NFL Nation: Kevin Wilson

The evolution of Bradford and the Rams

September, 6, 2013
Sam Bradford Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsSam Bradford is excited about how the Rams plan to attack opposing defenses this season.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Rams quarterback Sam Bradford stops to ponder the question, searching the deeper recesses of his memory.

The question isn’t difficult, it’s a simple test of the mind. But considering how much information Bradford has socked away in the past six years, it’s not surprising it takes a minute to locate the answer.

Talking X’s and O’s after another training camp practice, Bradford is asked if he remembers how Oklahoma once built the nation’s most prolific, up-tempo offense around his right arm and the very brain he’s now using to come up with a response.

“It’s hard to remember back that far,” Bradford said, a sly grin creeping across his face.

Five-plus years really isn’t that far but in the mind of a quarterback who learned three new offensive schemes in his first three NFL seasons, that time might as well be translated to dog years.

When Bradford arrives at the answer, he begins retracing the steps it took him to a Heisman Trophy in the 2008 season and he begins to connect the dots between the transformation of that Sooners offense and the one the Rams are now building with him as the centerpiece.

‘Play fast but don’t hurry’

In the years before Bradford arrived on the Oklahoma campus, the Sooners were a run-heavy team, making the easy decision to put the ball in the hands of running backs like Adrian Peterson. Oklahoma ran the ball 61 percent of the time in 2005 and 62 percent in 2006.

Peterson departed for the NFL draft after that season and then-Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson & Co. began to evaluate which direction the offense would go.

Bradford was coming off a redshirt freshman season in which he impressed on the scout team and positioned himself to take over as starter. Just as the Sooners were ready to make it official, Bradford struggled mightily in a public scrimmage.

“He had probably his worst scrimmage of the whole time he was there,” Wilson said. “The day we were ready to say Sam is the guy, he just had an off day.”

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