Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. Quarterback being the most important position doesn’t mean success or failure is 100 percent dependent on the singular position.
Injuries happen to QBs and teams can either come together to move past it or falter. Two extremes of these situations involve two of the greatest signal callers of all time – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
During the 2008 season the New England Patriots lost Brady in their opening game. They didn’t make the playoffs, but still finished the year with an 11-5 record.
During the 2011 season the Indianapolis Colts had to play without Manning. They fell apart and went 2-14.
A lot goes into each scenario, most importantly the surrounding talent and coaching.
The St. Louis Rams lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the season to a torn ACL in their third preseason game. Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma in the 2010 draft, but he’s never lived up to the expectations. St. Louis replacing the former Sooners star is nothing like having a backup step in for Brady or Manning.
During his career, Bradford’s numbers look solid and if you go just off the raw data it even looks like he’s taking the necessary steps you look for in a young QB. The last two seasons he’s completed right around 60% of his passes with 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
The problem with Bradford is he doesn’t stretch the field. His yards per attempt for his career is 6.29 and in today’s NFL that’s an unacceptable number. Last season there was 18 quarterbacks that averaged over seven yards per attempt including names such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Andy Dalton and Josh McCown.
According to footballoutsiders.com the highest the Rams passing DVOA has ranked during Bradford’s four years is 17th — it bottomed out at 31. They’ve never been an above average passing offense.
Replacing Bradford will be 13th year veteran Shaun Hill. Hill has spent time with the Vikings, 49ers and Lions. He hasn’t started a game since 2010 when he filled in for an injured Matt Stafford. That concluded a run of where he started 24 games in three seasons – 14 in 2008 and 2009 with San Francisco and 10 with the Lions.
Across those seasons Hill went 11-13 as a starter completing 61.1% of his passes with 34 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and 6.6 yards per attempt.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport went as far to tweet this out on Monday:
Talked to 2 GMs about Shaun Hill’s preseason. The message was the same: “You know, he’s really not bad. Better than a few starters in @NFL.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 25, 2014
Unless Bradford was set to make an incredible leap in his play, which there is no way to know, the difference between Hill and Bradford is negligible.
St. Louis ability to complete in the difficult NFC West this season is still going to come down to the factors they were going to before the Bradford injury.
Will their secondary be able to compliment arguably the best defensive line in the NFL?
Can their offensive line dominate the line scrimmage to build a strong running game to compliment an average quarterback?
Is Brian Schottenheimer a competent offensive coordinator to get the most out of his unit?
This Rams season was always going to be about if they built a strong enough supporting cast on both sides of the ball to get around the production at quarterback.
The fact the name has gone from Sam Bradford to Shaun Hill doesn’t impact that premise.