Analysis: The Curious Case of Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford could very well be one of the most frustrating quarterbacks in the league. One game he is throwing 50 yard darts to receivers in stride, and the next he is throwing balls 20 feet over the heads of his targets. Consistency has not befriended the third year quarterback. Let’s take a look.Sam Bradford

It all started back in 2010, when Bradford was drafted first overall by the Rams. The super prospect went on a tear his rookie year throwing for 3,512 yards and completing 60% of his passes. He guided the Rams to a 7-9 record (only one win away from the playoffs); erasing some of the mediocrity the franchise had built up after several dismal seasons. When it was all said and done, he had broken several rookie quarterback records and brought home the NFC rookie of the year honors.

Then as the expectations shot towards the young QB in 2011, everything came crumbling down. A nagging ankle injury limited Bradford to only 10 games in which he threw for a mediocre 2,164 yards and completed only 53.5% of his passes to go along with a measly 6 touchdowns. The rest of the team regressed alongside Bradford as they posted a measly 2-14 record. Although Bradford was plagued by inconsistency at offensive line and a dreadful receiving corps, one could still expect much more from him after his freshman campaign.

After a franchise overhaul by the new regime of Coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead, Bradford remained as the signal caller in St. Louis as the Rams passed on a chance at college studs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The receiving corps was injected with some new life and the offensive line brought in several new faces. Rams fans hoped to see more of the 2010 Bradford that looked like a future franchise QB. Through 10 games, the results have been quite mixed.

Bradford is averaging 224 passing yards a game, which is good for 20th in the NFL. He’s passed for up to 315 yards in a game, but he has also passed for as little as 141 yards. If anything, one would hope to see numbers that are closer to his average and eliminate the overload of outliers.

When you look at Bradford’s completion percentages in games, the inconsistency continues. His completion percentage has maxed out at a superb 74.3%, but he also has thrown for a crummy 33.3%. Right now, he sits at an average completion percentage of 60.8% for the season. Again, fans would like to see his numbers be closer to that number week to week.

One more puzzlingly inconsistent statistic is his QBR throughout this season. He has thrown for an amazing 82.0, but has also posted a terrible 3.9 QBR. That my friends is one hell of a range. His season QBR sits at 50.4, which is outstandingly average considering that a 50.0 is the mark set for an average QB.

The situation becomes more puzzling when you look at some of the teams Bradford has excelled against compared to the teams he has struggled facing. That 82.0 QBR came against San Francisco, the number two total defense in the league. On the other hand, he posted a low 24.0 QBR yesterday against a depleted Jets defense. One must wonder how Bradford can carve up one of the best defenses in the league, but fall flat on his face against a mediocre one.

If that was not enough for you though, I have one more curveball for you. In the 4 games Bradford has passed for an above average QBR, the Rams are only 1-2-1. In the other two wins the Rams have put up this year, Bradford has posted QBR’s of 38.6 and 47.2. That means the Rams are actually losing games in which Bradford is playing well. That is a bit odd, eh?

Sam BradfordEverything about Sam Bradford’s situation is odd. He plays good and loses, but completes 33.3% of his passes and wins (see Arizona game). He looks like Peyton Manning one game, but like an 8 year old in pads the next. If Bradford could be somewhere in the middle more often, the third year QB’s luck could take a turn for the better.

To sum everything up, there is no denying that Bradford has the tools to be a great QB. He has shown that he has all the ability in the world, but he has not been able to put it all together week in and week out. If Bradford can find some consistency, the NFL better watch out. However, until that point, we are left to wonder which Sam Bradford will show up on game day.

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