St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have done everything in their power to equip franchise quarterback Sam Bradford with viable pass-catchers. A year after adding wide receivers Chris Givens and Brian Quick, the organization spent big during the 2013 offseason.
Tight end Jared Cook was brought in to put pressure on opposing defenses up the seam, while wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey were drafted to create mismatches all over the field. Unfortunately for the Rams, Bradford and his new-look offense have failed to make any headway through four weeks of the season.
With plenty of blame to go around, who’s really at fault in St. Louis?
Some may say offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. It’s hard to argue with that sentiment, based on the fact he lacks creativity as a play-caller. In addition to zero creativity, Schottenheimer is about as conservative as it gets.
He rarely dials up a pass that puts stress on the back end of a defense. When you have explosive playmakers like Givens, Austin and Cook, why not take a shot every now and again?
If Schottenheimer isn’t maddening enough, maybe Fisher is the deep-rooted problem. Is the 18-year head coach really worth his $7 million a year, or is he the definition of mediocrity? Over the course of his coaching tenure, he has managed to compile a regular-season record of 150-130-1.
Let me get this right...Fisher is one of the highest-paid coaches in the league because he wins 53 percent of the time. OK then. The Rams should really have higher standards.
Nonetheless, Fisher is the least of St. Louis’ laundry list of worries at the moment.
Without question, no one is taking more heat than Bradford. His uninspiring play, which extends back to last season, begs the ultimate question: Is it officially time for the Rams to consider replacing their once prized possession?
With two first-round picks in 2014, the idea of replacing Bradford isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Moreover, next year’s quarterback class is loaded with star-studded talent. Tajh Boyd, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota and David Fales could all be realistic options on Day 1 of the draft.
Odds are the Rams won’t be tanking for Teddy Bridgewater. If the Louisville junior declares for the draft, it’s almost certain he will be the No. 1 pick in April. One thing to surely keep an eye on is how the Redskins finish the season, since St. Louis acquired Washington's 2014 first-rounder as part the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012.
A top-10 selection may fall into St. Louis’ lap when one takes the time to consider how poorly the 0-3 Redskins are playing. Losses tend to mount after a devastating start to the season.
Aside from Snead’s public support of Bradford, there is only one obstacle the Rams would have to clear if they decided it was time to move on from the former No. 1 overall pick. Prior to the 2013 season, there was little the team could do about his salary. But that all changes in 2014.
According to Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com, St. Louis could save $10.4 million by cutting Bradford. This is a significant amount considering he carries a cap hit of $17.4 million next year.
Yet, his contract would be a complete non-factor if he displayed the ability and required traits of a franchise quarterback. Since entering the league in 2010, the analysts at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) have graded him out at negative-16 overall in 46 career games.
With a number as dismal as his PFF rating, it’s hard to even call Bradford an average QB right now. After his poor Week 4 showing on Thursday Night Football, he is now the third-worst quarterback in the league behind EJ Manuel and Colin Kaepernick, per PFF.
Apparently, the United Kingdom-based analytics website isn’t the only one that thinks Bradford has turned into one of the NFL’s most inferior quarterbacks. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com compared him to the recently benched Josh Freeman, and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN joked Thursday night that Bradford looks like Mark Sanchez.
Those two tweets are just a small sample size—a simple Twitter search will easily illustrate that fans and media members alike feel the exact same way.
With time ticking away in St. Louis, the honeymoon period for Fisher and Snead is drawing to a close. The front-office duo needs to start looking ahead and planning for the future, because it’s apparent that Sam Bradford doesn’t have the necessary skills to take this team to the promised land.