For three years now, Rams fans have been told to have patience with Sam Bradford. We have all heard the excuses, new offensive coordinator (each year), no quarterback coach (last year), terrible quarterback coach (first year), wide receivers that can’t get separation (all three years), wide receivers that can’t get deep, and, of course, inconsistent or bad offensive line play. However, I have not seen an article yet get into detail on these excuses so we can determine if they are explanations or excuses. I will attempt to address that now, so you can form your own conclusions.
We all know that a quarterback, whether or running QB or pocket QB, cannot excel without an offensive line which is at least adequate. We can all agree that Sam Bradford had a good to great rookie year. Why? I propose to you that the consistency on the offensive line was the major reason. Certainly, it was not the amazing talent that he had to throw to (addressed later).
The Offensive Line
In 2010, the same person started at left tackle, center, right guard and left guard all year. The right tackle was Jason Smith, and he only missed one game. No one on that line was an all-star, but Sam Bradford knew their strengths and weaknesses. He knew or should have known when he was going to have protection problems because he knew who was protecting him.
In 2011, the line was in amazing disarray. The only person to start every game was Harvey Dahl, yet Dahl did not start every game at the same position. Rodger Saffold started 9 games. Jason Smith started 6 games. Jacob Bell started 12 games, and Jason Brown started 14 games. In got interesting thereafter. Adam Goldberg started 8 games at multiple positions. Tony Wragge started 8 games, and Mark LeVoir started three games. The incredibly famous Kevin Hughes and Thomas Welch each played in multiple games. It should surprise no one that Sam Bradford got hurt in 2011 and only played in 10 games.
So far in 2012, Sam Bradford has been inconsistent, but so has his line. Barry Richardson, who was ranked as one of the worst offensive lineman in the league last year by Pro Football Focus, has started all 11 games for the Rams. Harvey Dahl has started 11 games and so has Robert Turner. Otherwise, Rodger Saffold has started 5 games, Chris Wells 2 games, Quinn Ojinnaka 5 games, Shelley Smith 6 games and Wayne Hunter started 4 games.
We now have our regulars back. If my theory is correct, we should see improvement in Bradford’s play over the remaining five games. This is borne out by the chart above, which shows that - aside from Barry RIchardson - the vast majority of QB hits and sacks have come from backups on this year's line. Last week was one of Bradford’s best. While his completion percentage was not up to par, many of his incompletions were throw aways. His quarterback rating was his second best of the season and fifth best of his career.no comments