Posted May 31, 2013

Friday Toss-Up: Sam Bradford vs. Andrew Luck

Friday Toss-Up, Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford was rookie of the year in 2010. Andrew Luck narrowly missed that award last year. (Sam Riche/MCT/LANDOV)

Sam Bradford was rookie of the year in 2010. Andrew Luck narrowly missed that award last year. (Sam Riche/MCT/LANDOV)

Each Friday this offseason, Audibles will pit two players head-to-head in an attempt to figure out which one will have a better 2013 season. We’ll then take it to Twitter, to get your opinions on the debate. Find our previous Toss-Ups here.

Our first Audibles Toss-Up of the offseason, between Randall Cobb and Percy Harvin delivered a split decision: I rolled with Harvin; the fans voted for Cobb.

Will history repeat itself in Toss-Up No. 2? This week’s battle pits St. Louis QB Sam Bradford against his Indianapolis counterpart, Andrew Luck.

BURKE: Biggest question facing every team

The Contenders

Sam Bradford: Everything seems to be lining up for the former No. 1 pick (2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year) to deliver his best season yet in 2013. Bradford threw for a career-high 3,702 yards last year, plus delivered a 2-1-1 combined record against the Seahawks and 49ers. And the Rams have attempted to build on those marks by adding several exciting weapons to the offense (TE Jared Cook, WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) and promising to open things up more this coming season. St. Louis did bid farewell to RB Steven Jackson, but in Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and fifth-round pick Zac Stacy have enough options to keep the heat off its QB.

Bradford also — finally — has the benefit of some stability in the Rams’ coaching staff. He dealt with an offensive coordinator change between ’10 and ’11, then a full staff overhaul from the Steve Spagnuolo to Jeff Fisher regime between ’11 and ’12. Both Fisher and OC Brian Schottenheimer remain in place for a second season, which should help Bradford’s development.

While his overall record as an NFL starter is not pretty (15-26-1), he’s a much more respectable 14-17-1 if we toss out an injury-plagued 2011 that saw the Rams fall apart completely. The Rams also added left tackle Jake Long this offseason, in an effort to shore up a shaky front.

Andrew Luck: Indianapolis’ No. 1 overall pick finished second to Robert Griffin III on last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year ballot, but he certainly had a strong case. Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 mark and a playoff berth, while finishing seventh in the league in yards passing (4,374) — ahead of stars like Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.

One of the biggest issues for Luck: turnovers. He threw 18 picks and lost five fumbles over 16 starts. Neither that relatively high number of miscues nor a so-so completion percentage (54.1) take the shine off what Luck accomplished in his first attempt to fill Peyton Manning’s Colts shoes.

Luck welcomes back in 2013 his leading receiver, Reggie Wayne, who made 106 catches last season. T.Y. Hilton may be ready for a breakthrough campaign, too, after a 50-reception rookie year; and Luck now has Darrius Heyward-Bey as another option. He also can count on second-year tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, the latter of which Indianapolis’ coaching staff has talked up this offseason.

Much of Luck’s success may hinge on a rebuilt offensive line that now features Donald Thomas, Gosder Cherulis and possibly 2013 draft picks Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes.

BURKE: Fleener among second-year players poised for breakout

The Pick

Luck. From a fantasy-football perspective, that may be the wrong answer; with his shiny new targets, Bradford should soar past his 2012 yardage and touchdown totals.

In his one season in the league, though, Luck proved more consistent than Bradford. He’s also just four wins shy of Bradford’s career total, despite playing 26 fewer games. St. Louis’ bevy of options at receiver and running back may be exciting on paper, but it’s also a very young, inexperienced group. Bradford does not have a Reggie Wayne at his disposal.

If nothing else, Luck can lean on Wayne when things are not going well. Who will be that guy for Bradford? His two leading receivers from last season, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, now wear other uniforms.

Both teams’ run games are up in the air, as well — the Rams and Colts finished in the bottom half of the league in yards rushing last season. So, the pressure may fall back on Bradford and Luck to carry a lot of the offensive load. Luck had little trouble doing that last year, despite throwing 67 more passes than Bradford.

Bradford may be on the verge of a marked step forward in his fourth season. He’s playing catch up on Luck, though, especially when it comes to delivering wins.

The Fans Speak

20 comments
rogerdale38
rogerdale38

I wanna believe Bradford will have a good year. If not, they need to start thinking about other options for this position.

