Ahhh…can you sense the excitement? The buzz around town. The non-stop coverage has intensified even more. We are just 11 days from the start of the 2014 NFL season. Wait! What was that? It sounded like the just of winds from a thunderstorm. No, the sun is out, it’s just the hopes and dreams of the St. Louis Rams faithful being let go for another season. With one play on Saturday night, a simple hit, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a torn ACL to the same knee that caused him to miss half of the 2013 season. All of a sudden an off-season that was spent talking about the Rams taking the next step; the excitement over reaching that third year of the rebuilding process for the Fisher/Snead regime; the beefed up offensive line and newly found weapons…..all of that gone in….one….simple….play.
First and foremost I feel sorry for Sam Bradford. A player that has been in the crosshairs of Rams fans since he was first drafted and people argued whether they should take him or Ndamukong Suh. He seemed to quiet those questions after a solid rookie season but then started the changes in offensive schemes, the lack of offensive linemen and weapons, and most importantly injuries. Bradford was questioned when the Rams decided to trade their #2 overall pick for the right to draft Robert Griffin III (which was a smart move still) and then yet again questioned this past off-season when the Rams held another high pick where quarterbacks are typically drafted. Yet by no fault of his own we will likely never get to see what Sam Bradford could have been. He was on a roll last year when his knee gave out. And despite it being pre-season he looked like he was throwing the ball harder and with accuracy this year with the best wide receivers he has had when his knee gave out once again. Side note: It seems that Bradford likes to have Deja Vu in regards to injuries. He injured his shoulder as a junior at Oklahoma in early September then a month and a half later re-injured it, knocking him out for the year. Bradford first hurt his knee in 2013 then in week three of 2014 pre-season hurt it again. I truly do feel sorry for the guy.
I can already hear the local sports radio shows and internet boards lining up their callers who will say “see told you so about Bradford”. I am here to say that is first of all just ridiculous. If you are a fan and you are happy that Bradford got hurt because it supposedly “proves your point”, then you aren’t a fan. No fan of a team should root for any of their players to get hurt let alone fail. There have been players I have not liked among the teams I root for but I still root for the team. For those fans that will use this as evidence they should have drafted a quarterback in last year’s draft. I have stated and will always state just because you may need or want something does not mean you should get it. Could the Rams have used a development quarterback, sure; as any team could. But why waste a high pick just because you want that position. I have likened it before to craving a steak. You want a steak but are in the middle of no-where. Do you stop and eat at Ponderosa or do you wait until you get to a big city for someplace like Ruth Chris Steakhouse?
So now where do the Rams go from here? I think they stay with Shaun Hill. The Rams are obviously a team that will focus on ball-control (this was obvious even with Bradford in there). Hill is a capable backup and despite not seeing any significant playing time in the last three years he has been serviceable before (2600 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010). It was great foresight by the Rams to sign Hill this off-season and get a quarterback that can throw the ball beyond 15 yards unlike their backup from last year. How about the Rams beyond this year? Bradford still has one more year on his deal but with a cap hit of $16.5 million. That means the Rams and Bradford will part ways likely unless something is worked out. From my perspective I see them adding years on, getting a sever discount in salary. Bradford can no longer be considered a true #1 quarterback because of his injury history. However he does still have the talent of a #1 overall pick and wouldn’t it be nice to have him there in case he can stay healthy. The Rams have to take a quarterback in the first round next year. A quarterback class that is much more capable than this past year’s class. Next year’s signal callers include Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Bryce Petty (all of whom would likely have been taken ahead of any of the 2014 quarterback prospects) as well as Brett Hundley. What about re-signing Hill for another year this off-season, re-structuring Bradford’s contract, and drafting one of the aforementioned prospects? Not a bad trio of signal callers I think.
The 2014 Rams can still have a solid season. It likely will not be where they hoped without the talented arm of Bradford (and whether or not you are a fan of Bradford you must admit he is more talented than Hill). However the Rams can still run the ball with their beefed up line and play tough hard hitting defense while allowing Hill to pick apart defenses and connect with a group of receivers that have looked much better this pre-season than ever before. The Rams should still battle to be a .500 team, and while I know that is not what I or many Rams fans hoped for just one week ago, it is better than where we were three years ago.