Stats & Info: Sam Bradford

Top stats to know: Seahawks at Rams

October, 28, 2013

Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
Russell Wilson is unbeaten at home since joining the league, but has not played as well on the road.

It’s a big night for sports in St. Louis. The city is hosting both the World Series and Monday Night Football as the St. Louis Rams take on the Seattle Seahawks (8 ET/ESPN).

Here are five stats to know going into tonight’s gridiron action.

1. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks return to Monday Night Football for the first time since Week 3 of the 2012 season, when Wilson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate as time expired to beat the Packers, 14-12. The play was subsequently dubbed the “Fail Mary” and the “Inaccurate Reception” by various outlets and it led to the almost immediate resolution of the labor dispute between the NFL and its referees.

That was the second game of what is an active 11-game home win streak for Russell Wilson to start his career. However, on the road, Wilson and the Seahawks are 6-6 and as you can see in the graphic to the right, the second-year quarterback has not exceled away from home.

2. Sam Bradford will miss the rest of the season for the Rams with a torn ACL. His 14 touchdown passes this season was by far his highest total in any season through seven games. Bradford had also led the Rams to a 5-2-1 record versus the NFC West since the start of last season – the best divisional record by any of the four NFC West teams over that time.

3. Taking over for Bradford under center will be Kellen Clemens. Clemens started the final three games of the 2011 season for the Rams, posting an 0-3 record and Total QBR of 22.3. Since the start of 2006, 79 quarterbacks have been involved in at least 500 action plays (passes, sacks, QB rushes or penalties). Of those 79, none have posted a worse Total QBR than Clemens’ 20.8.

4. Marshawn Lynch has developed into a major backfield weapon for Seattle since he was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in 2010. Lynch has run for 35 touchdowns since he came to the Seahawks, the third-highest total in the NFL during that span.

5. Tavon Austin's average target has been 5.4 yards downfield this season, the shortest of any wide receiver with at least 40 targets. Despite the relative ease of his passes, Austin has six drops, tied with Davone Bess for the most among wide receivers this season.

Did You Know?

Tonight will be the first time a city has ever hosted a World Series game and a Monday Night Football game on the same day, according to Elias. The only other time a metropolitan area hosted a World Series game and Monday Night Football on the same day was Oct. 27, 1986, when the New York Mets hosted the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the World Series in Queens, NY and the New York Giants hosted Washington in East Rutherford, NJ.

Ash aims to be latest great Big 12 junior

August, 20, 2013

John Albright/Icon SMIOf the top 6 passers in the Big 12 last season (in terms of yards), David Ash is the only one returning.
To steal a phrase from the NFL, the Big 12 has been a quarterback-driven conference for the better part of the last decade. Many of those quarterbacks have been in New York for the Heisman ceremony, and some now occupy the pages of the NCAA record books.

From 2006 to 2011, there were 11 qualifying Big 12 sophomore quarterbacks to post a passer efficiency rating of at least 130.0. Ten of those quarterbacks were their team’s leader in passing yards in their junior season – the lone exception being Sam Bradford, who was injured in 2009 and only played in three games.

For many of those quarterbacks, their junior season was truly their breakout year.

• Robert Griffin III threw 15 more touchdown passes and completed 5.4 percent more of his passes than his sophomore season.

• Colt McCoy saw his numbers skyrocket. He threw 12 more touchdowns and 10 fewer interceptions.

• Chase Daniel threw for 779 more yards, and like Griffin and McCoy, earned a flight to New York for his efforts.

In all, eight of the 10 quarterbacks had a higher completion percentage their junior year. In addition, eight had more pass yards, six had more pass touchdowns and five had a lower interception percentage.

There was just one sophomore to post a passer efficiency rating of at least 130.0 in 2012 – Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash. So what does history tell us about what to expect from the Longhorns quarterback in 2013?

Simply based on this Big 12 trend, Ash should see jumps in every statistical category next season – completion percentage (to better than 71 percent), pass yards, yards per attempt and touchdown passes.

Of the top six passers in the Big 12 (in terms of yards), only Ash will be returning this season. Longhorn fans are hoping he can show enough growth to get them back into the Big 12 title race.

