Things have not gone according to plan for quarterback Sam Bradford, Cherokee, or his St. Louis Rams. After winning last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and his help in turning a 1-15 team from 2009 into a 7-9 team in 2010, expectations were very high. So far, things are not going well.
The Rams are 0-5, and Bradford is currently mired 31st for all starting QBs in yards per attempt at 4.8 yards. The New York Times had an article out yesterday on how last year's numbers for Bradford weren't as good as advertised, and this year's aren't actually as bad as people think they are.
From the Times: "In other words, Bradford got too much credit last season for the Rams’ improvement to 7-9 from 1-15, and he shouldn’t be assigned too much of the blame this year. If anything, Bradford’s performance has been consistently mediocre in both seasons. That doesn’t mean he won’t become a star, just that he shouldn’t be called one until he has proved it."
The Times spoke with football writer Chase Stuart, who made the point that last year the Rams' passing offense actually finished ranked 30th in net yard per attempt, and had a very easy schedule (second easiest in the league) while having a surprisingly good defensive year, meaning Bradford's season wasn't as great as lots of people were saying it was. This year, however, the Rams have a very difficult schedule, and their defensive is not playing well, so their 0-5 start isn't as much Bradford's fault as people are making it out to be.
Bradford is very young, playing one of the toughest positions in all of sports (arguably the toughest, although hockey fans will tell you goalie is the hardest position) and has plenty of time to mature into a great quarterback. He's smart, calm, and tough. In last Sunday's 24-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Bradford sustained a notoriously painful high ankle sprain, and was in a walking boot only two days ago, yet he plans to start this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be interesting to see how Bradford responds to the difficulties he's facing this year, both on the field and in the press. Almost every quarterback in the NFL has to go through a fallow period (remember, Tom Brady rode the bench before becoming, well, Tom Brady), even the seemingly indestructible Peyton Manning hasn't played a snap this year due to a neck injury. It's our bet this young man will be resilient and get through this rough patch.
He'll deal, like every other quarterback in the league, with the fact that no matter how shallow his receiving corps is, or bad his defense is playing, wins and losses ultimately fall on the quarterback's shoulders.