Dallas Cowboys: Mark Clayton

Opposing voice: Sam Bradford

October, 22, 2011

IRVING, Texas -- After a surprising 7-9 finish to the 2010 season, many people picked St. Louis to be one of the up-and-coming teams in 2011, led by quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Rams are 0-5 entering Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.

“It’s miserable,” Bradford said. “I’m not going to lie. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not fun. There’s nothing I like about it. It’s definitely not the position we thought we’d be in at this point in the season. I think I’m doing everything I can to make sure we change that. I think everyone in this building is doing the same thing. I don’t think there is anyone here who likes this.”

In a new offense run by coordinator Josh McDaniels, Bradford, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, has completed 104 of 196 passes for 1,177 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in five games. He has been sacked 21 times and has a 72.2 passer rating. As a rookie Bradford threw for 3,512 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 picks and was sacked 34 times.

Bradford, however, has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a high ankle sprain.

“Obviously, I’m still learning a lot of things about how this game is played in this league, but I think I’ve gotten much better each week this year,” Bradford said. “I’ve gotten more comfortable in our offense. That’s something I’m going to continue to try to do week to week, and I think you can always become a better football player.”

Losing Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola to injuries last year and this year has not helped Bradford’s development. But the Rams this week traded for veteran Brandon Lloyd, who excelled under McDaniels in Denver.

“I feel like I’m much more comfortable in the pocket,” Bradford said. “I feel like just running the offense I’m more comfortable. I’ve been asked to do a lot more this year. There’s been a lot more put on my plate. I feel fine with that because I am more comfortable seeing things during a game. I feel more comfortable pretty much in every aspect of the game. Even though my numbers might not be as good as they were last year, I still feel like I’m a better player. As long as I continue to work hard, we’re going to get this offense going.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis Rams beat writer Jim Thomas is a good man. He gave us his take on the 0-5 St. Louis Rams in this week's version of The Other Side.

Q: What's happened to the Rams? Are they taking steps backward in their development as a team?

The early-season schedule has been brutal. The Rams first five opponents are a combined 19-9 so far. Nonetheless, it looks like the team has regressed. The run defense has been a major disappointment, and the offense can't get into the end zone. Lots of penalties and dropped passes, too.

Q: Sam Bradford. Is he going to be good?

Yes. He's fighting it some with the new offensive scheme of first-year Rams coordinator Josh McDaniels. The system is a lot different than Pat Shurmur's West Coast scheme of last year. Many more downfield throws and lots more responsibility at the line of scrimmage. But I think Bradford is the real deal, and eventually it will show.

Q: What should we expect from Mark Clayton and Brandon Lloyd on Sunday?

Lloyd will play and I'd be surprised if he doesn't start. He's a guy who can get downfield and make the tough catch in traffic. He knows the offense very well since he played for McDaniels in Denver in 2010 and '09. For Lloyd, it's simply a matter of getting in sync with the QB, which could be A.J. Feeley Sunday because of Bradford's high ankle sprain. As for Clayton, he's coming off the PUP list following last season's knee surgery and until now hadn't practiced since early October of 2010. So he's less certain to play Sunday; got some rust to knock off.

Q: The Rams have yet to play within the division, has this hurt them?

It sure has. The don't play a division game until November. It would've been good for the team's confidence and won-lost record to get a Seattle or Arizona at home in the early going.

Q: Is Steve Spagnuolo on the hot seat or is he OK?

Everyone knew these first seven games would be tough _ with Dallas and New Orleans following the first five. So nobody expected a sparkling early-season record. But nobody expected this either. So yes, unless Spagnuolo and the Rams start posting some wins, he is on the hot seat.