Sam Bradford vs the Giants: Bright lights, big moment

This game is big for Sam Bradford.

Yes, every game is big, and this game is important for the whole Rams team. After a week one loss that turned ugly late, they need to come back with a strong effort and find a way to put a W in the standings. They’ll need a couple of those before the calendar turns to October, when the Rams’ schedule gets brutal. And this Giants team is dangerous but injury-riddled and inconsistent, ripe for an upset.

But this isn’t about the Giants. It’s about the Rams’ young quarterback, and the necessary next step in his NFL evolution – the emergence of Big Game Bradford.

Sam played exceptionally well for a rookie, particularly during a midseason stretch of six games where he threw 11 touchdowns to 1 interception. But since then, as the pressure has ratcheted up, the results of his play have ratcheted down. It’s time to take the Rams-colored glasses off for a moment, where we can only see Bradford riding down Market Street on the back of a convertible under a shower of blue and gold ticker tape.

The Rams have lost five and won only two of his last seven starts. 

In those five losses, Sam has thrown five interceptions and put the ball on the ground three times, and does not have a touchdown pass.

In the win-and-you’re-in season finale, and again in their season opener, Sam and his receivers have been painfully out of sync. His throws have been either off the mark or off their hands and on the carpet. In both games his game speed has felt rushed, his throws coming at a higher velocity than normal. His receivers, used to the lambs-wool-soft ball Bradford throws in practice, have been slow to adjust. Now he has the added pressure of proving that he’s 100% after bruising nerves in his right index finger.

No one who knows Bradford’s pedigree or who has watched his career doubts his talent or his play-making ability. And certainly no one doubts his competitive drive. But as Torry “Big Game” Holt suggests, Bradford doesn’t have to respond to the brighter lights and the greater stakes by placing more pressure on himself or his teammates.

This is the advice Torry would deliver to Sam, in preparation for Monday Night’s game.

@RamsHerd Relax and allow your teammates to help you WIN the game as well. They will have to play strong team ball for 4 qtrs.

Bradford has taken on the leadership mantle for this team. This is his team, and this Monday Night game is the Rams’ chance to reemerge on the national stage. This is a huge game. But Bradford doesn’t have to worry about any of that.

All he has to do is relax and let the moment come to him. Let the ball find his playmakers. The rest will take care of itself.