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Claim: 'Big step back' awaiting Bradford

Quarterback Sam Bradford faces a difficult short-term adjustment while transitioning to a new offensive system under coordinator Josh McDaniels.

I think he'll handle it well and show progress in his second NFL season.

Easy for me to say.

ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck learned at least five offensive systems during his six-year career as a backup quarterback. Asked whether McDaniels would help make Bradford into a top-tier quarterback, Hasselbeck said he anticipates a tough transition for Bradford in 2011.

"I think eventually he will be a top-tier quarterback," Hasselbeck said. "I've got to tell you, though, I am not in love with the idea of Sam Bradford having to learn a brand-new system that is very different from what Pat Shurmur was doing in St. Louis. To me, I think we are going to see a big step back."

That would stand as a significant disappointment for the Rams. I tend to think quarterbacks worry about such things on a personal level with less regard for the bigger picture. And the bigger picture says Bradford's career trajectory remains on track, most likely.

The San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith finished his rookie season with one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions. The 49ers' coordinator at the time, Mike McCarthy, then left to become Green Bay's head coach. Smith learned a new system under Norv Turner the next season, finishing 2006 with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Smith had nowhere to go but up following his rough rookie season. He was also less talented than Bradford appears to be. Bradford will struggle some because he's a young quarterback, but he fared quite well after learning a new system last season.