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How defenses have taken away Sam Bradford’s fastball

It looks like Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has hit a rookie wall.  He’s thrown five interceptions with no touchdowns over the last three weeks.  The dink-and-dunk Rams offense has grown even less explosive.

ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, who said he was thoroughly impressed with Bradford overall, believes the “wall” may really be defenses figuring Bradford out.  Dilfer said on ESPN Radio 101 in St. Louis that Bradford likes to get out of the pocket and is not always a “progression” passer.  Defenses have taken away Bradford’s fastball of late by keeping him in the pocket and taking away quick throws.

“You know you don’t want to Sam Bradford to be on the move,” Dilfer said.   “One of the ways you protect Sam and that offensive line is a lot of bootleg and play-action passes. . . . Then all of a sudden teams say, ‘Wait a second, we can take away the quick throw, we make him go somewhere else with the ball, make him wait.'”

Dilfer went on in greater detail about how teams have taken away Bradford’s strength.  (It can be heard in full right here.)  He gave Bradford a lot of credit, but said it will be very difficult for Bradford to truly adjust and improve this late in his rookie season.  It’s one reason why we continue to suspect the 49ers will sneak in the playoffs  as NFC West champions.

“You can only smoke-and-mirror [defenses] for so long, and it’s catching up to them,” Dilfer said.

[Hat tip to ESPN’s Mike Sando for pointing out this interview.]

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21 Responses to “How defenses have taken away Sam Bradford’s fastball”
  1. dryheaveone says: Dec 24, 2010 11:25 AM

    It’s too bad Dilfer didn’t have any talent, with all that knowledge he could have been a hall of famer.

  2. bspurloc says: Dec 24, 2010 11:29 AM

    amendola had his normal number of catches last week. sucks he gets 10 catches a game and no touchdowns.

  3. karlosmus says: Dec 24, 2010 11:36 AM

    Other things Dilfer can investigate:
    1. How to lead a team to touchdown-free play for LESS than 6 games
    2. How to keep a QB job after winning the Super Bowl. Well, after watching your felonious, drug trafficking, stabby knife defense win a Super Bowl.

  4. jbizzle69 says: Dec 24, 2010 11:42 AM

    Listening to Trent Dilfer and Tim Hasslebeck on ESPN makes my head hurt. NFLN is leaps and bounds better than ESPN, and it’s not even close.

  5. xtb3 says: Dec 24, 2010 11:43 AM

    you can expect bradford to have a big game sunday now that the self proclaimed talking head FORMER player has spoken!

  6. prior0knowledge says: Dec 24, 2010 11:47 AM

    The summary of Dilfer’s comments in GR’s article do not represent how highly Dilfer thinks of Bradford. Every other sentence is a complement of Bradford. His analysis just shows how difficult it is for a rookie QB with limited NFL experience to succeed over an entire year. Defenses catch up to the QB’s tendencies and the rookie QB does not have enough range of experience to do everything a top flight NFL QB can do.

    This just shows that except for the super athletes like Vick, it is a 2 to 3 year learning experience to become a top flight NFL QB even with top flight raw talent.

  7. okiny says: Dec 24, 2010 12:08 PM

    Yes, Dilfer was a “game manager” who only won a Super Bowl because of his teams defense. Yes, he isn’t Marino, Montana, or Elway. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he is talking about as an analyst. I don’t always agree with him, but he is on the money in this case. He isn’t knocking Bradford, just making an observation. His prowess (or lack thereof) on the field has nothing to do with what he is reporting, so please stop all of those inconsequential arguments. Look at what he said, and you will realize he is insightful, and more importantly, corrrect.

  8. boneyardbuc says: Dec 24, 2010 12:13 PM

    2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year = Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Williams

  9. skurdzzz says: Dec 24, 2010 12:18 PM

    actually i endorse dilfers analyses of this. but no problem. look at the roster of recievers samford has. then look at the ram record last year. now look at the rams challenging for a DIVISION TITLE and a PLAYOFF SPOT in what is the greatest turnaround in the history of sport. win or lose bradford is going to be a great qb for a long time, spags is making his mark, and the rams are on the road back to the superbowl. just a matter of 2 good drafts and one good trade.
    the 9ers will find a way to blow it if we dont simply kick them a new orifice. you can count on singleton to penalize his team right out of town. the seahawks? pffffffft! ram jackson down the 9ers throat until they are gagging like rex ryan at a sandal sale and we will be alright.

  10. mswravens says: Dec 24, 2010 12:49 PM

    @karlosmus…you so funny…NOT!

    More importantly, you’re an idiot. Get your facts straight…and I don’t mean the BS you spew about the defense, but the BS you spew about Dilfer. He wasn’t the starting QB for the 5 TD-less games. Look it up…if you know how to read…and a Merry Christmas to you!

  11. birdman1984 says: Dec 24, 2010 1:02 PM

    Great article. That was some quality quoting/paraphrasing.

  12. bradybunch12 says: Dec 24, 2010 1:10 PM

    @ prior0knowledge and okiny

    I totally agree with both your comments, I’ll even say this to all the knuckleheads who think because Dilfer was more of a game manager he can’t analize and make insightfull comments on other players, your dead wrong, and as some one who played sports at a high enough level I’m here to tell you more often than not average players make better coaches than great players.
    (ie.) Bill Belichick arguably the greatest coach in the NFL. never played Football in the NFL. Mike Singletary great NFL. Football player sucks as a head coach.

  13. hobartbaker says: Dec 24, 2010 1:23 PM

    But Sam will always have his knuckler.

  14. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: Dec 24, 2010 1:37 PM

    The Shanahan family “braintrust”
    would have benched him.

  15. iggles55 says: Dec 24, 2010 3:59 PM

    Braford will be fine. Growing pains is all.

  16. warriorking1112 says: Dec 24, 2010 4:16 PM

    lmao vick a superathlete?lmao he has pretty good receivers compared to Bradford! I bet sam would be having a tom brady like season if he had what herpes has to work with!

  17. gorilladunk says: Dec 24, 2010 4:27 PM

    I think some of Sam’s troubles are related to his being a rookie and all, but they are greatly enhanced by the pitiful collection of receivers he has to throw to. The Rams offense is the most pedestrian in the league and to think they’ve won 6 games is a near miracle. I just wonder where everyone is who proclaimed last spring that Bradford wouldn’t last a game or two due to his “glass” shoulder. Where are these “so called experts” now ??

  18. commandercornpone says: Dec 24, 2010 6:22 PM

    rams biggest turnaround ever?

    not compared to the falcons and fins a few years ago.

  19. skurdzzz says: Dec 24, 2010 9:24 PM

    no? wrong.

  20. g3ts0me says: Dec 25, 2010 7:34 AM


    biggest turnaround ever? in the god awful NFC west, I don’t think so. you don’t get much respect for beating sub .500 teams.

    also niners EMBARRASSED the rams last year. this year the rams still managed to lose even with the niners having two huge touchdowns called back, choke artists that they are.

    Lambs, what a joke

  21. runtheball says: Dec 25, 2010 8:25 AM

    Dilfer is a joke as an analyst he hypes the guys that are represented by his agent and bad mouths most others.

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