Sam Bradford's situation is an anomaly. When he was another team's problem, it was easy to laugh at his ineffective Rams tenure and throw around the word "bust" in the same way it's used to describe guys like Brady Quinn. Heck, even after the Eagles gave up a second-round pick (!!!) for him, it was easy to shrug him off as a potential trade chip for some other quarterback I've totally forgotten all about.
But now that the 2015 Draft is over and the cold morning light has hit our faces, we look over and, sure enough, Bradford is still the quarterback we went home with.
So as we look ahead to Training Camp and the preseason, we're forced to really try to identify what we have in the former first overall pick. Because he played for a bad team in a city that doesn't seem to care about its team (their Twitter account has fewer followers than the Titans' account), much of what we know about Bradford comes secondhand.
Here to change all that is YouTube user RamsondemandBLOG. Rams, first of their name, of House demandBLOG has uploaded the Holy Grail of vintage Sam Bradford videos, one that promises to show us all of Bradford's throws that went further than 15 yards. From the 2011 season. Sure, it's not as recent as BGN Radio host John Barchard's beautiful #SamBadford versus #SamGoodford analysis, but this video does provide a good deal of insight into not only the physical tools that made Bradford the first overall pick, but also the kind of dreck that surrounded him in Saint Louie.
To help me in this quest for answers are BGN regulars Ben Natan and Dave Mangels. You can follow along at home by clicking the time markers listed in the headings. Let's go!
Patrick Wall: Oh man, no slow-mo hype montage beforehand? No obscure, politically-charged hip hop song to get us started? Bummer. At least the video starts with the Dream Team-era Eagles. Good thing this isn't a Steven Jackson highlight video or I would have turned it off after the first five seconds.
Dave Mangels: First of all can we just point out the oddity of this video? "All of Bradford's throws over 15 yards". Fifteen yards is an arbitrary number. Ten yards, that's a first down. Twenty yards, there's a stat for 20 and 40 yard passes. Fifteen yards? This seems like it was the end product of a bet made after a couple of pitchers. "Dude, he had like three throws over 15 yards." "No way man." You can't find a video like this for anyone else. This is like the Rams version of "Nick Foles was 14-4", which he wasn't.
PW: Our first drop of the video! Bradford has time to throw, fires a nice strike down the middle of the field, and thanks to the immortal Casey Matthews finds a wide open Lance Kendricks... only to have him drop what is otherwise a likely touchdown. According to the announcers, it's Kendricks' second drop of the game. But believe me when I tell you that it will not be the last you see today.
DM: I like that you're starting off with an incomplete pass. Real inspiring. Also inspiring is that he found the guy open being covered by Kurt Coleman, with Casey Matthews nearby. At least he knows to pick on the weak.
Ben Natan: Bradford does a good job working up in the pocket as he goes through his reads. Delivers a good throw to the middle of the field where his tight end drops in stride and then proceeds to die.
PW: Sure, this throw isn't 100 percent on the money, but it's an impressive sideline throw and a nice catch by former Eagle Brandon Gibson. I would expect to see Bradford make some throws like this in 2015, especially with a guy like Jordan Matthews, whose height is a real asset in jump ball situations.
DM: Future Eagle to former Eagle against eventual former Eagle! The pessimist says not a great throw, the optimist says he put it where either his receiver would get it or no one else would.
BN: Anticipates his receiver getting open over Nnamdi, as receivers often do. Does a good job fitting the ball in on the sideline between the corner and the late safety (classic Kurt Coleman). Ball a bit overthrown and receiver makes a good adjustment.
PW: This play is awesome. Bradford looks off the safety (which admittedly doesn't actually do anything), then throws a great pass to Danario Alexander, who does Danario Alexander things after the catch. Remember when he was awesome? Those were fun times for our fantasy teams.
BN: Similar situation. Bradford hits his first read down the field who beat both the safety and the corner. Receiver had to slow up a bit and make a tough adjustment to make the grab though.
