I had an extra 90 minutes tonight so I decided to take some time and break down what I thought of Sam Bradford. It was a very interesting hour, and I've come to some conclusions about our soon-to-be-foe. He's young. Boy is he young. Still I was very surprised at some of the "savvy-veteran" tools I noticed in his repertoire. I don't have the time to put together my full note sheet ala John Morgan, but I'll still share some of my conclusions.
- Cadence: Wow his cadence is good. At least 4 times in the first half (I stopped keeping track in the second half) Bradford was able to take the bite out of the Redskins rush with a varied and very strong cadence. This isn't the sort of thing rookie QB's do well, and that extra few tenths of a second you buy your offensive lineman can mean the difference between a tackle successfully clearing the edge and the QB eating grass.
- Accuracy: Announcers love talking about "tight windows" in the NFL. This kid could throw a football into a mailbox hanging out the back of moving pickup. Arm strength, confidence and anticipation were on display in abundance. Give him a clean pocket and he's going to do mean things to your defense.
- Patience: This one is another thing that young QB's (especially high draft picks) tend to overlook: Taking what the defense gives you. Bradford checked down, threw it away and generally didn't make the "whirlybird" plays that other *cough* Matthew *cough* QBs made their signature in their early days.
- Play Action: The point of a play action is to freeze the linebackers and create those extra two yards of separation between level 2 and 3 of the defense. In order to have a successful play action you need to act like you're handing the ball off. Bradford absolutely sucks at this. He doesn't show the ball, doesn't emphasize the action and pulls the ball back too quickly. I guess I'm picky but this is one of those things that a pro should be able to do perfectly every time. Its nothing but practice and repetition to make the PA automatic -- Bradford is not there. Bradford is not even close.
- Mike Vick syndrome: Memo to Earl Thomas. Cheat on this guy. If he glances left...break. That's where the ball is going.
- Awkward angles: This is probably my most subjective conclusion, but I think also the one that gives me the most hope for Sunday. Bradford makes great throws when he has a clean pocket to step into, or when he is on the move. When Bradford doesn't have that his accuracy disappears like cocaine in LiLo's house.
Overall I'm terrified for the future of the NFC West. All his flaws are fixable, and when he grows up he's going to be the best QB in the division for a number of years unless the 49er's get someone ridiculous with the first overall. He's not there yet, and we're going to make him pay on Sunday, because our defense will collapse the pocket on him, but this kid is going to be special.