Last night at Rams park, Jeff Fisher stood on a dias and told roughly 2,000 season ticket holders that all the talk about John Manziel was a smokescreen. That Sam Bradford was “…our starter, as you guys know…”.
#Ramziel mania was over before it even got started. RIP Johnny STL.
Sam Bradford is going to lead the Rams to somewhere in 2014. It’s absolutely mind blowing – at least to me – that the one position you need to win in the NFL… the one position that has a chance to save football in St. Louis – is going to be left, again, to a player who has questionable upside and a tremendous downside.
Sorry, not sorry. The Rams need a spark. They need an energy. They have 2 years left on a lease and a fan base that’s apathetic. Just the talk of #Ramziel alone these past few days should have opened some eyes at Rams Park to the possibility that make or break as a player in St. Louis, Johnny Football was at least going to garner interest. Possibly a ton of interest.
But the Rams aren’t in the entertainment business, right? No, you’re right. The past 10 years have made that particularly clear.
Team Bradford, won. Again.
Doesn’t mean that we have to accept all the arguments about why this is a good thing. In fact, the three most popular arguments to keep Sammy B. as the starter all have some pretty serious flaws.
ARGUMENT 1: “Give him some TIME people!”
Here’s a list of QB’s that have been selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft that were either in or after Sam Bradford’s class.
- Tim Tebow (Broncos) – Out of football
- Jake Locker (Titans) – 2015 option not picked up
- Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) - Traded to be a backup
- Christian Ponder (Vikings) – 2015 option not picked up
- Brandon Weeden (Browns) – Released and signed to be Cowboys backup
That’s 5 out of 32 teams that were in the same position the Rams were and have either decided to move on or are in the process of moving on. None of these players were the burden on the salary cap that Bradford is to the Rams.
Maybe St. Louis is baseball town that can’t separate the realities of the NFL versus MLB. The NFL is a cut-throat operation that doesn’t give young players the time to develop. More simply – you are who you are when you enter the NFL. This isn’t baseball where you’re groomed for success later. Produce now or move on.
Or if you don’t want to spend a whole bunch of time debunking this argument, you can simply point out that Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were both drafted after Sam Bradford.
ARGUMENT 2: “He needs a better supporting cast.”
Here’s Grantland’s Bill Barnwell:
“In 2014, Bradford’s cap hit balloons to $17.6 million. With just two years left on his deal, most of Bradford’s enormous signing bonus has already been counted for on St. Louis’s cap. If the Rams were to cut or trade Bradford, they would only incur $7.2 million of dead money charges on their cap next season. That means that moving on from Bradford would release $10.4 million in cap space for the Rams in 2014 while taking Bradford off the cap altogether for 2015.”
You know what ever QB needs? A better supporting cast. Tom Brady probably didn’t think ‘Hey, alright, Danny Amendola! We’re set!’ at the start of the 2013 season. But somehow the Patriots managed to win their division and go 12-4. You know, with the WR cast off from the Rams playing a pretty big part.
But put that aside.
And focus on the fact that the NFL has a salary cap. And when one player eats up a HUGE chunk of that cap, it’s really hard to put a better cast around him. So, while I’ll grant you that Bradford needs a better ‘cast’, you’ll have to admit that it’s kind of hard to hire one when he’s sucking up almost 14% of the total available dollars to the Rams to provide said cast.
ARGUMENT 3: “He was doing so well last year before he got hurt!”
Statistics can always be deceiving.
Bradford’s line of 14 TDs/4 INTs/ 1,687 YDs/ 90.9 QBR in 7 games is good. There is no doubt about it. Extrapolated over an entire season, you’ve got yourself a nice little season going.
Those 7 games were against teams with a combined record of 52-60. Only 3 were wins and those wins came against Jacksonville (4-12), Houston (2-14) and Arizona (10-6) or a combined 16-32.
So 3-4 with 2 of those wins coming against 2 of the worst teams in the NFL isn’t as impressive.
Against the best teams? 19-41 with 1 TD and 1 INT against the 49ers (59 QBR). 21-30 with 1 TD and 1 INT against Carolina (93 QBR). By far, Bradford’s best game against a winning team was in WK1 when he was 27-38 with 2 TDs and 1 INT for a 100.7 QBR.
So… against WINNING teams in 2013, Bradford was:
- 67-109 (61% completion percentage)
- 4 TDs
- 3 INTs
- 84.3 QBR
That’s the BEST case scenario you can lay out for Bradford in his make or break season. He was decent against the 3 best teams he faced. But losses to the Falcons and Cowboys kind of negate any goodwill those numbers might engender.
In short, Bradford was having a really AVERAGE season before he got hurt. Good is stretching it, unless our standards are really low.
In short, Bradford is a good guy. He hasn’t done anything to embarrass the Rams or St. Louis in his time here. But he’s a relic in the new era of the NFL… a pocket passer that has a huge cap number.
Worse, he’s playing for a team that hasn’t had a winning season in a decade and is flanked by the 2 2013 NFC Championship game participants in his division.
The Rams won’t draft a QB in Round 1 of the NFL Draft tonight. But it’s probably time we started looking to the top of the 2015 draft board to see what QBs are available.