How good will the Patriots make Sam Bradford look?
|10.23.12 at 1:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — So far this season, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning and Mark Sanchez have all thrown for over 300 yards against the Patriots, while Russell Wilson came seven yards away from the feat. Will Sam Bradford be the next signal-caller to go to town on New England’s secondary?
Since taking the Rams from being a one-win team to a 7-9 record in his season rookie season, Bradford hasn’t seen his numbers or the Rams progress much. Now in his third season, the 2010 first overall pick has just 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over his last two campaigns (a 17-game span since he missed six games last season), while the Rams finished with the second-worst record in the league last season, earning them the pick that they flipped to Washington for a boatload of draft currency.
Yet while the numbers might not be pretty for Bradford, one shouldn’t underestimate the highly talented 24-year old.
“Very good passer,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Bradford on Tuesday. “We played against him here [in the preseason] a couple years ago. Of course, talking to Josh [McDaniels] about him, who had him last year, I think this guy’s a very, very good quarterback. I think he’s smart, sees coverages well, reads things well, has a good understanding of the passing game, accurate throwing the ball, good mechanics, a tough kid. I think he’s got a lot going for him. He’s a good quarterback.”
The last time the Pats saw Bradford in that 2010 preseason game, he stole the show with the help of a current Patriot. Bradford hit tight end Michael Hoomanawanui on four connections for 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Rams beat the Pats, 36-35.
While Bradford went to Hoomanawanui often in his half of work in that preseason meeting, his targets have obviously changed over the years. His favorite target these days, slot receiver Danny Amendola, suffered a rare injury involving the dislocation of his clavicle in what could have been a life-threatening injury in Week 4 against the Cardinals and has been out since then. Even having missed the last two games, Amendola still leads the Cardinals in receptions (32) and receiving yards (395), while his 49 targets on the season is 10 more than the next guy in line, receiver Brandon Gibson.
With Amendola out, Bradford has focused more on the likes of Gibson (seven targets last week against Green Bay), Steve Smith (6) and Chris Givens (4). Austin Pettis has played in Amendola’s slot role.
Bradford has thrown for 300 yards just twice through the first seven weeks of the season, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he becomes the latest to accomplish the feat against the Pats. One advantage the Patriots hope to have with Bradford is his former offensive coordinator in McDaniels.
“I hope so,” safety Steve Gregory said Tuesday when asked if McDaniels can help them prepare for Bradford. “We’ll find out. I haven’t talked with him yet, but we hope. We’ll watch that guy on film. He’s a good quarterback, he spreads the ball around, so we’ll have to be ready for him and try to pick up on some of his tendencies and things that he’s doing on the field.”