St. Louis Rams Sam Bradford vs. Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco: What is an elite QB?

Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has been a polarizing figure among Rams fans since he was drafted with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft.  Some fans wanted the Rams to go with the dominant defense lineman out of Nebraska instead of the former Heisman Trophy winning QB from Oklahoma with a questionable shoulder.  The Rams went with Bradford largely because this is a QB driven league and you don’t win consistently without a franchise QB.  Expectations are high for a former Heisman trophy winning QB selected first in the draft, and they may change ones perspective of that players performance.  Joe Flacco on the other hand was the 18th overall choice of the 2008 draft out of the University of Delaware, who surprised many by getting the starting gig as a rookie and leading the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs.  During Bradford’s rookie season he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award as he took a 1-15 team and turned it into a 7-9 team that narrowly missed the playoffs.  Joe Flacco led the Ravens to the AFC Championship game as a rookie.  Since then Flacco has lead the Ravens to the playoffs every season and of course has them playing in the Super Bowl this weekend.  There has been a lot of conversation among the NFL talking heads about whether or not Flacco is an elite QB.  Many of these same NFL experts have openly questioned whether Sam Bradford is the answer for the St. Louis Rams.  I personally believe that Sam Bradford has done more with less during his time in St. Louis than any reasonable person could have expected, the team he lead to 7 wins during his rookie year was seriously short on talent and quality coaching.  I do believe we need to see more from Sam to validate that lofty draft status and guaranteed money, but considering how the Rams franchise had been managed over the 4 or 5 years before Sam arrived and the talent on the roster it is fair to cut him a little slack isn’t it?  So onto the real Joe Flacco vs. Sam Bradford comparison.  I was checking out the preview for the Superbowl on the ESPN page and couldn’t help but notice how familiar Flacco’s 2012 regular season statistics looked, so I quickly jumped to the statistics page so I could compare Flacco and Bradford’s numbers but before we cover the numbers lets consider each players supporting cast, we will look at each teams top 3 wide receivers, top tight end and running backs.

#1 Wide ReceiverAnquan BoldinBrandon Gibson
#2 Wide ReceiverTorry SmithDanny Amendola
#3 Wide ReceiverJacoby JonesChris Givens
Tight EndDennis PittaMatt Mulligan
Running BackRay RiceSteven Jackson
FullbackVonta LeachLance Kendricks

The surprising thing here is that Lance Kendricks is listed on the Rams depth chart as the Fullback, but they did use him as a fullback nearly as often as he lined up on the end of the line.  Unless you are a really delusional fan you would pretty much have to give the Ravens supporting cast the advantage at every position.  The closest competitions would be Jones vs. Givens and Rice vs. Jackson, and as promising as I think Givens is Jones is just more polished at this point.  If I were to compare Jackson and Rice in their primes I would lean towards SJ39 of course, but Jackson isn’t in his prime anymore while Rice is right smack in the middle of his.  Vonta Leach is arguably the best Fullback in the NFL, while Boldin is a very physical receiver with excellent hands, and every Rams fan knows Torry Smith is the most dangerous deep threat in the NFL.  So naturally you would expect Joe Flacco to have numbers well above Bradford’s based on the supporting cast, as well as the general perception among the media and of course that the Ravens are in the Superbowl.

2012 Regular SeasonSam BradfordJoe Flacco

I am not trying to imply that Sam Bradford is better than Joe Flacco or that Flacco is over rated in any way.  I think that what Flacco has managed to do coming out of Delaware has been very impressive.  Instead I am trying to point out how much expectations can cloud ones judgement when it comes to athletes.  Of course winning also helps to shape the medias perspective of you, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that QBs are the primary reason you win or lose a football game, football is the ultimate team sport and winning on a consistent basis requires a good team.  Yes good quarterbacks can help to compensate for deficiencies, but I believe Bradford has done that during his tenure with the Rams.  Here is to hoping that Sam Bradford and the Rams turn a corner next season, and we wont have any more Rams fans or members of the media throwing around the term bust.  Thank you for reading and as always Go Rams!!!