Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St. Louis Rams: 1st Half Report Card for Sam Bradford

With nearly half of the season underway and with five games completed so far for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, let's take a look at what he has done this season by grading his individual games as well as his overall grade so far in 2011.

Rams vs. Eagles  Grade: D+

During week one, Bradford took a lot of abuse in the backfield from Jason Babin and the Philadelphia Eagle's defensive line. He was sacked four times. Also, the dangerous cornerback duo of Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuels held him and the receivers in check as he had only 188 yards and completion percentage of 56.7.

Though his ability to move the ball was hindered, he still did not throw any interceptions, although he did cough up a fumble that resulted in an Eagles' touchdown. Not a good start to the season by Bradford.

Rams at Giants  Grade: A

With Steven Jackson absent from the game with a quad injury, the Rams were forced to make their offense one-dimensional, but Bradford answered to the challenge.

Bradford helped receiver Danario Alexander complete a breakout game with 122 yards and touchdown. Bradford was not bad himself with 331 passing yards and touchdown with no interceptions, resulting in a very solid outing despite a 28-16 loss.

Rams vs Ravens  Grade: C-

Bradford was harassed in the backfield with five total sacks and he had no support from his defense in a 37-7 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Bradford threw his first interception of the year, but that came as a result of Danario Alexander tripping during his route and missing an accurate pass. Bradford also had only 166 yards and completed only 50 percent of his passes.

However, what saved his game was a beautiful spiral over the heads of the Baltimore defenders that was perfectly placed in the hands of Brandon Gibson for a 34-yard touchdown. It was arguably the best throw of his career and a clear reminder of why he was drafted No. 1 overall.   

Rams vs Redskins  Grade: D

This was most likely Bradford's worst game of the season. He completed only 47.8 percent of his passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Bradford once again avoided any interceptions, which is pretty remarkable considering he was smothered in the pocket all day thanks to an overwhelmed offensive line that allowed seven sacks. But it wasn't just the offensive line, Bradford was also hurt by his receivers, particularly Mike Sims-Walker, who dropped multiple passes.

Overall it was still a bad game for Sam. He held the ball too long at times, showed little pocket awareness and missed open receivers on a few occasions.

Rams at Packers  Grade: B+

Bradford's game against the Packers was a solid outing, but you wouldn't know it from glancing at the 24-3 score.

Despite the score, Bradford moved the ball well and was in sync with slot receiver Greg Salas (seven catches, 77 yards). He was able to hook up with Danario Alexander for a 32 pass and Alexander finished with 91 total receiving yards. Other than Alexander and Salas, Bradford also got tight end Lance Kendricks involved in the passing game (71 yards).

Bradford finished the day with 328 passing yards and an interception. Penalties and a stiff defensive performance by Green Bay kept the Rams out of the end-zone all day, but it was still a respectable performance by the quarterback.


Bradford finished the 2010 season as one of only three rookie quarterbacks in history with over 3,000 passing yards. He also set the NFL record for completions (354) and was the offensive Rookie of the Year.

Given his rookie year, it's obvious that expectations were high for Bradford entering 2011, maybe even too high since the Rams were the popular preseason favorites to win the NFC West, but it wouldn't be fair to say that he has fallen completely short as far as meeting those expectations.

No quarterback is going to post gaudy numbers when their team is struggling greatly with penalties, dropped passes and poor offensive line play. Bradford hasn't been perfect either. He still needs to go through his reads rather than locking onto a single receiver and he needs to have better awareness in the pocket.

The Rams have a lot of holes on the team, such as defensive tackle, offensive line and outside linebacker, but Sam Bradford is not a reason for the Rams' losing.

When he returns from injury he'll be playing behind an offensive line that has seemingly turned a corner. He'll also have a true No. 1 receiver in Brandon Lloyd to throw to. The second half of the season should provide everyone with a much better gauge of where Bradford truly stands in his development.

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