Rams D shuts down Cardinals, snaps streak

October, 5, 2012
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesKevin Kolb has been sacked 17 times in the last two games.
Two streaks were snapped on Thursday night: The St. Louis Rams snapped a streak of 93 games played without being over .500 and the Arizona Cardinals are no longer undefeated.

The Rams defense (assisted by the Cardinals offensive line) was the main reason those streaks ended.

The Rams sacked Kevin Kolb nine times, tying a franchise record for sacks in a game since the stat became official in 1982.

The Cardinals became the first team to be sacked at least eight times in consecutive games since the Cardinals also did it in 2003.

Kolb was sacked or under duress on 21 dropbacks, seven more than any other quarterback this season.

The Rams defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the first time since Week 10 of 2011 against the Cleveland Browns. The three points allowed are their fewest since a 20-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4 of 2010.

The Rams held the Cardinals to 45 rushing yards. It’s the first time the Rams allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns since Week 9 of last season against… the Cardinals.

The Cardinals offense struggled, but the Rams offense wasn’t spectacular either.

Sam Bradford became the fourth quarterback in the last 15 seasons with at least 20 pass attempts and seven or fewer completions in a win. He joined JaMarcus Russell, Jake Delhomme and Akili Smith.

The seven completions included two touchdown passes, one each to Lance Kendricks and Chris Givens.

For both Kendricks and Givens, it was their first career touchdown. The 51-yard strike to Givens was Bradford’s longest career touchdown pass.

Bradford passed for 132 of his 141 yards and both of his touchdowns on throws outside the painted numbers. In the first four weeks of the season, Bradford completed 50.9 percent of his passes outside the numbers and 73.8 percent inside the numbers. He reversed that trend Thursday, completing one of his eight passes inside the numbers for nine yards, the fewest in his career.

Bradford’s completion percentage of 12.5 on throws inside the painted numbers was the lowest in any regular season game (minimum eight pass attempts) among qualified quarterbacks since the start of the 2008 season.

And don’t forget about Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein's 53-yard field goal, his fourth field goal of at least 50 yards, tying the NFL record for most 50-yard field goals by a rookie, according to Elias.

It’s been awhile for the Rams. It wasn’t pretty, but they’re finally over .500 for the first time since 2006.

Is Newton to blame for Panthers' woes?

September, 26, 2012
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Carolina Panthers are off to a slow start this season, but is Cam Newton to blame for their struggles?
This is the third installment of a weekly NFL discussion that takes a closer look at one of the week’s hot topics. Today’s discussion focuses on whether Cam Newton is to blame for the Carolina Panthers slow start. The Panthers travel to Atlanta to take on the undefeated Falcons Sunday afternoon at 1 ET.

Yes, Cam deserves the blame
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, plain and simple, so look no further than Cam Newton as the focal point for the Panthers’ 1-2 start.

Newton has thrown five interceptions through three weeks, or once every 16.6 attempts (30.4 attempts in 2011).

The only quarterbacks with more interceptions than Newton are Brandon Weeden, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick, who all have six. Newton would have joined those three if Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson hadn’t dropped a potential sixth interception in Week 2.

Newton has completed 38.9 percent of his passes on third down, the worst rate in the league among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts on third down.

His average third-down pass travels 15.7 yards downfield, 3.7 yards deeper than the next-closest quarterback, which probably doesn’t help Newton’s 31.8 conversion percentage on third-down dropbacks.

That ranks 22nd out of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and behind quarterbacks such as Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Ryan Tannehill and Matt Cassel.

Newton is one of 18 quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts in the red zone, throwing for one touchdown and one interception. While it’s a small sample size, he’s the only one of those 18 who doesn’t have a positive touchdown-interception differential in the red zone.

Why the slow start for the Panthers? How about a quarterback who is turning the ball over, not converting on third down, and struggling in the red zone compared to other quarterbacks? Assessing blame starts with Cam Newton.

-- John Parolin

No, defense is the problem
How about looking on the other side of the ball to pin the blame on the Panthers’ struggles?

Carolina is currently ranked 27th in rush defense (139.3 yards per game) and has allowed the second-most yards after contact (241) in the league. They are allowing opponents to convert 46.3 percent of their third downs, tied for 26th in the league, and have forced only two turnovers this season.

The defense’s inability to get off the field has consistently put Newton and the offense in a tough spot. The Panthers’ average starting field position is their own 25-yard line, tied for second-worst in the NFL.

