And neither does St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who’s still young but not even close to a rookie anymore. Now in his third season, the former Heisman Trophy winner is something different for the Redskins to prepare for Sunday a week after slowing down Drew Brees.
“He has a a pretty good command of their offense that their running. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick, No. 1 overall quarterback as well,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “So if you know he has the talent and they put some weapons around him, that’s going to make him a better player.”
Bradford is hoping to bounce back from a tumultuous sophomore season in which he appeared to regress. He was sacked 36 times, threw as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns and battled an ankle injury.
And while Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wasn’t willing to pass judgment after just one game, in which Bradford threw for 198 yards and a touchdown, he could be due for the next stage in his development as a pro quarterback.
“He’s got all the tools. He can make all the throws,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said. “I’m very impressed with him.”
“At the end of the day he’s going to have to run the plays the coach calls,” Jackson said. “If we know his tendencies, first, second, third down and go from there.”
What the Redskins essentially know is Bradford, unlike Griffin, isn’t a threat to run the ball. Left tackle Trent Williams, who blocked for Bradford at Oklahoma, never had to do anything complicated like he’s doing right now with Washington.
Bradford sits in the pocket and can pick a defense apart. But he does so without ranging too much side-to-side.
“The key is to hit and harass him. He’s not a very mobile guy, he doesn’t want to do a bunch of running, so a lot of things he can’t control,” Bowen said. “He can’t control the protection that he gets, and that’s what us as defensive linemen, that’s what we like to try and control. We like to try and pressure and hit and harass.”
Bowen said with the Rams grappling with offensive line injuries, the Redskins expect the Rams to want Bradford to get rid of the ball quickly. That’s very much different from Griffin, who, even as a rookie, has a natural ability to evade sacks and extend plays.
Bradford showed as a rookie that he can be an NFL star. He thew for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, even on a struggling team.
Now 24 years old and with 27 starts under his belt, he has the potential to take advantage of holes in a defense, though not by using his legs. That’s where the Redskins could have an edge.
“It’s something that we don’t have to worry about as much. You can stay in your rush lanes and stay on your dots, he’ll be there,” Jackson said. “If you’ve got another dimension, if he can pull the ball down and run, that’s another thing you’ve got to worry about: not only beating the man in front of you but tackling the quarterback once you get there.”