Going into week #6 of the 2012 season the St Louis Rams are sitting pretty at 3-2. I attribute this record to great coaching, great game preparation, and a great pass defense. I know I’ve been critical of our offensive weapons and in particular Sam Bradford. So I decided to look at the numbers and see how good or bad our QB is really performing.
One of the first things I looked at is our offensive line’s current power ranking. In pass protection its ranked 29th in the league (that’s right at the bottom). In run blocking we are ranked 25th (also near the bottom). In regards to the run Steven Jackson is ranked 18th in the NFL. That doesn’t sound so bad, but in 5 games he has only rushed for 271 yards. That’s an average 54 yards per game, 3.5 yards per carry, and zero TDs. So, lots of pressure has been laid upon the passing game and Mr Bradford.
Next, I decided to take a look at the quality of receivers Bradford has to throw to. I am fairly close to all of this so I know Bradford does have 1 highly ranked receiver; Danny Amendola. Amendola is ranked 13th in the NFL. He has done it all for the Rams. He has caught the deep ball and he has also been a great outlet receiver. Problem is he just separated his clavicle and is out 4-8 weeks (of course this doesn’t affect Bradford in prior weeks). The next ranked Rams receiver is Brand Gibson who is tied for 75th place just ahead of the 1-3 Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore. The Rams receiving corps are an inexperienced bunch of young athletes who are getting better as the season progresses.
Now that we have painted a back ground, we can look at Mr Bradford himself. Sam Bradford is ranked 28th in the NFL. In 2012 he has thrown 159 passes for 916 yards (5.7 yards per pass). He has thrown 6 TDs and 5 interceptions (yikes), but he has also been sacked 15 times. He has a QB Rating of 78.6 which is his best (annual) rating since entering the NFL. Here’s where we step back from the stats. The 5.7 yards per catch is more a function of the Rams offensive scheme. The first 3 games of the year most passing plays (called by coaches) were short yardage slot passes. When you only have one prolific receiver and a predictable offensive scheme, you are going to have problems that can’t be blamed on your QB. Having a solid #2 WR and play calling that spreads the field opens up opportunities and options Bradford has simply not had. Finally, since joining the Rams and the NFL in 2010 Sam has been sacked 85 times.
Ok, I guess some of that was background too. From 10,000 feet this year Sam has not been very good. Every time we (the fans) are ready to kick his dog, he does something good or near brilliant (like 1 of 2 beautiful long bombs thrown and caught in our 17-3 victory over the Cardinals). My bottom line analysis is that he needs to do a lot of improving, but considering everything I have discovered in writing this blog, he has had significant obstacles in his path. Once he has a solid offensive line, once he has solid receiving options, once he has a solid running game that can keep the opponent’s defense guessing (in other words, when he has the tools around him to do his job), then it makes more season to rip him to shreds (or hopefully even give him accolades). Today at 3-2 he and his team (thank you Rams defense) are getting the job down.