Only the Titans have possessed the ball less than the Panthers’ average of slightly more than 25 minutes per game. It’s no coincidence that the bottom five teams in the league in time of possession have a combined record of 3-12.

It’s easy to point the finger at the quarterback but in this case the defense deserves its share of the blame. If Newton had any faith in his defense, he might not be trying to do too much.

-- Mike Landrigan

NFC West in search of O-Line, WR help

April, 19, 2012
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we take a look at the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Needs: Offensive line, wide receiver

The Cardinals used only five different offensive line combinations last season, yet allowed a league-high 32 sacks facing four or fewer pass rushers.

Larry Fitzgerald had 28 catches on throws traveling at least 15 air yards, while no other Cardinal receiver had more than six.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

St. Louis Rams
Needs: Offensive line, defensive tackle, defensive back, quarterback, wide receiver

The St. Louis Rams need to fill multiple positions under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher.

The Rams’ most used offensive line unit played 26 percent of plays together last season (29th in the NFL), and no team allowed more than the Rams’ 55 sacks.

Staying on the line, but this time defensively, the Rams allowed a league-worst 5.7 yards per rush and 3.2 yards before contact up the middle last season. In the backfield, St. Louis cornerbacks only intercepted one pass on throws outside the numbers in 2011.

Rams’ receivers combined for only 39 receptions on throws traveling at least 15 yards downfield last season (27th in NFL), and Brandon Lloyd (who signed a free agent deal with the New England Patriots) led the team with 13.

Getting those receivers the ball is quarterback Sam Bradford, who is the only player to finish in the bottom five in Total QBR rankings each of the last two seasons.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Seattle Seahawks
Needs: Tight end, defensive line

The Seahawks had 12 of their 33 sacks last season with four or fewer pass rushers, despite sending such pressure 70 percent of the time.

Chris Clemons led the team with 6.5 sacks when Seattle sent four or fewer rushers, but no other defensive lineman contributed more than one.

Seahawks’ tight ends accumulated 453 receiving yards, fourth-fewest in the league, including only six receptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

San Francisco 49ers
Needs: Wide receiver, running back

The 49ers added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, but lost Josh Morgan to free agency.

Vernon Davis caught 60 percent of his targets on throws traveling at least 15 air yards, but other San Francisco receivers hauled in 41 percent of their targets and accounted for just half of Alex Smith's touchdowns on throws of that distance.

The 49ers were one of eight teams without a receiving touchdown by a running back last season, and led the league in drops despite having the second-fewest targets.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

US Presswire
Quarterback Matt Barkley smiles at the end of USC's 50-0 win over UCLA last season.

Other quarterbacks have chosen to stay in school when they stood to be prominent NFL Draft picks, as quarterback Matt Barkley has done at USC.

Let's take a statistical snapshot of recent examples to forgo the NFL Draft for one more year in the college ranks.

Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Manning still ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft after returning to Tennessee for his senior season in 1997.

The Vols won the SEC Championship, beating Auburn, 30-29 before losing to Nebraska, 42-17 in the Orange Bowl. They finished No. 7 in the final AP poll.

Matt Leinart, USC

After winning a national title as a junior, Leinart returned for a memorable campaign in 2005, but one that floundered on a couple fronts.

A year after winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart finished third in the balloting. His Trojans fell short of a second straight undefeated season and national championship, losing to Texas and quarterback Vince Young in a classic game.

Leinart ended up being selected 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2006 NFL Draft and has not yet flourished at the level he did in college.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

After winning the Heisman Trophy and losing the national championship game to a Tim Tebow-led Florida team, Bradford returned for his junior year at Oklahoma. It did not go as planned.
Bradford suffered a shoulder injury in the Sooners first game of the season, then re-injured his shoulder upon returning to face Texas.

Bradford sat out the remainder of the season, then declared for the NFL Draft. He was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 1 pick, and he has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two NFL seasons.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck tested his luck by staying in school for his senior season in 2011, and the decision worked out well.

The Cardinal went 11-2 in Luck’s senior season, finishing No. 7 in the national rankings after a 41-38 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Luck is expected to be taken No. 1 in this year’s NFL Draft.
Multiple sources are reporting that Jeff Fisher has accepted an offer to coach the St. Louis Rams, opting to take his talents to the Midwest after spurning a similar job with the Miami Dolphins.

