By Brad Cavanagh and Tom Melton
How do you think Sam Bradford has performed thus far?
Tom Melton: Sam Bradford has certainly outperformed my personal expectations that I had for him, but I thought he was going to be a bust if he started from Day 1 as a rookie. I definitely underrated his intelligence and his intangibles, which are incredibly important for a quarterback’s transition to the NFL. When you think of the QBs who have transitioned well to the NFL in recent years, you think of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez; all three of those players have impressive intangibles, which aided in their early success as starters in the NFL.
Brad Cavanagh: Sam Bradford has outperformed the expectations set for him before the season by most critics (like Tom Melton). Despite criticism and doubt, he has helped turn the Rams around offensively. As a rookie he has a completion percentage of 60.2 despite losing both Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery to season-ending injuries, leaving him with no receiving core.
TM: Now, I can admit when I am wrong about a prospect, and I certainly have been thus far about Bradford, but I personally believe his stat line is a little bit misleading. 210 of his 334 attempts have been on passes of 10 yards or less, and his low yards per attempt average of 5.76 indicates that a lot of his passes are dump-offs, slants and screen passes. These are simple throws for any NFL QB to complete, and it seems to me they are not confident in his ability to challenge defenses downfield.
BC: While this is true, Bradford has done something fantastic without a receiving core aside from Steven Jackson, with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and without a solid running back to open up the passing game. The Rams run a very quick-pass oriented offense at this moment because of these setbacks, and Bradford is making something with nothing in this offense, consistently hooking up with Jackson in his big games.
TM: I don’t think the Rams plan for the short passing attack and are instead playing to Bradford’s strengths. Bradford does not read defenses well yet, and when he has to, he consistently holds onto the ball for too long. I think as he gets more comfortable in the NFL the Rams offense will open up, but as I said, Bradford’s stats are misleading.
What about Colt McCoy?
BC: I personally have been very surprised at Colt McCoy’s progression to the NFL and an under center offense rather than the traditional shotgun spread of Texas. The Browns have struggled offensively this season, and with the play of Wallace and Delhomme, giving McCoy a chance was a risk the Browns needed to take. Overall, I think McCoy’s vision has improved, and his accuracy is on par for a franchise’s starting quarterback.
TM: I too have been surprised by McCoy’s rookie performance; much like Sam Bradford, I underestimated his intangibles and agree with you, Brad, that I was also surprised at his progression to an under center offense. I haven’t seen him play in more than one game this year, but his decision making is better than I expected.
Can you solely blame Wade Phillips for the Cowboys’ season, and should Jerry Jones have fired him?
BC: No and yes. Coaching is never the sole reason a team slips to a season standing such as the Cowboys have. Players must actually play to their potential and give effort to be successful, and recently the Cowboys seem to have forgotten that fact. As a coach, it is your responsibility to get the players to give their all, and Phillips did not succeed in this aspect, resulting in his termination. Garrett has turned them around and fostered their talent, resulting in the Giants getting their asses kicked thoroughly.
TM: I agree no and yes, but I believe Phillips deserves more of the blame than what you say. I think the Cowboys became stale, and Phillips lacked the leadership to lead a team with as much talent as the Cowboys. This change was needed. Now with Garrett at the helm there should be some fresh ideas, and hopefully he will give the team direction and motivation headed into next season if he is kept as the head coach.
BC: So Tom, what are the chances that the Vikings will try to swoop up Garrett? I think that if he is not kept on, Childress will be fired and Garrett will lead the Vikings.
TM: I think Childress will be fired regardless of whether or not Garrett is let go. I think the Vikings would be wise to pursue Garrett, but they need to keep an eye on Frazier or he may get head coaching attention as well.
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