DM: Nice throw, poor run after the catch. Another former Eagle on defense!
PW: Stop me if you've seen this before: the Rams were running some up-tempo stuff during this drive, and as we've seen during the Chip Kelly era, the other guys can't hack it. Get used to this, Sammy. You're going to see it a lot.
PW: Here's what you like to see. With a messy pocket and Giants defenders closing in, Bradford doesn't panic. He lets his RB make a helluva block in front of him, steps up and makes a great throw to Alexander. It's not hard to picture something similar happen this year with Matthews (or maybe Zach Ertz) playing the role of Alexander.
DM: FADE ROUTE YEAH BABY BRING BACK MOMAH AND BASKETT
BN: Important for a bunch of reasons: The fact that Bradford looked calm with a blitz coming is encouraging after the bullshit we dealt with Back Foot Foles last year. Also, his ability to be aggressive under pressure and trust his big receiver at the catch point is something we did not really have with Sanchez in the later half of the year. Aggression plus poise as a passer is an exciting combo.
BN: Pretty obvious that Bradford anticipated Alexander getting to a spot and Alexander fell down and proceeded to give up on this play. Likely won’t happen here unless Rily Cooper sees a target.
PW: Our first interception of the video comes to us courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens and Alexander getting attacked by the turf monster.
DM: The Rams WRs are the worst I've seen since the 2003 Eagles. This play is worth it just to see Josh McDaniels pout.
PW: Yes! This play really has it all: Play action rollouts, Terrell Suggs being shoved out of the frame, and and incredible throw over Cary Williams for the touchdown. What a thing of beauty. Too bad the Rams were down 30-0 at the time of the throw.
DM: Okay, this is a hell of a throw. On the run, across the body--which is usually a no-no, but at least it's not across the entire field--and another future Eagle to former Eagle against eventual former Eagle! People will go "oh, it's Cary" but only a handful of CBs could break that pass up. Hell of a pass.
BN: WHEW. Escapes the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield and makes a stellar throw. Worth giving the receiver credit for a tough catch, but probably the most impressive play Bradford’s had so far.
PW: Allow me to sum up the first ten minutes of this game: a mediocre team with mediocre talent loses a bunch of games and gives their uneven quarterback no help. On this play, Bradford steps up into the pocket (something he's done quite a bit in the first ten minutes) and throws a great ball downfield to Brandon Gibson, who brings it in and haha no he doesn't he drops it. Sure, Gibson stumbled, but he still dove for the ball and had it in his hands before dropping it.
BN: Stands in the pocket, works through his reads and then back to Gibson. A bit overthrown, but 90% of starting receivers made that play. Bradford has outstanding touch on a lot of these deep passes.
DM: I'm not high on Bradford but I do recognize that he had slop to work with in St. Louis. Case in point, here's another highlight where Brandon Gibson is the downfield threat. Gibson has a career 11.6 y/c, which is lousy. Riley Cooper could start on the Rams. Riley Cooper could start on the Eagles. Sigh.
DM: What the hell is this.
PW: Not a great look from Bradford here. He's got Alexander open after the defender falls down, but Bradford throws it just out of arms reach. He's going to have some speedy targets in Philly, and seeing guys overthrown instead of underthrown might be a nice change. But the offense will need those kinds of big plays in 2015.
BN: Good read, saw his receiver coming open, but weight transfer on the throw is a little iffy and there’s too much air under the pass. Somewhat of a rarity given a lot of his other deep passes.
DM: Sanchez-esque. Jordan Matthews should have no problem adjusting.
BN: Welp. I think his first read was coming open but he came off it too quickly to hit Pettis in the middle of the field. He tried to fit it over the corner but ended up missing a bit high. If he stuck with his first read it may have been a touchdown or a tragically dropped pass.
PW: This is another example of a situation that could be improved simply by a change in the weapons he'll have in Philadelphia. Yes, 4th and 13 is incredibly hard to convert, but it's a lot easier when you have Matthews, Huff, Agholor, Ertz and Darren Sproles over guys like Austin Pettis.