Fisher, considered by many to be the top prize in this offseason’s head coaching sweepstakes, joins the Rams organization after spending 17 seasons with the Oilers/Titans franchise. Only Curly Lambeau spent more time in his first head-coaching job (29 seasons) before taking his second position.

Fisher established quite a legacy while with the Titans franchise, compiling 147 wins from 1994 to 2010, a total that was nearly three times that of the next-closest coach, Bum Phillips (59).

Fisher won three division titles and took the team to its only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in the 1999 season, losing to the same team he is now set to lead – the Rams.

The rebuilding job in St. Louis will be a huge challenge for Fisher, who had a swift fall from grace over his last three seasons in Tennessee.

The Titans finished with a 13-3 record and the AFC South title in the 2008 regular season, but were upset in the Divisional Playoffs, and then stumbled to an 8-8 record in 2009 and bottomed out at 6-10 last year.

The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003 and have an NFL-worst 15 wins since 2007. If total sounds familiar, it’s the same number of games the Green Bay Packers won in 2011 alone.

Steve Spagnuolo, who became Rams coach in 2009, had presided over arguably the most anemic stretch of football in franchise history.

The Rams have lost 14-or-more games three times in their history, and Spagnuolo was the coach for two of them (2009 and 2011). The 2009 and 2011 teams were also the two lowest-scoring Rams teams since the franchise moved away from Cleveland in 1946.

One of the first things on offense that Fisher will look to fix is a passing game that netted the third-fewest yards and fewest touchdowns in the NFL.

Sam Bradford, who started 10 games this year, has really struggled throwing downfield since entering the NFL. His completion percentage of 32.5 on throws 15 air yards or more downfield since 2010 is the worst in the league.

The rushing game, led by workhorse back Steven Jackson, was marginally better than the passing attack this year with a ranking of 23rd in the league. Jackson, who was injured early in the season, wore down in the second half of 2011.

After grinding out more than five yards per carry through Week 10, he averaged just 3.7 yards per rush during the Rams’ seven-game losing streak to end the season.

Ron Chenoy/US Presswire
Since the start of the 2010 season, no receiver has more targets (91) and receptions (48) than Lloyd on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield.

The Denver Broncos traded WR Brandon Lloyd to the St. Louis Rams. The Rams gave up a sixth-round draft pick that could become a fifth-round pick if Lloyd catches 30 passes the rest of the season.

The Broncos have called pass plays on 59.6 percent of snaps from scrimmage, 16th-highest in the NFL this season. Lloyd is now headed to the most pass-oriented offense in the league (66.3 percent). The Cleveland Browns are second at 64.9 percent, followed by the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, both at 64.2 percent.

Lloyd would be an upgrade over Sam Bradford's current receiving corps, especially over the middle. Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (Lloyd’s head coach in Denver for 2009 and most of 2010) will be hoping Lloyd can replicate his production from a year ago, when he led the NFL in receiving yards (1,448).

Since the start of the 2010 season, no receiver has more targets (91) and receptions (48) than Lloyd on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield. In addition, he caught six TD passes and had an NFL-best no dropped passes on balls thrown 15 yards or more downfield.

By comparison, no Rams receiver has more than 12 such receptions and in all, Rams receivers were targeted 103 times and caught only 36 passes on such throws. The group also combined for five TDs and six dropped balls.

Lloyd is the fourth player since the merger (1970) to lead the NFL in receiving yards, then play for a different team the following season. He's the first to switch teams midseason the next year. Lloyd joins Muhsin Muhammad, who went from the Carolina Panthers to the Chicago Bears in 2005; John Jefferson, who went from the San Diego Chargers to the Green Bay Packets in 1981; and Harold Jackson, who went from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Los Angeles Rams.

Eagles have enviable backup option for Vick

September, 22, 2011

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesIf Michael Vick doesn't return Sunday against the New York Giants, Andy Reid can take solace in the fact that he has one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL according to Total QBR: Vince Young.

The Philadelphia Eagles are optimistic Michael Vick will be able to return Sunday against the New York Giants after suffering a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons. Vick returned to the practice field Thursday, one day after his replacement against Atlanta, Mike Kafka, took all of the first-team snaps in practice. That same day, newly acquired backup Vince Young returned to practice after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason.

