Student Perspective: Even with Bradford’s help, Rams face an uphill battle for a winning season

Following an optimistic 2-2 start, the St. Louis Rams faced their first taste of true adversity in the 44-6 beat down they received from the previously winless Detroit Lions.  In addition to the heartache from the tough defeat, St. Louis fans are in for more trouble than they could have imagined.
The Rams lost more than the game on Sunday, Oct. 10.  Mark Clayton, a late pick up at wide receiver on Sept. 6, will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.  This is a devastating loss to the up-and-coming team.
Clayton had led the Rams in TDs (2), receiving yards (306), and was a major deep threat that kept some field open for star running back Stephen Jackson.  Previously, the Rams were serious contenders for the NFC West division title, but with this major dent in their already shaky offense, Rams fans should lower any postseason expectations.
Although the Rams pulled off a stunning 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers in week six, playoff hopes remain bleak as the Seattle Seahawks continue their winning ways against the Chicago Bears, and the Arizona Cardinals rest up after a shocking win over the defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints.
So what do fans do when their team is out of contention?  Just ask St. Louis fans from the last four years.  Since 2006, the Rams, Cardinals, and Blues have combined for two playoff appearances and zero postseason wins.  The Cardinals were swept in a best of five series by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009, and the Blues followed suit against the Vancouver Canucks in a best of seven games set in 2009.
The best way to take one’s mind off a dismal team is to focus on individual highpoints.  For instance, Albert Pujols has won two NL MVP awards with astonishing numbers in just about every category known to baseball.  Stephen Jackson has been among the top five running backs in the NFL despite a supporting cast that is weak to say the least.
Fortunately, St. Louisans have a new star to gaze at by the name of Sam Bradford.  Bradford looks to be the savior of the Rams.  The number one draft choice in the 2010 NFL Draft has jumped right into the speed of the NFL and looks as comfortable under pressure as Peyton Manning.
Bradford’s success became apparent after he won the Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his performance in a 20-3 Rams’ win over the Seattle Seahawks.  In his award winning performance, Bradford completed 23 of 41 pass attempts for 289 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
Currently, Bradford is ranked 13th out of 32 starting QBs in the NFL.  Despite his overall ranking, Bradford has one of the worst passer ratings at 69.3.  Passer rating is a statistic that evaluates a quarterback’s performance using a complex calculation taking into account the completions per attempt, yards per attempt, TDs per attempt, and interceptions per attempt.
Certain modifications are imposed to these numbers based on their individual value, and a palpable number is created to represent a very intangible idea.  To put Bradford’s 69.3 into perspective, a perfect passer rating is 158.3, and the best passer rating in professional football, owned by Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles, is 109.0.
The keys to Bradford’s low rating are his eight interceptions and his 28th ranked completion percentage at 56.8.  Even with these seemingly terrible stats, Bradford ascends the list by having six TD passes and a superior 3rd down efficiency that stands with perennial QB greats such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Besides any impressive numbers Bradford may put up, the two wins the Rams already have tell the tale of an improved team.  Old quarterback Marc Bulger was among the worst quarterbacks in football, finishing 24th of 32 last year.  The only reason Bulger avoided landing in dead last was his injury that denied him the chance to continue on his path of losing and poor football.
Bradford’s seven TDs in six games already pass Bulger’s five TDs from the entire 2009 season.  Bradford has quickly broken the 14-game home losing streak with a win over the Washington Redskins and the 10-game losing streak to the Seahawks, doubling Bulger’s win total.
With 10 games remaining, Rams fans can look forward to watching the young rookie progress on his sure path to superstardom.  A couple more wins should be expected from home games against the struggling Carolina Panthers in week eight and against the currently 0-5 San Francisco 49ers in week 16.
Following the 2010-11 NFL season, the Rams should utilize their draft to pick up a dominant wide receiver and perhaps some reinforced protection for Bradford up front.  With a superb draft, the Rams could be in serious contention for the NFC West title and on the path to becoming a true Super Bowl contender.
Statistics compiled from