Sam Bradford picked apart the New Orleans Saints in week one passing for an outstanding 346 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. While it was a great performance, perhaps the greatest in his career, are we all falling for fool’s gold or should we expect Pro Bowl caliber play the rest of the season?
The first thing to look at is Sam himself. Does his career to this point indicate the Saints game is likely to happen again? The answer to that question is no. Bradford has 15 games that he passed for 300 or more yards. That puts Sam over 300 yards on average three or four times a season, assuming he plays all 16 games. Bradford has only had three games where he passed for 300+ yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. That puts same at putting up this sort of performance about once every other season.
This isn’t to say that he can’t do it again, the Week 1 versus the Saints. Don’t forget last December when he put up 382 yards and three touchdowns versus the Green Bay Packers. The common thread in all of Sam’s best performances is time to throw the ball. Bradford has the arm talent and football IQ to perform at an elite level if he’s not forced to scramble or move around too much in the pocket.
The one thing that can turn fool’s gold into the real deal is the Vikings offensive line. As stated above, Bradford with a clean pocket is about as good as anyone in the league. As soon as the pocket breaks down or he is forced to scramble Bradford goes for deadly to mostly ineffective.
In week one the offensive line came together for the first time never once having all five of them on the field together before. The idea of this tossed together offensive line left many in doubt about the Vikings chances this season and in week one against the Saints. I was one of the ones that questioned cutting Alex Boone.
With all that said, the Vikings offensive line was outstanding in pass blocking. The rookie center Pat Elflein looked like a veteran Pro Bowler and the rest of the line was able to dominate the Saints defensive line. I’m not going to get too excited over one game. Unlike Bradford, this offensive line doesn’t have a track record to refer to yet. Week two versus the Steelers will be a real test and will let us know where the offensive line stands.
The Saints may be the most responsible for this fool’s gold. Their defense was one of the worst in the league last year and appear to be well on their way to being in the same spot this season. The Saints starting corners have three years combined experience. Kenny Vaccaro has been a pretty big disappointment and outside of Cameron Jordan the rest of the defense is underwhelming.
Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?
Well, the answer to that my friends is neither. Sam Bradford is capable of doing this or 70% of the week one performance every week if given the time to throw. On the other hand almost every defense they see the rest of the season will be better than the Saints. There are going to be injuries in the receiving and offensive line corps. What we should expect from Sam Bradford is not to turn the ball over and move the ball enough to take advantage of the field position provided by the defense. The good news is that Dalvin Cook seems to be a perfect fit. He can catch, he’s a natural runner and most importantly knows his role in pass protection. With the addition of Cook and if the offensive line continues to play at a high level, week one is far from fool’s gold.