Kafka, drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, did not see any regular-season action for the Eagles in 2010. That was one of the reasons Philadelphia signed Young as a backup QB.

While we don’t know who will start for Philadelphia on Sunday – signs point to Vick – we can analyze just how lucky the Eagles are to have Young as a backup.

As a refresher, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a quarterback's contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team's scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, on which 50 is average.

Young’s Total QBR of 64.2 from 2008-10 is only a slight drop-off from Vick's (65.9). In that span, Young ranked 11th among the 75 quarterbacks with at least 100 action plays. Obviously, 100 action plays is a relatively small sample size, but since we are dealing with backup quarterbacks, there has to be some cutoff regarding what can be determined as an appropriate minimum value for assessing backups.

There are 14 teams in the NFL that have a backup with at least 100 action plays over the last three years. Among those teams, the Eagles have the fourth-smallest drop-off in Total QBR from starter to backup in moving from Vick to Young. The three teams with a "more favorable" backup situation feature three young QBs who are either playing very well (Ryan Fitzpatrick) or are considered the future of the franchise (Matthew Stafford and Colt McCoy).

A quick glance at the QBR leaderboard from the previous three seasons shows that Young actually rates higher than 22 other starting quarterbacks. That group includes Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Kevin Kolb and Mark Sanchez.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" page.
The New York Giants capitalized on numerous mistakes by the St. Louis Rams and secured their first win of the season Monday night, 28-16.

The Rams had four fumbles, including one on a lateral pass from Sam Bradford to Cadillac Willliams in the second quarter that Williams fumbled. Giants linebacker Michael Boley returned that fumble for a 65-yard touchdown, the first of his career and the first fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Giants since 2009.

The Rams also had a muffed punt that led to a Giants touchdown and several miscues on defense which led to a Eli Manning 31-yard pass to Mario Manningham.

Manning (18-for-29, 200 yards) had two passing touchdowns and an interception. This is Manning's seventh straight regular-season game with an interception, tying the longest such streak of his career. He also threw a pick in seven straight games in 2007.

Bradford threw for 331 yards and a touchdown against the Giants, his second career 300-yard passing game. Bradford has now thrown for over 4,000 yards in his career.

Bradford took advantage of a weakened Giants secondary and was 8 of 13 for 239 yards and a touchdown when passing 15 yards or more downfield. Prior to Monday's game, Bradford had never completed more than four attempts of that length in a single game.

In addition, last season, Bradford completed the lowest percentage of throws over 15 yards among all qualified NFL quarterbacks (30.9).

Bradford entered the game averaging 6.4 air yards per pass attempt with his single-game high being 7.9 air yards per attempt. Monday night, Bradford averaged 9.1 air yards per attempt.

While the Giants secondary struggled, their pass rushing was strong throughout the night. Bradford was under duress (either forced from the pocket, altered his throwing motion due to pressure or a defender had a clear path in his line of sight) on 14 of his 49 dropbacks.

The pressure worked as intended, as Bradford went 0-11 and was hit five times while throwing. In comparison, he was 22-35 for 331 yards and a touchdown when not under duress.

The Giants didn’t record an interception against Bradford, but they were able to defend eight Bradford passes. Prior to Monday night, Bradford had eight or more passes intercepted or defended only once in his career, in Week 15 last season against the Kansas City Chiefs (10).

Brandon Jacobs (16 rush, 50 rush yards) picked up his 50th career rushing touchdown. He is now second on the all-time Giants rush touchdown list behind Tiki Barber (55).

The Giants have taken the last five meetings in this series after the Rams won the previous five. Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 3-0 versus the Rams, previously beating them 44-24 in 2005 and 41-13 in 2008.

Trevor Ebaugh, John McTigue and Dan Riccio contributed to this story.

Cam Newton's potentially historic draft

April, 13, 2011

If he's drafted No. 1 overall, Cam Newton will do something that hasn't happened since 1950.

In their most recent mock drafts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. are projecting that the Carolina Panthers will select Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Despite an uneven performance at the combine and questions about his off-the-field ambitions, Newton has steadily climbed Kiper’s and McShay’s draft boards since mid-January, when both had him going 10th to the Washington Redskins.

