Whether it be Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell, or a name that St. Louis Rams fans are all too familiar with, Jason Smith, high draft picks get labeled as busts if they don’t produce. Over the past two years, many Rams fans have been labeling quarterback Sam Bradford as a bust and saying that he wasn’t the answer.
Well now, I say to you naysayers, you got what you wanted. Sam Bradford tore his ACL for a second time in 38 snaps and will likely never play another snap in a St. Louis Rams uniform. Heck, he will be lucky to ever play football again.
When all is said and done, some fans and experts will still label Bradford as a bust, and in a way you might be right. Bradford had a losing record as a starter and never took the Rams where he was expected to. Bradford never lived up to the hype and became only an average quarterback.
As a Sam Bradford supporter, I firmly believe that Bradford was simply a victim of bad luck. A quarterback who never got the opportunity to fully unleash what he had, and when he finally did get that opportunity, it was too late.
Like it or not, in his rookie season under terrible coaching by Steve Spagnuolo, Bradford took this team as close to the playoffs as they have been in the past decade, bringing them one game away. In the three years before Bradford the Rams had only won six games. In Bradford’s first season he won seven games, won rookie of the year, and gave Rams fans a small taste of the playoffs.
In both years under “Spags”, Bradford had two different offensive coordinators which is tough on any young player. In the second year is when a young player is really supposed to take off, Bradford had to start over and learn a whole new offense with Josh McDaniels instead of Pat Shurmur. Not to mention Bradford had no offensive weapons at this point.
Bradford then got his third offensive coordinator in as many years when Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer came to town, and even in a new system, Bradford once again gave this franchise promise going undefeated in a very difficult NFC west division and coming one game away from a winning record.
People call Bradford injury prone, and that may be, but in two of his first three years, he played two full seasons, and even in the season in which he hurt his ankle, he showed toughness playing in ten games while the Rams went on to a 2-14 record. Did Bradford have to play? No. Instead he fought through the pain and the tough season with his teammates showing that he was the leader of this team.
Finally in his fourth season, Bradford had the same offensive coordinator for consecutive years, and it showed as he went on to have career numbers. That is until the nightmare hit St. Louis and Bradford tore his ACL for the first time on what was a fluke play.
Bradford was pulled down by Mike Mitchell as he was headed out-of-bounds and just watching you could tell he was in serious pain as his knee buckled.
However, Bradford was on a mission to come back and be 100%. The Rams would have a healthy Tavon Austin, a much improved Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, and Zac Stacy. All players that would give Bradford the best supporting cast in his career.
2014 finally looked like the year Bradford would be able to put it all together and prove that he was worthy of the number one overall pick. The fifth year quarterback looked like he was starting right where he left off completing almost 62% of his passes while throwing for 178 yards and a touchdown. He had the seventh highest overall grade on Pro Football Focus.
Bradford looked like he had developed quite a chemistry with Quick and Britt and was, for the first time in his career, throwing the ball with confidence and trusting his receivers to go up and make the play…And then it happened.
On second and seven from the Cleveland Browns’ 12-yard line Bradford dropped back to pass and threw a ball that fell short and incomplete to his tight end Jared Cook. After the play Bradford layer on the turf, but was able to get up and walk off the field which made it seem like the quarterback would be fine.
Later however, we found out that Bradford tore the same ACL that he tore last October against the Carolina Panthers and would be out for the entire season. Once again, Bradford was a victim of bad luck, and was unfairly described as injury prone. Meanwhile, the left tackle that the Rams are paying $34-million simply got dominated on the play and allowed Bradford to get hit, and got off without any criticism.
Bradford’s future with the Rams, and the league for that matter is up in the air. A second ACL tear is difficult to come back from both physically and mentally, especially given how much work Bradford had put in to get back to 100%.
If Bradford’s last completed pass as a Ram is a 36-yard strike to Kenny Britt on third and 25, we should not remember Bradford as a bust. Yes, he got paid lots of money, but so were all rookies before the rookie salary cap was in place the year after Bradford was drafted.
So was this Sam Bradford’s last completion as a St. Louis Ram? https://t.co/P3O2VUCuat
— Daniel Doelling (@Daniel_Doelling) August 24, 2014
The worst part about this whole situation is that fans and experts are going to remember Bradford as a bust, but in reality he is a quarterback who had all the potential to be great, but came to a team who simply wasn’t ready for him and gave him a career’s worth of difficult circumstances.
At the end of the day you have to feel for Sam and wonder what he could have been on a different team. Sam Bradford put in all the work that a leader and franchise quarterback should, unfortunately, it just never came together in St. Louis.
Is Sam Bradford a bust? Not in my book.