What to make of Sam Bradford's showing

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
1:30
PM ET
It's great to be back on Facebook now that their iPhone app, recently updated, works more quickly.

Apologies to those who have left personal messages for me there. I'm much more likely to see what's left on my wall, where discussions can break out among more than a couple people. But I will get to the personal messages as well. For those wondering about the Gridiron Challenge fantasy game, yes, we'll put together the league again this season.

Now, on with what's topical.

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
AP Photo/James D SmithThe bigger concern for Rams fans: QB Sam Bradford's play or the men blocking for him?
Facebook friend Samuel raised a pressing question regarding St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

"What are your thoughts on Bradford's struggles Saturday night?" he asked. "Should I be concerned?"

The subject wasn't on my mind while watching the Rams' 20-19 preseason defeat at Dallas, but Samuel wasn't the only fan raising such questions. So, I went back and re-watched the game Monday morning.

Bradford looked good when he had time to throw. He struggled when pressured. There were many little issues for the Rams to clean up, including things we often take for granted, such as spacing.

Bradford opened the game with an accurate throw to Brandon Gibson on time. He had no chance two plays later when defensive tackle Jason Hatcher quickly beat Rams left guard Quinn Ojinnaka.

Bradford again looked good opening the Rams' second drive. He had time to throw and did so accurately, finding tight end Lance Kendricks on the perimeter for a 26-yard gain. From there, a false-start penalty and two unproductive runs put the Rams in a third-and-long situation. Bradford had time and threw for Kendricks on the perimeter again. Kendricks was well-covered, took a big hit and couldn't make the grab. Bradford could have thrown shorter over the middle, but he was going for the first down.

The Rams quickly slipped into third-and-5 on their third possession. Bradford had no chance on that play, one of several when third-down pressure was a problem.

Inside linebacker Sean Lee sacked Bradford on a blitz. It's possible Bradford should have accounted for Lee, who was a front-side rusher. But Bradford looked away to open the play, perhaps because he needed to make sure rookie running back Isaiah Pead picked up the blitz from the other side. Pead did. Meanwhile, right tackle Barry Richardson blocked nobody. Should he have picked up Lee? I'm not sure, but doing so would have spared Bradford from punishment.

Pressure affected Bradford right away on the Rams' fourth possession. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff got past backup right guard Bryan Mattison quickly enough to get a hand on Bradford while the quarterback was attempting to make a quick throw to Gibson on the outside. The ball sailed out of bounds.

Most quarterbacks have a hard time completing passes with 303-pound nose tackles grabbing onto them.

Bradford had time on second down. He threw complete to Danny Amendola on the play. I thought Bradford held the ball too long on third down. He took a hit and the drive ended.

A successful fake punt made Bradford's fifth and final drive a long one. The first time he dropped back to throw, Bradford had a man in his face immediately. That man was Ojinnaka, his left guard. The Cowboys' Jason Hatcher had driven Ojinnaka backward so violently that Ojinnaka actually hit Bradford as the quarterback was throwing. The ball fell incomplete.

Later in that drive, Bradford fielded a high snap from center Scott Wells, who was making his 2012 debut following an extended injury absence. Bradford also fell hard after tripping over rookie running back Daryl Richardson following a handoff. I'm guessing Bradford executed the handoff properly, and that Richardson's spacing was a little off.

Pressure was a problem again later in the drive. No receivers appeared open when Bradford threw incomplete in the end zone on a fourth-down pass for Smith.

Conclusion: Bradford wasn't great, but he was the least of the Rams' problems in this game.

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