Four months after winning the Heisman Trophy and three months after leading Auburn to a national championship, Newton is on the verge of having his named called first on draft day. If so, Newton will be the first player selected first overall the year after winning a Heisman Trophy and national championship in more than 60 years. In fact, only two players have ever been drafted first the year after winning a Heisman and national title: Leon Hart in 1950, and Angelo Bertelli in 1944.

Both Hart and Bertelli starred at Notre Dame. Hart dominated on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame’s 1949 national championship team before being taken No. 1 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1950 NFL draft.

Bertelli won the Heisman in 1943, despite appearing in only six games before entering the Marine Corps. The quarterback was drafted by the Boston Yanks first overall in 1944, but elected to join Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference after completing his service in World War II.

While a player going No. 1 the year after winning a Heisman and national title is rare, Heisman Trophy recipients have been drafted first overall 18 times. If Newton is the first player off the board, then it will be the second straight year a Heisman winner was the top pick in the draft. (The St. Louis Rams picked Sam Bradford first in 2010.) The last time Heisman winners were drafted No. 1 overall in consecutive years was 1986-87, Bo Jackson and Vinny Testaverde. Oddly enough, Jackson was drafted in both years. The Raiders selected Jackson 183rd overall in 1987 after he opted to play baseball instead of signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986.

Of course, Newton isn’t the only Heisman Trophy winner who will be drafted. Alabama running back Mark Ingram (the 2009 Heisman winner) is expected to hear his name called sometime during the first round. The 2011 draft will be the third time since 2006 that there have been a pair of Heisman winners selected in the same draft: Bradford and Tim Tebow went in the first round last year; Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart both were top 10 picks in 2006.

Prior to that, multiple Heisman Trophy recipients hadn’t been picked in the same year since 1992 (Desmond Howard, Ty Detmer).
Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh were paired together last April as the top two picks in the NFL Draft, and Friday night they shared the stage once again, when they were voted the AP Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year.

Sam Bradford
The only other time in the history of the award that the top two picks in the NFL Draft also were voted as the top rookies was in 1981 when No. 1 pick George Rogers and No. 2 pick Lawrence Taylor took home the honors.

Bradford is the first quarterback taken first overall to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is the fourth No. 1 pick among all positions to win the award, alongside Rogers, Billy Sims (1980) and Earl Campbell (1978). Bradford is just the third player in Rams history to win Offensive Rookie of Year, joining Jerome Bettis (1993) and Eric Dickerson (1983) in the franchise record books.

Bradford becomes the fourth quarterback in the last seven years to win the offensive award. That’s an incredible run of talent behind center considering that in the first 47 years of the award, zero quarterbacks were honored.

Bradford had one of the best seasons statistically by a rookie quarterback in NFL history, finishing the season with the most completions (354) and attempts (590), second in passing yards (3,512) and tied for fifth in passing touchdowns (18).

Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh, the only rookie elected to the All-Pro team, is the first Defensive Rookie of the Year who was also the first defensive player drafted since Julius Peppers in 2002, and is also the first non-linebacker since Peppers to win the award. The last Lion to win Rookie of the Year was Al Baker in 1978.

Suh dominated the line of scrimmage, finishing with 10 sacks, the most by a defensive tackle this season, and tied for the second-most by a rookie defensive tackle since sacks became official in 1982.
With the NFC West title up for grabs, the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard Sunday Night. In fact, the 22 combined points are the fewest in Rams/Seahawks history breaking a record the two teams set earlier this season (23). Despite the anemic offenses (or stout defenses depending on how you look at it) the Seahawks were able to make history in the final game of the 2010 NFL regular season. In defeating the Rams, the Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to win a division title with a sub-.500 record (7-9).

It's the club's seventh division title and first since 2007. Coach Pete Carroll returns to the NFL playoffs for the first time since leading the New England Patriots there in 1998 and becomes the 27th coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to the playoffs.

Despite entering Sunday with the worst running game in the NFL (85.5 Rush YPG) the Seahawks broke free for 141 yards (Seattle’s third-most this season). Much of the ground attack was handled by running back Marshawn Lynch who netted all 75 of his rush yards and three of his four first downs in the second half. All but one of those yards came on attempts to the right side, his highest single-game total to the right over the last three seasons.

