Sam Bradford, master of the hard count?

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
11:15
AM ET
One of the biggest St. Louis Rams fans I know raised the possibility nearly a month ago.

The San Francisco 49ers had held on for a 23-20 overtime victory over the Rams despite having five players commit six penalties for offside or encroachment. Were the 49ers really that undisciplined? Or was Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford really that persuasive with his cadence? Yes, and yes.

"Maybe Bradford has a better hard count than we thought," Rams fan Brian wrote via Facebook page Nov. 14.

The comment came to mind Thursday during the NFC West chat.

"Do you think you could run an analysis on how many offsides, neutral-zone infractions, etc., that have been caused by the different QBs across the league?" MG from Portland asked. "I swear I've seen Bradford create more of those than Marc Bulger ever did, and I am curious how he ranks within the division, conference, league, etc."

I loved the idea and reached out to Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information. Hank put together a file linking starting quarterbacks with opposing penalties for offside, encroachment and neutral-zone infractions. The file was not perfect; a starting quarterback would get "credit" for penalties committed after he left the game. But the overall numbers would still tell us what we wanted to know. Starting quarterbacks tend to finish as well.

Turns out Bradford was the starting quarterback in games when opponents committed 27 such penalties. The number was no higher than 19 for any other quarterback in the league.

The first chart breaks down the penalties by opponent. Note that the Rams' three most recent opponents have committed none. Their first nine opponents committed at least one in every game. Is the word on Bradford getting around? Might his totals plateau as opponents become more familiar with his cadence?

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The second chart breaks down totals for quarterbacks around the league. I made four penalties the cutoff. Again, counts tie starting quarterbacks to opponents' penalties committed for offside, encroachment and neutral-zone infractions.

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