Make or break year for Sam Bradford

Make or break year for Sam Bradford as Rams attempt to go "more high octane" on offense

5/28/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Make or break year for Sam BradfordAfter being drafted first overall in 2010, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford hasn't entirely lived up to the hype he received coming out of Oklahoma. Don't get me wrong - Bradford is no JaMarcus Russell, but while he has had some solid campaigns, he hasn't done quite enough to warrant his status as a top draft pick.

Then again, the Rams haven't done a whole lot to give Bradford a chance to be productive. They have slowly been piecing together an offensive line, and they haven't given Bradford many weapons in the passing game. Bradford has had three different leading receivers during his three years in the league, showing the team's lack of a consistent pass catcher. In addition, Bradford has never had a reliable pass catching tight end.

Even head coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged Bradford's lack of a supporting cast, saying during a radio interview in February that "[Bradford's] play was directly affected by the people around him."

Despite their struggle for consistent offense, the Rams have finally put together an offensive line and array of weapons that they feel Bradford can succeed with. They drafted Tavon Austin - the most electrifying playmaker in this year's draft - who should provide Bradford with some easy underneath targets and big play ability. The Rams also signed Jared Cook, a 26-year-old tight end with loads of potential in the receiving game who has been underutilized to this point in his career. With Chris Givens coming off a strong rookie year, and Brian Quick hoping to make an impact in his second NFL season, the Rams are ready to put the ball in Bradford's hands and let him sling it around quite a bit.

It was reported two months ago that Bradford would receive more responsibility at the line of scrimmage in 2013, and now that he has some lethal weapons to throw to, he'll be the unquestioned centerpiece of the offense. With Bradford ready to take the reigns, the Rams will reportedly be moving to a "more high octane" offense, according to the team's website.

The Rams are following a similar path to what the Atlanta Falcons did with Matt Ryan. Running back Michael Turner was the focal point of the Falcons' offense during Ryan's first four years in Atlanta. Once the Falcons felt that they had surrounded Ryan with enough talent (Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez), they made him the cynosure of the offense. This approach worked very well for Ryan, who had what was easily the best season of his career in 2012.

In the Rams' case, they had featured running back Steven Jackson for Bradford's first three seasons in the league. They let Jackson walk after he opted out of his contract, and they now hope that Austin, Givens, and Cook can be their version of what Ryan is throwing to over in Atlanta. Though Bradford has not had as productive a start to his career as Ryan did, there is a legitimate chance that this could be his breakout season.

If Bradford fails to be productive in 2013, however, there are many people who believe that the Rams will begin looking elsewhere for their signal caller of the future. I'd put my money on Bradford showing enough for the Rams to stick with him, but we'll have to wait until September to begin finding that out.
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