No question, Sam Bradford is regressing.
Here are his passer ratings, week by week, through four games:
San Francisco, 59.4
Bradford’s overall accuracy isn’t as bad as I believed; according to STATS the percentage of his incompletions that resulted from a bad throw is considerably better this season compared to 2012 and 2011.
The main issue is Bradford’s terrible accuracy when under pass-rush pressure. To varying degrees, all quarterbacks have to operate with onrushing defenders in their face. Some deal with it better than others.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bradford has been under pressure on 38.3 percent of his dropbacks this season, and that’s the 11th-highest rate among NFL starters.
The last two games have been especially brutal, with the Cowboys and 49ers combining for 11 sacks, five hits and 24 hurries on the Rams’ QB.
And the numbers make it clear that Bradford is doing a poor job of getting the ball to his receivers when confronted with the pass rush.
According to Pro Football Focus:
When Bradford hasn’t been pressured this season, he’s completed 85 of 119 passes (71.4 percent) for 801 yards, seven TDs, three interceptions and a fine passer rating of 98.8.
But when Bradford is pressured, he’s completed only 22 of 63 (35 percent) for 294 yards with no TDs or INTs and a passer rating of 50.6.
Pro Football Focus rightly adjusts the accuracy rating to account for dropped passes and intentional throwaways.
In the adjusted accuracy rating under pressure, Bradford’s completion rate of 48.1 percent ranks 28th among that 30 quarterbacks that have taken at least 50 percent of the snaps.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer isn’t giving Bradford much if any help with his consistently dreadful play calling and appallingly bad game plans.
The offensive line has been overrun in the last two games, and Bradford has been victimized by too many dropped passes (15 in four games.)
Bradford has no running game to work with; the Rams are on pace to set a franchise record for fewest rushing yards per game in a season. And judging from what we've seen through four games, this team doesn't have a legitimate starting NFL running back. Not even close.
But the rationalizations only go so far.
Quarterbacks have to step up and make big throws even as the large and hostile invaders close in to deliver punishment.
I went to Pro Football Focus to look at the adjusted accuracy ratings of the 10 quarterbacks that have encountered a higher percentage of dropbacks under pressure than Bradford this season.
Here are the QBs adjusted accuracy ratings when under fire more frequently than Bradford:
Brandon Weeden, 59.3 percent
Michael Vick, 50 pct.
Matt Ryan, 63.6 pct.
Matt Schaub, 67.4 pct.
Ben Roethlisberger, 61.5 pct.
Eli Manning, 61.1 pct.
Andrew Luck, 53.1 pct.
Jake Locker, 60 pct.
Terrelle Pryor, 60 pct.
Christian Ponder, 67.9 pct.
And again, by comparison, Bradford’s adjusted accuracy “pressure” rate is a low 48.1 percent.
That’s a big problem.
In what was probably the biggest play of Thursday’s game from the Rams’ standpoint, Bradford misfired on an easy touchdown connection with Austin Pettis. With the 49ers blowing an assignment and Pettis running all alone, Bradford threw a wild, wide pass that didn’t come close to hitting the target.
Sure, Bradford had a Niner pass rusher coming at him, but that completion had to be made. It wasn’t and the Rams had to settle for a field goal. It was a demoralizing moment in a game that quickly got away from the Rams.
It leads me to wonder if Bradford isn’t succumbing to what I dubbed (years ago) The Battered Quarterback Syndrome. I applied that term to Marc Bulger, who was burned out by the physical and mental punishment of playing on an increasingly bad team that left him exposed to violent blows.
Those more sympathetic of Bradford would attribute at least some of the deterioration to the gradual effect of hits, and the corrosive repercussions of losing and failure.
Those less sympathetic of Bradford would dismiss this with a wave of the hand, insisting that he isn’t a good quarterback _ end of argument.
I think there's truth in both theories.
Bradford hasn't had an easy road here, and it's ludicrous to suggest that he has.
On the other hand, he isn't as good as I believed he'd be.
Bradford should be better than this.
That's my bottom line, and it comes from a guy who doesn't automatically blame the QB for anything and everything that's bad. Intelligent people realize this is a team game.
But we all can see that Bradford is regressing. He was alarmingly ineffective against a 49ers defense that was missing two All-Pro players, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis.
It would be nice if the Rams could offer a rushing attack and a coherent game plan in support Bradford ... but if he isn’t getting that it’s still no excuse for missing open receivers.
Bradford made progress in a lot of areas in 2012. That included a 61 percent adjusted accuracy rate when he threw under pressure. But nowadays Sam looks like a quarterback that's falling apart. And I don't know if he'll be able to pull himself together.
We'll see over the next 12 games.
Thanks for reading ...