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Sep 19, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws a 1 yard touchdown pass as Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (97) pressures during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Redskins 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Comeback Player of 2014: Sam Bradford vs Robert Griffin III


Given the tone of many reports in the media over the last few months, it seems Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a virtual lock to win 2014’s comeback player of the year award even before the first snap of the season. Even if we ignore the media hype that has always surrounded RGIII, there are many valid reasons to suppose this may be the case. The NFC East looks to be a two-horse race between Washington and Philadelphia, and with only the league’s 17th toughest schedule despite playing everyone from the NFC West, there will be plenty of opportunities for Griffin to shine. One player who may challenge Griffin for this particular accolade is of course St Louis’ own Sam Bradford. What are Bradford’s chances?

A superficial glance may tell us that Bradford seems to be fighting a losing battle. In numerous areas, his stats come out second-best compared to Griffin’s: Overall quarterback rating (79.3 – 91.5), completion percentage (58.6 – 62.7) and average yards per pass (6.3 – 7.5) being among the more striking ones. Griffin also averages over 46 rushing yards per game, compared to a meagre 5 for Bradford. Does this mean Griffin is the superior player, therefore more likely to have a better 2014? Not necessarily.

Prior to his injury, Sam Bradford was on course for the best season of his young career in 2013. In many key areas including passing yards per game (241), quarterback rating (90.9) and completion percentage (60.7) he was noticeably ahead of previous seasons – and very much in the same area as Griffin’s numbers. This suggests Bradford is quite capable of performing at the same level. Bradford’s detractors will, at this point, undoubtedly be jumping up and down in their eagerness to point out that many of Bradford’s stat-boosting drives were late on in games where St Louis were staring defeat squarely in the face. The counter-argument to that is simple: Bradford still has to make those throws, complete those passes, keep those drives alive. Did Atlanta simply allow the Rams two fourth-quarter touchdowns out the goodness of their hearts in week two? Did San Francisco give Bradford a ‘sympathy’ touchdown pass in week four? Of course not. These points still had to be earned, and earn them Bradford did. The comeback efforts may not have resulted in wins, but to completely disregard this portion of Bradford’s overall numbers as some kind of garbage-time sideshow is as foolish as is it disrespectful.

If Sam Bradford’s numbers were on the rise before his season was prematurely ended, the opposite is true of Robert Griffin III. His quarterback rating plummeted from 102.4 in 2012 to 82.2 last season. Despite playing two games fewer in his second season than his first, he threw more than double the number of interceptions in 2013. Griffin’s completion percentage also dropped off, from 65.6 to 60.1. He registered an excellent seven rushing touchdowns in 2012, yet he managed none at all in 2013. Much of Griffin’s appeal is his speed and athleticism. Griffin’s successful rookie season two years ago was built on his ability to use his natural speed to make space and either make a pass or take off downfield himself. In October 2013 Peter King of MMQB.com wrote in an excellent article “It’s clear that [Griffin] lacks the same burst and change-of-direction quickness that defined his rookie season.” Therein lies the crucial difference between RGIII and Sam Bradford. Bradford possesses natural ability as a classic pocket passer that Griffin simply does not have. Where Bradford has been let down is by under-performing receivers and restrictive offensive scheming.

In summary, 2013 saw Sam Bradford on the rise while Robert Griffin III’s stock fell considerably. Griffin arguably relies on his legs just as much than his arm, and if his knee proves to be not what it was prior to the major injury he may never fulfil his potential. That being the case, who is to say that a fully fit Sam Bradford will not eclipse the former Baylor man in the race to be the comeback player of 2014?

Tags: Featured Popular Sam Bradford St. Louis Rams

  • trinity

    The difference is that Griffin has shown signs of greatness. he exploded out of the gate and was better than Andrew luck in his rookie season, then had a terrible sophomore season where he wasn’t 100%. 2 years in the league. Meanwhile, Bradford has been here since 2010, and has never shown that sign of greatness. For his entire career, he’s only ever been hurt or mediocre. Because of RG3′s rookie season, most people are convinced that the redskins have a franchise quarterback who just has to keep growing. And because of Bradford’s career so far, many people aren’t even convinced that the rams have a franchise quarterback, and they’re right to question that. I have a lot more faith in Griffin than I do in Bradford at this point.

  • jj

    In bradfords defense, shit happens. His first season was a bit odd because he put up decent numbers with a mediocre o line, no recievers but amendola, and the fact he was a rookie. He did well enough for the rams to see that they had something special but didnt know what exactly. The next season, they change coordinators, shuffle low ball recievers for a few more, and shuffle around more olineman. The next year, same crap. Seattle and san fran have done a great job in keeping its same good players together with colin and russell to maintain that relationship. Bradford has seen more movement in the locker room that the dmv.

    • Natedogg265

      Good QBs don’t come with excuses.

      • Calvin G Suddeath

        In your world it’s all about the quarterback.Forget about the other 52 players.

        • Natedogg265

          They get the big checks for a reason.

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            That’s a bad reason because the Ravens proved how lame that reasoning is.

          • Natedogg265

            You just proved my point. He won a Superbowl and got paid and now gets criticized. Bradford got paid, no ring and you think he shouldn’t be criticized. lol

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            Actually the only thing to laugh about is your assumption that I am talking about Flacco when I am talking about Trent Difer.Class Dismissed.

          • Natedogg265

            I’m not sure what you think you’ve proven. Sam is still a bust.

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            What I have proven is that you think you know more than Fisher(not so) and at it takes a team effort as in the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.Let us not forget,look at what happened to Atlanta when they lost both of their receivers and had OL problems.How are you going to feel when Bradford proves you wrong?

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    Funny how people forget about ROY honors for 2010.Selective memory.

  • jj

    No they dont come with excuses, because they’re put into teams with above average players. The only above average players in 2010 were steven jackson and chris long. Rams were able to get bradford with the first pick for a reason

    • Calvin G Suddeath

      You are wasting your time trying to reason with the “Quarterback Only Watcher”crowd.

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    As I read the comments from this OP one thing become abundantly clear,there are two posters who frequently post a lot of negative drivel about Bradford particularly when Fansided brings up questions about his tenure as a Ram.In comparing the two quarterbacks,their first two years are similiar as both quarterbacks made both teams competitive and both were injured in their second year and tried to play which didn’t help either team and both teams collapsed in the second year.I am not going to claim that I know more then a Redskin follower but from what I’ve seen,they had more talent than the Rams during their second year collapse however both coaches were fired.It has been stated clearly by most football people that the Rams have retooled perfectly in Fishers 2 plus seasons and this off season.Two of the key areas that the Rams have upgraded was the receiving corp an area of contention for the last 6 years and the OL.The fact that numberous football think that the Rams are doing a good job per football people and the fact that Fisher clearly stated that the issue with Bradford was his supporting cast(see continued upgrades at the skilled positions and OL) show that his knowledge outweighs all the negative nonsense that these armchair people keep spewing.What we have here is a bunch of fair weather impatient fans