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RamView: Preseason Week 3 – Quarterbacks

Is there such a thing as a big preseason game? It sure felt like it tonight, as the Rams’ starters outplayed New England’s, and the subs came through in the end, to claim a 36-35 victory. New ownership, brilliant new starting QB, new offensive coordinator apparently replaced by the aliens who kidnapped the old one… it looks like the future is now in Rams Nation, and it doesn’t look half bad.

Position by position:

* QB: Hard not to be excited about Sam Bradford (15-22-189, 2 TD, 125 passer rating) after a scintillating performance tonight against a blitz-heavy defense. With all due respect to the fairly-steady A.J. Feeley, Bradford should be the starter after tonight, should be starting Opening Day. He was FINALLY turned loose this week and made it pay off. A 32-yard zinger to Donnie Avery sparked the Rams’ first TD drive. Impressive velocity by Bradford, and an impressive catch by Avery, who I think was running post, but Bradford threw corner, so they met in the middle. Absolutely loved Bradford’s pocket presence tonight. He moved pretty well back there but especially stood tall with blitzers about to strike. His feet are good enough that he can scramble out of big trouble. Looks like he read the field all but perfectly. If he missed a blitz all night, it was on the play in the 1st that was briefly flagged for grounding. His overall composure was great. Billy Bajema and Laurent Robinson dropped passes on him in the 1st quarter but Sam didn’t get down. He got some of that karma back with Michael Hoomanawanui’s astounding, one-handed grab for 23 a little later. ANOTHER downfield throw. Bradford actually got sacked on one of his best plays of the night. A blitz was coming against an odd 4-wide formation, with the TEs lined up outside the receivers. Bradford’s looking for Bajema to cut off his route, but Billy’s not turning around, and Sam eats the ball. Why not throw that ball anyway? Plenty of rookies, hell, even veterans, would. And they’d get pick-sixed the other way by the corner sitting on the route. Maybe I’m too easily impressed, but eating the ball there was a fine, veteran-quality decision by Bradford there, saving his team 3 points. He led them to 7 more the next possession, leading Mardy Gilyard perfectly on a 3rd-and-3 slant pass for 10 (perfect time to call for a slant, btw), and then somehow finding Uh-Oh at the goal line, in a space surrounded by five Patriots, for another TD. I won’t say the name of the last Rams QB who could reliably make that kind of throw into a crowd. I’ve been warnered about getting caught up in hype. Bradford’s most-significant miscues came during his final drive. A sideline bomb (ANOTHER downfield throw!!!) came up a little short, and I think Avery was trying to adjust for it when his knee buckled. Bradford still hit several different receivers in the 2:00 drill, overcame a holding penalty, and hit Danny Amendola for 18 on 2nd-and-long to set up another Rams score. That would have been a TD had Bradford hit Robinson wide open at the 1-yard line with less than :10 left in the first half. That’s the one throw that got away from him tonight that his receiver couldn’t bring down. Shouldn’t lessen any of the excitement about Bradford’s play, though. His stats were for one half. He led the 1-15 Rams to a 20-14 lead on the road over a playoff team using all its starters. He overcame not only some penalties and dropped passes but his team going into a 7-0 hole 12 seconds into the game. He’s mentally tough, physically tough, strong-armed, mobile, and accurate; he learns from his mistakes, makes good decisions, isn’t overwhelmed by the game… Sure, regular season games are another step up from preseason games, but Start. Sam. Bradford. September 12th. That’s an order. Sorry I have to shortchange the Thaddeus Lewis – Keith Null battle, which got really interesting. Lewis (11-14-120, TD, 96.4 PR) started the second half, interesting enough by itself, and led the offense on a massive 15-play, 9-minute TD drive. He also showed Ryan Fitzpatrick-like ability to scramble out of trouble. Lewis can really make plays with his feet. He may have hurt himself, though, with a rushed, and terrible, pass in the 4th against a blitz that Brandon McGowan picked off to set up a TD. Keith Null (3-5-25, 72.9 PR) barely got to play the last 2:00, but did lead the 2:00 offense 40 yards to set up the game winning FG, with a key 3rd-down completion to Keenan Burton and a key roughing-the-passer penalty. Bradford, though, is the Rams’ main talking point after tonight, and could be for a long time.


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