Quarterbacks make all the difference in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams knew this when they made Sam Bradford the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2010, a pick that came with a hefty price tag. Maximizing their considerable investment in Bradford was the Rams' focus this past offseason when they invested $19 million in guarantees for one receiving target (Jared Cook) before trading up to select the first offensive skill player in the 2013 draft (WR Tavon Austin). The Rams had the weapons -- finally -- to help their high-priced young franchise quarterback thrive. And in 2013 it appears to have paid early dividends. At least on the surface.
The Rams' excitement was understandable on Sunday when Bradford posted a triple-digit traditional passer rating, 299 yards and two touchdowns (both to Cook) during a Week 1 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Bradford took no sacks for a third consecutive game dating to last season -- the last three-game no-sacks streak for a Rams QB was in 1973 -- and the victory gave St. Louis a 5-1-1 record against division opponents under coach Jeff Fisher.
So when the Total QBR rankings showed Bradford with a mediocre 50.4 mark against Arizona -- ranked 20th for Week 1 and well behind the 79.3 posted by Arizona's Carson Palmer -- it appeared to only amplify questions about whether Bradford is the quarterback to lead this team long term.
Is Bradford reaching his potential as a No. 1 overall pick or, with the improved surrounding talent, could any average QB produce in St. Louis?