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Thoughts on Sam Bradford and the Rams

What to make of Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams following their 19-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns during the second week of the 2010 exhibition season:

  • Hard rains made game conditions sloppy. Both teams' offenses bogged down in the conditions. The exception was when A.J. Feeley was at quarterback for the Rams. Feeley's command of the offense separated him from the other quarterbacks in this game, particularly early. He was able to run the Rams' offense more precisely. It helped, too, that Steven Jackson was in the game for the one drive Feeley led. Quarterbacks for both teams had trouble securing the ball from center in the wet conditions, throwing off rhythm right away.

  • Feeley's experience helped him take what the Browns' defense was giving him. That meant throwing underneath to tight ends Billy Bajema and Daniel Fells.

  • The Rams' pass protection showed improvement from last week. The Browns do not rush the passer as well as Week 1 opponent Minnesota rushes the passer. That accounted for part of the difference. The Rams' offensive tackles also showed improvement. The Browns got pressure on blitzes, which is easy to do during the exhibition season because offenses aren't game-planning nearly as much.

  • How much better was the Rams' pass protection? Bernie Kosar, providing commentary on the Browns' broadcast, at one point said, "Fantastic job of pass protection by the St. Louis Rams." There never would have been a chance to utter that sentence a week earlier.

  • The Rams got what they wanted from a couple key veterans they added in free agency. On defense, tackle Fred Robbins had a sack and a fumble recovery. On offense, Feeley ran the system effectively before -- and even immediately after -- suffering a thumb injury, but the Rams took him out of the game after the opening drive to a touchdown. Giving Feeley time to heal could work to the Rams' favor in the long term. Feeley already knows the offense. He doesn't need as much work. Starting Bradford during the third exhibition game could make it easier for the Rams to start Bradford in Week 1 of the regular season.

  • Bradford isn't yet playing fast enough. That will change as he gains more game experience. The conditions made it especially tough for Bradford to function quickly and efficiently. Bradford has yet to play a game with Jackson in the backfield. That should change next week. Jackson is the one Rams player defenses fear. Bradford needs him. Bradford could also use more help from teammates. Bajema dropped a third-down pass early in the game. I wasn't seeing many open receivers, either.

  • Mardy Gilyard made three Browns miss during a 23-yard punt return early in the game. Gilyard enjoyed a strong week of practices, easily his best as a pro.

Overall, the Rams needed to see better pass protection in this game, and they got it. They wanted to see Bradford get into a rhythm and move the offense, but it didn't really happen. That will come with experience, better conditions and a little more help. Bradford never faced a third-down distance shorter than 8 yards. His third-down distances in order: third-and-8, 9, 9, 10, 14, 17, 8 and 8. Getting Jackson onto the field would help bring down those distances for Bradford, putting him in better position to succeed.