Six years before the Rams chose Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick to be the saviour of a struggling franchise, they tried the same thing with Sam Bradford.
And if Bradford had been running an offence created by the likes of Sean McVay, he might still have that job instead of being on the other sideline Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals.
Bradford faces the team that drafted him No. 1 when the Cards (0-1) travel to the Coliseum to face the Rams (1-0), who have been through franchise relocation and a thorough transformation in the three years since they traded Bradford and his troubled knee from St. Louis to Philadelphia.
After a two-year stop in Minnesota, Bradford moved back into the NFC West this season with Arizona, where he finally gets to face the franchise that employed him for the first five years of his career. But when asked if the Rams’ horned helmets stir up any special emotions, Bradford said: “Not really.”
“I think if it would have happened sooner in my career, maybe there would be more. But the staff there is completely different. There’s only a handful of guys on that roster that were there when I was there, so there’s just really not a lot of connection that’s still there for me.”
Indeed, the current Rams have few parallels to those not-so-good old days in Missouri.
When Bradford left, this team was mired deep in a streak of 13 consecutive non-winning seasons. Bradford is seeing the Rams again after their evolution into one of the NFC’s top Super Bowl contenders. Los Angeles has a star-studded lineup and a vaunted coaching staff led by McVay, who was a 24-year-old assistant tight ends coach for the Redskins during Bradford’s rookie season with the Rams.
The Rams come into their home opener fresh off an impressive Monday night win at Oakland, while the Cardinals stumbled to a 24-6 loss to Washington in coach Steve Wilks’ debut. The Rams also drilled their rivals twice last season, a 33-0 shutout in their “home” game in London last October before a comfortable 32-16 win in Glendale, Arizona in December.
While Bradford prepares to dodge Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, Goff is fresh and ready after sitting out the entire preseason and then barely getting touched by the Raiders.