Monday, October 4, 2010
Sam Bradford sails through first month
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- The question stumped Sam Bradford more than some of the NFL defenses he's faced through four games with the St. Louis Rams.
What's the hardest part of the job?
Two seconds passed.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford is still making adjustments to the NFL game.
Bradford, who owns a 93.1 passer rating on third down and has won his last two starts, repeated the question.
Two more seconds passed.
"I don't know."
Two more seconds.
Two more seconds.
"I don't know."
Bradford was thinking. Six more seconds passed before I finally said it's probably a good thing when a rookie quarterback can't immediately come up with any significant difficulties associated with the job.
"I mean, it's an awesome job, to be honest," Bradford said. "I don't know how many people are blessed to come to work every day and love what they do."
Bradford finally found the answer. It was worth the wait.
"I think still the hardest thing for me right now is just getting to the point where I am as comfortable with this offense as I was with the offense in college," Bradford said. "It seems like we put in stuff every week that is new that I haven't ran, whereas my last year of college, even the new stuff, I had ran the previous year so I had at least repped it."
Bradford recalled one such play from the Rams' 20-3 victory over Seattle on Sunday. He wouldn't say which one it was, but he said the play turned out poorly (and it wasn't the interception Bradford threw in the end zone, either).
"I am having to really understand what it is to study something and understand what you are doing without running it and then be able to translate that and execute it if that play does get called Sunday," Bradford said.
The Rams made available Bradford for an informal session with a handful of reporters and it was as comfortable as I'd seen him. He wore a red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap, white "Island Surf" T-shirt from Coronado, Calif., silver baggy gym shorts and some Quiksilver flip-flops.
A small band-aid on one knee and a pea-sized scab on his right wrist were the only apparent signs of wear after four regular-season games. Bradford said he's put on 10 to 12 pounds since college and the extra weight is serving him well (although coach Steve Spagnuolo said he cringed when Bradford took a high-low shot during the Oakland game).
Bradford has played so well to this point that when he uncharacteristically missed a few throws Sunday, coaches caught themselves wondering what was wrong when reviewing the game on video Monday. Spagnuolo said he turned to quarterbacks coach Dick Curl when it dawned on them that Bradford was only four games into his rookie season. They were picking nits as though Bradford were a seasoned veteran.
Stats available on ESPN.com from Elias Sports Bureau show Bradford with a 118.1 rating in third-and-long situations. Bradford acknowledged that the offense has benefited from playing three of its first four games at home. He also credited the Rams' defense, which has held the first four opponents to 17 points or fewer.
The overall impression from Bradford is that the NFL in general and game situations in particular aren't too big for him. As Rams guard Adam Goldberg said Sunday, the team thinks of Bradford as its quarterback, not its rookie quarterback.
Bradford thinks of himself that way, too. One example: The NFL's eight-week mandatory program for rookies focused on stress management Monday. The program is well-intended and surely benefits at-risk rookies.