DM: OH COME ON
BN: Great pass by Bradford. Fits the ball into a tight window and his terrible receiver drops it. He puts a lot of zip on these long passes and makes it difficult for defenders to react.
PW: Zach Ertz is gonna eat this season.
DM: Good throw, good placement. So far all but one of these have come with a clean pocket. I'd like to see more with pressure on him.
BN: A play where he trusts his big receiver in traffic. Good to show aggression. Also amazing that Alexander was probably his best target and was still pretty bad.
PW: I think this is where the positional ambiguity of the Eagles' skill position players could come in handy. Find the mismatch, and exploit. I'm guessing Bradford will have to throw fewer contested passes this season.
BN: FLEA FLICKER. This was a dumb throw. Not many receivers are separating vertically against Patrick Peterson. Now, I get that Lloyd was the only read there, but sometimes you just gotta throw it away if the play isn’t there.
DM: Folesian underthrow.
PW: Given everything we've seen from Bradford and his arm to this point, this underthrow is pretty surprising. And given his history with the Rams' receivers, ol' Sammy is probably thinking it's better to chuck it up and hope for a big play than to dink, dunk and drop his way to a three-and-out. But when it's not there, it's not there.
DM: That would have been a nice throw if it was actually on target. You are not getting me excited here, Patrick.
BN: Good read, but misses high again. When testing smaller windows, Bradford is consistently throwing high and away from the defender, which is good, but leads to misses. It works out when he is working with bigger receivers though, which is encouraging with Matthews likely being the guy who is these more contested situations.
PW: You like to see Bradford take shots like this, but I'm guessing these types of misses are from adjusting to NFL talent level... I hope. I don't feel like it's asking much out of your quarterback to have him complete these.
DM: WHY DID YOU SHOW ME THIS. WHY.
PW: Because I love to see you drink, Dave.
BN: Really inaccurate. Gotta guess he felt that pressure coming off the edge and let it get to him.
DM: "Back shoulder throw" is often confused with "poor ball placement." This is the latter.
BN: Sticks with his first read and anticipates Lloyd getting open on the Out. Very savvy pass if I say so myself and not an easy one to make. *Yoda voice* Impressive.
DM: A few seconds before we have a Gus Bus DO YOUR JOB sighting. Or maybe it's Dan Quinn. They look the same to me. Anyways, the play. That's why you don't throw across your body on the run. That could have been a lot worse.
PW: Can we also take a moment to talk about how awful the Seahawks' uniforms used to be? They look like something an unimaginative seventh-grader would have designed in Madden 03. As for the play, Sam probably shouldn't be throwing across his body like that, but the accuracy and velocity are impressive. Then again, I've seen enough plays like that from Michael Vick to last me the rest of my life, thank you very much.
BN: Good job getting outside the pocket and making an accurate throw on the move. Who the hell is Mark Clayton?
DM: Poor throw, classic WTF Brandon Lloyd catch. Won't have that in Philly.
PW: Missin' you, Jason Avant.
BN: Stupid catch by Lloyd on a relatively poorly thrown ball. Still good of Bradford to get that throw off under heavy pressure.
BN: I think Bradford has excellent field vision, and does a good job locating open receivers. I think his mental skill set is better than anything we've had in this offense. On top of that, he has the arm to push the ball to every level of the field, and occasionally shows an aggressive nature when attacking defenses. His feet can go out of sync sometimes on his throws, causing them to sail a bit, but I'm very excited about his fit in this offense--health willing.
DM: I had a few drinks before this. After watching that, I will have a few more. Look at what you've done.
PW: Sorry buddy. I came away feeling a little more positive than you, though. Though these clips obviously don't tell the whole story (I highly recommend watching the entire video), I think Bradford showed enough promise early. Obviously you worry about the David Carr Effect - when a quarterback has been surrounded by a poor supporting cast for so long that his career is basically shot - but I can absolutely see what Chip Kelly saw in this guy.