The other offensive story for the Seahawks was backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, making his second career NFL start. Whitehurst connected with wide receiver Ruvell Martin on a 61-yard pass play during the opening drive that set up the game's only touchdown (Mike Williams four-yard reception). Whitehurst wasn’t asked to do much more as 23 of his 36 passes were thrown to targets within five yards of the line of scrimmage (63.8 pct). To put that in context, starter Matt Hasselbeck had thrown only 46.8 percent of his passes five yards or fewer this season.

Sunday’s game for Whitehurst’s quarterback counterpart, Sam Bradford, was filled with highs and lows. Of Bradford’s 36 pass attempts, 33 were less than 20 yards downfield, and when the rookie did throw the deep ball, he once again struggled. On the season, Bradford connected on just 33.8 percent of his attempts of at least 15 yards, which is well below the NFL average of 41.4 percent. Things were no different against the Seahawks as Bradford went 0-7.

Some good news is that Bradford’s 36 pass attempts gave him 590 on the season, most in NFL history by a rookie. He also finished with 3,512 pass yards on the season, second-most in NFL history by a rookie behind Peyton Manning’s record of 3,739 yards.

Brady, Cassel Under Center of Attention

December, 31, 2010
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention.

Tom Brady
If Tom Brady plays for the New England Patriots Sunday, he'll put a number of historic streaks on the line. He's won an NFL-record 27 straight home games. He's thrown an NFL-record 319 straight passes without an interception. But did you know he has also thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season? If he does throw one Sunday, he'll be the sixth different quarterback in the 16-game schedule era (since 1978) to throw at least one TD pass in every game and the first since Daunte Culpepper in 2004. Keep in mind, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints can also achieve this feat Sunday as well.

Speaking of Brees, no down or distance is too difficult to overcome for the New Orleans Saints quarterback. On third down and more than 10 yards to go, Brees has completed 20-of-28 passes and nine of those completions have gone for first downs. That's the most completions for first downs in that situation he's had in a single season in his career. In fact, the only quarterback to throw for more facing 3rd-and-10 or more yards is Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers with 12.

The rookie QB will try to get the St. Louis Rams into the playoffs with a win Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. He has thrown 554 passes and has completed 60.5 percent of them this season, an outstanding feat for someone so young. According to Pro Football Reference, if he can keep his accuracy up Sunday, he'll be just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw 500 passes with a completion percentage of 60 or better at age 23 or younger.

Matt Cassel needs to throw three touchdown passes and he will tie Len Dawson's single-season franchise record of 30, set in 1964. But like Brady, Cassel has not been turning the ball over. His interception rate of 1.2 (percent of his pass attempts that are intercepted) is second only to Brady (0.8) this season. Historically speaking, Cassel's TD-to-interception differential is +22, which is three better than Steve DeBerg's previous team record set in 1990 when he threw 23 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Freeman, Bucs taking care of the ball

December, 31, 2010
ESPN NFL Research Coordinator Russell Baxter's Top Five Things to Know as heard this morning on Mike and Mike in the Morning .

• The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have committed just 17 turnovers in 15 games this season after having 34 turnovers during their 3-13 season in 2009. A lot of that improvement can be tied to QB Josh Freeman, who went from 20 turnovers in 10 games last year to just eight turnovers in 15 games this year.

• The Indianapolis Colts have rushed for 346 yards in their past two games after totaling just 360 yards rushing in their previous six games. In the past two weeks, Jim Caldwell’s team has outrushed the Jaguars and Raiders by a combined 346-147 count.

• The Chicago Bears have totaled 19 sacks in their past six games (13 sacks in first nine games). That could be bad news for the Green Bay Packers, who need a win to reach the playoffs. Green Bay has given up 15 sacks in their past four games, after allowing just 21 sacks in their first 11 games this season.

• Since leading the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-10, in the fourth quarter in Week 15, the New York Giants have been outscored a combined 73-17 in their last four-plus quarters of play. Turnovers continue to be the story for Tom Coughlin’s team. In their past 26 games dating to 2009, Big Blue has coughed up the ball an astounding 67 times.

• St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford has thrown 18 TD passes in 15 games this season after the Rams offense scored an NFL-low 16 touchdowns in 2009. With a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, St. Louis would become the second team in three seasons to finish 1-15 and go onto win a division title the following season (Miami Dolphins in 2008).