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Jaws: Sam Bradford had “Cabin Fever” in the pocket

Sam Bradford Pic

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2010. In 2011, Bradford took a disturbing, mammoth step back.

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski is ranking the league’s top 30 quarterbacks in daily SportsCenter episodes, based on film study. Jaws has Bradford ranked 20th, and explained why.

“In 2011, Bradford -- with very few exceptions -- did not look like the same, confident pocket quarterback that I saw as a rookie,” said Jaworski. “He was tentative in the pocket, a function of both erratic offensive line play and receivers that could not win on the outside.

“But I was troubled by Bradford’s increasing tendency to anticipate the rush. I call that ‘Cabin Fever.’ And Bradford struggled with that.”

Jaworski acknowledges that, like so many, he was high on Bradford coming out of college.

“I remember studying him when he came out of Oklahoma in 2010,” Jaworski recalled. “What I really liked was his ability to sit in the pocket, on his back foot, then drive through his throws and deliver with velocity and accuracy. ...

“There’s no question Bradford is a top arm talent. At his best, he’s a commanding pocket passer with a compact delivery and a strong arm. He can also get outside the pocket, extend plays, and throw accurately on the run. Even deep down the field.”

So the skill set has been there, and should still be. But it’s fair to wonder if early-career hits may be taking their toll on the former No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Bradford has absorbed a whopping 70 sacks in his first 26 games.

Jaworski said he expects new coach Jeff Fisher to “manage” Bradford in 2011 with a “run-first approach.” But Jaws also deemed Bradford “right now, a question mark.”