do. We’ll see if he proves me right or wrong.

  • seann

    I think sam is the man that can take us to the playoffs. we r just now putting a team around him .I would still like a #1 wr but I think we can get it done with what we have. we need some wr that don’t drop eveything

  • Natedogg265

    I think he has the potential to be a good QB. He has lacked a little heart at times (checkdown Sam), but I get the sense he won’t have that problem this year. If you watch the Rams 2013 highlights you can see his arm is legit. I think Shotty finally learned how to work with Tavon late in the season. If they show balance, this team will be rugged.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Not sure what “checkdowns” have to do with heart. I tend to shy away from judging character when we really only see snip-its of these players and their reactions on the field. More than enough people have backed Bradford’s leadership, “heart,” and determination, including Steven Jackson.

      However, I understand your “excuses” frustration, and truly believe this is the show me-or-get out year for the young signal caller!

      • Natedogg265

        Judging on the field character is what we all do. He throws to the checkdown way too much. As for his backing, the owner went “all in” on Bradford and everyone knows what to say in that situation. Production is what counts.

        I was never in his corner, but actually started to come around last year. We’ll see.

        • Nathan Kearns

          Still struggling to see the correlation between throwing to checkdown option and lacking “heart”… seems like a nonsensical conclusion bases off of an extremely flawed premise

          • Natedogg265

            He looks scared out there and just gets rid of the ball.

          • Gary Stewart

            maybe i can help the checkdown is a shotty thing they never protected bradford ( thus the checkdiwn to keep bradfors from getting killed) yet shotty wants the rams signal caller to protect the ball so instead of a 3 yard check down on 3rd and 8 at the 25 lets encourage bradford to heave it 50 yards downfield if we catch it great, if we get an interference great, if its incomplete let our pro bowl punter punt it away and if its intercepted tackle him its like a 50 yard punt all these choices sound better than check down play safe and punt. the heart comes in when standing in the face of the rush to get off that 50 yard pass when a couple of those plays succeed the defenses will have to respect the deep ball on any down and at any distance!!

  • Nathan Kearns

    His “unluckiness,” in terms of surrounding talent and incompetency of coaches, has been astronomical. Analysts and pundits were talking last year about how Tony Romo didn’t have enough offensive weapons, even with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten… that sounds horrible (sarcasm).

    …however, it is hard to call Bradford unlucky financially, since he stay in the record books as the highest-paid rookie in the history of the NFL. And, thanks to those unlucky happenings, he will be going into his fifth season as the starter, still making Top 15 QB money, without the Top 15 QB performance.

    With that said, GO BRADFORD!

  • Gary Stewart

    bradford is not the unluckiest but rather the luckiest qb in rams history!! he has not had to earn his 78 million dollar contract in part because it was acceptable for him to always have issues due to poor players and coaching that was sub par as long as the rams keep shotty bradford will have that excuse built in. however the personnel issue is gone they beefed up the line got a running game added weapons in the passing game and strengthened the defense it is time for this LUCKY SOB to pay us back for our loyalty. btw the only other logical choice back in 2010 was suh who has the most cap unfriendly contract in football. when the rams chose bradford i was all for it and whatever you think of my post let me assure you i am firmly in bradfords corner cause he is all we got and i believe he can get it done and while suh has been a better pro he has not proven to be a better leader !!

  • Corey

    Compare what mark sanchez had in ny while in the schotty system to what bradford has in the same (slighty tweeked but still shitty) system. They made it to 2 (i think) afc championship games and their defense was about as good as ours is now. So someone has obviously succeeded somewhat through whatever bullshit schotty can put the through but for much of bradfords career he has lacked the pieces sanchez had in ny so i place blame souly on the fisher and snead for allowing these offensive woes to continue. I understand the philosophy pov but theres gotta come a time where u give that up for more efficiency and points. There is such a thing as controlling the ball, clock and the ground game with a spread/more flexible style playbook. Its pathetic watching the calls and formations being showcased. Reminds me of college football in the 90s. Anytime your oc calls for a back shoulder fade with one second left on the gl against your bitter rival with two players who are average at best you have to question his decision making….point is i hate schotty but i blame snisher for allowing him to continue and in no way really blame bradford. And i thought we shouldve drafted watkins and dropped pettis and veltung and let everyone else fight it out. Doesnt hurt to have depth. Then draft a t late 1st or in 2nd rd

  • David cox

    This is the best article about Sam Bradford I’ve seen. The funny thing is Sam is not making any excuses so everybody is dogging him for no reason. Comparing us to the Jets is really ridiculous because we would’ve already made the playoffs twice to with Sam Bradford if we played in that division. I would not let Brian Schottenheimer call my kids junior high football game. Plus football is a team sport so why is everybody blaming one player one position?