JimCody
JimCody

It's amazing how little credit Luck has gotten for carrying the worst team in the NFL to the playoffs. Of course his stats aren't going to be as good, because he had to do everything himself. It's hard not to push when you're the only decent option on the team.

dbum
dbum

A more interesting question I'd like ask: what young dual gunner-runner threat is the best of the bunch? The only true contenders: Russel Wilson, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, or Cam Newton? 

My team are the Skins but even I have to say I'd pick Colin.  RGIII has all the physical skills and the mental part of the game down as well as you can. The only thing that puts him a notch lower than Kaepernick on my list is I believe Colins build is a bit stouter to RGIII skinny build and over his career I think he will hold up better and last longer. Very close call but here it is:


1. Colin Kaepernick- Great arm, very good runner, first year starter to the Superbowl (need I say more?)

2. RGIII- Great athlete, great drive & motivation, took the Skins to the playoff (now thats AmAzing right their)

3. Russel Wilson- may be the greatest leader of the bunch, love the football IQ he brings to the table, very good at everything he does

4. Cam- maybe the most physically gifted athlete of the group, needs to become more of a leader and show he can master the reads and mental part of the game before he really belongs


What do you think? Looking forward to the debate!

SixfootSlim314
SixfootSlim314

Sam will have a breakout season this year from all the new additions on offense.. Cook and Long will make a big difference this year.. Watch what I tell u big numbers for Sam Bradford.. sleeper Brian Quick in his sophomore year.. Sam is the leader of this offense now not SJ39.. my honest opinion I believe they should've traded SJ before the deadline.. even tho SJ gone put up big numbers in ATL

SixfootSlim314
SixfootSlim314

Sam will have a breakout season this year from all the new additions on offense.. Cook and Long will make a big difference this year.. Watch what I tell u big numbers for Sam Bradford.. sleeper Brian Quick

kdbarbershop
kdbarbershop

Bradford is as good now as he's ever going to get. I'm not sure of the wisdom in drafting a QB from Oklahoma anyway, not one has played in a Super Bowl and I'm not sure how many, aside from Bradford have ever started in the NFL. Sorry OU fans, but Aikman left there for UCLA. and hey speaking of the PAC-12..Aikman, Plunkett,  Rodgers, Mark Rypen have a combined 7 Super Bowl wins plus Chris Chandler, Craig Morten, Joe Kapp all started. Plus I'm probably missing one or two. and here comes Andrew Luck

JeffShields
JeffShields

I would like to see a comparison between Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.

BVoss
BVoss

The Rams were always SJ39's team.  Now it can be Sam's team. With all the new additions on offense, I think he's gonna rock it! They've really put together an exciting team on both sides of ball. Should be fun!

MichaelMay
MichaelMay

Luck WILL be my pick for MVP next year because of the improvements around him. The offensive line was horrible last year and signing to good lineman to protect Luck will definitely help Luck cut down on turnovers along with experience next season. I think with Heyward Bey coming in and improvement from Fleener, Allen, and Hilton along with Wayne will make Luck a top 3 QB in the league next year. I bet the Colts go 13-3 next season because their defense improved as much as their offense this offseason.

sporra01
sporra01

You wanna know who will have the better season???? I'll tell you who will have the better season.....Russel Wilson. Sho nuff.

brad5028
brad5028

@LeilaniHernandez   LH, I have yet to see you post anything constructive.  Get real, get happy, have fun.  

John18
John18

Healthy RG is second to none.

What has Bradford done to be considered anywhere near elite?

dbum
dbum

@NeelMatches @dbum hes athletic but does not compare to these 4. he might end up being the best of the bunch but its pretty clear that these 4 are breaking the mold for the classic quarterback while luck is the quintesential classic quarterback with some very good athletic talent. every one of the guys i mentioned ran for significantly more yards, kaep did as well despite only starting about half the season. you can put some of that on the system they play in but especially wilson and cam do most of their running on scrambles, not on designed runs. are you saying you think hes as talented as they are as a runner? cause i very much disagree with that. everybit if not better as talented a quarterback but not as a runner.

NeelMatches
NeelMatches

@JamesMartens @MichaelMay Well, considering we cannot watch the games, this is what we do. If you don't want to stick your neck out and pick, I will - Luck will win MVP. See, that's fun.