Sam Bradford has regressed during his second season with the Rams.
Bradford plays with less offensive talent than any good quarterback in the National Football League, and his offensive line is an embarrassment to the game of football. I get all of that, but enough already. No more excuses, okay?
It's time for Sam Bradford to start playing like a franchise quarterback.
The St. Louis Rams lost to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime by a score of 19-13 on Sunday on a punt return by rookie Patrick Peterson. Steven Jackson ran hard, the Rams' D played awesome football, and Sam Bradford made his return to the lineup after missing two games with a high ankle sprain.
Make no mistake, though, Sam Bradford did not play a good game.
At best, Bradford looked very rusty in his first game back. At worst, Bradford looked shell shocked, holding the ball too long and taking too many sacks.
Here are five plays that Sam Bradford should have made during this game.
In the first quarter, the Rams attempted a little bit of what I call "trickeration."
Offensive Coordinator called for a flea flicker, and the play worked. Well, sort of.
Brandon Lloyd had a couple of steps on his defender, Patrick Peterson, but Bradford left the ball short. Peterson picked the pass off, and the Cardinals avoided disaster.
If Bradford gets rid of this ball on time, it's six points for the Rams.
Later in the first half, Bradford had rookie wide receiver Austin Pettis wide open on a skinny post. Bradford overthrew Pettis, missing an easy chance for a touchdown.
As offensively challenged as the Rams are, Bradford can't afford to miss these kinds of easy chances.
The Rams dominated time of possession in the first half of this game. They outgained the Cardinals in total offense almost three-to-one.
So why did the Rams settle for only three field goals in the first half?
Because Sam Bradford took too many terrible sacks. If it is third down, and the Rams need longer than 9 yards, you can bet the opposition will blitz, and you can bet that when they do Sam Bradford is going to get sacked.
I'm sitting here on my couch saying, "Here comes the blitz... get rid of it... Get Rid of It!!! GET RID OF THE *&^%* BALL!!!"
Nope, instead Bradford takes a sack that kills the drive. This is becoming a theme with the Rams.
Early in the second half of the game, the Rams were again in "Third-and-about-to-be-sacked."
Why doesn't Bradford just take the snap and then throw it immediately to a hot receiver? Do we even have a hot receiver?
These are the questions I'd like to ask Josh McDaniels.
Anyway, Bradford took the snap, and the blitz came. He had a receiver wide open on a scissors route down the right sideline. Instead of getting rid of the ball to give the receiver a chance, Bradford was sacked.
So once again, a sack killed the Rams' drive, and Bradford missed another chance at an easy touchdown.
The Rams' D was playing great football against the Cardinals. Not only did they hold the Cardinals to a pair of field goals through the first three-and-a-half quarters, but they also recorded two safeties!
So for the game, the Rams' D had almost as many points as the Cardinals team.
This is the kind of game where Sam Bradford had a chance to lay the hammer down, to drive that final nail in the coffin, to really put his own stamp on the game...
Instead, with 9:59 to go in the game, and a chance to bury the Cardinals, Bradford just... blaaaaahhhhh.
The Rams took over at their own 27-yard line. They led 13-6. March the ball down the field and put some points on the board. Throw the knockout punch...
Instead, on 2nd-and-8, Bradford threw a pass right at Darrell Washington that was almost picked off. On 3rd-and-8, Bradford threw the ball behind Brandon Lloyd for an incomplete pass.
The Cardinals got the ball back and proceeded to march the ball down the field. Cardinals' backup QB John Skelton was four out of five on the drive, and capped it off with a touchdown pass to Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Bradford had a chance to end the game. Instead, he left the door open.
After blowing the chance to bury the Cardinals in regulation, Bradford and the Rams got the ball to start overtime. After moving the ball and picking up a first down, the Rams were facing a 3rd-and-7. Bradford badly overthrew his receiver, which brought up fourth down.
Of course, on the punt return, Patrick Peterson took it 99 yards to the house.
The Rams lost this game in excruciating fashion, but that's not even the point.
The point is: How did the Cardinals even have a chance to win?
As well as the Rams' D played, this game should have been over by halftime. We've heard all the excuses—Bradford was playing on a gimpy ankle, the Rams secondary has been wiped out by injuries, the Rams had the toughest early season schedule in the NFL—and there is some validity to those arguments.
Sunday, the Rams played the Arizona Cardinals, who are terrible!
It's time for the Rams to step up and play good football. It's time for them to play like they expect to win.
And it's time for Sam Bradford to step up and start playing like a franchise quarterback.