Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Breaking Down Bradford: Upgraded Supporting Cast, Familiar Coaching Staff Will Make This Breakthrough Year; NFL PREVIEW

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Breaking Down Bradford: Upgraded Supporting Cast, Familiar Coaching Staff Will Make This Breakthrough Year; NFL PREVIEW

Article excerpt

Sometimes, the real trick in defining a gifted athlete's progress can be wrapped up in one simple word. So when it comes right down to it, there really isn't much separating my opinion on Sam Bradford's professional progress from that of my tag-team partner, Joe Strauss.

What he sees when he looks at the Rams quarterback is what could be. So he insists this must be Bradford's breakthrough year.

I say it will be Bradford's breakthrough year.

Put me in the pack of those who have been waiting for Bradford to have everything properly in place to make his ascent to the NFL's special quarterback class. This wasn't a simple act or an instant process. It was filled with setbacks and hard knocks, shifting playbooks, fired coaches, differing management styles and dramatic ownership philosophies.

Look around him and what do you see that wasn't in place just two years ago? A proven head coach. A consistent offensive coordinator. A playbook he knows and an offensive lineup full of potential stars and foundation players. Perhaps the final pieces to that puzzle came this winter with the addition of Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long, rising star tight end Jared Cook and the explosive rookie receiver Tavon Austin. Add them to the mix of second-year players Daryl Richardson, Chris Givens and Brian Quick and during the preseason you could see the potential for all of this coming together.

"I think it was great watching some of those young guys making plays," Bradford said after the final preseason game. "We all know what they're capable of, but it's nice to see it affirmed on the field."

So now we get to sit back and watch something fascinating come together. This is what Bradford has been craving since he arrived here as the No.1 pick four years ago. He doesn't talk much about such things in public. But he knows what's expected of someone proclaimed as the face of the franchise. He knows they expect him to lead this organization to great places. But he also knows a lot of folks in the NFL have moved on to newer flavors of the month like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

But what you need to know is no matter what others are saying about him, how many have forgotten about him, his expectations are so much higher. He doesn't talk about it often, but trust me, he believes he's capable of a level of play that would make your hopes shrink in comparison.

So now it's time for it to happen. Now is the time for it to all come together. Now is the time for Bradford's Rams to stop teasing us with their potential and deliver on that promise.

"I think obviously we are much improved at the skill position group," he said last week. "Just in the sense we have a lot more speed. But there are some things we need to clean up. ... We've done a lot of good things in the preseason. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.