On March 13, 2018 Sam Bradford signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Most critics would call this a risky move by the Cardinals while others view this as a high risk, high reward move by general manager Steve Keim and new head coach Steve Wilks. Here are five goals that would help Bradford and the Cardinals have a successful 2018 season.
Goal One: Stay Healthy
Ever since his collegiate days at the University of Oklahoma, Bradford has dealt with several injuries stemming from shoulder AC joints in 2009 at Oklahoma and 2015 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He tore his ACL in 2013 and 2014 with the St. Louis Rams and in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. He suffered a bone bruise in his left knee which led to him having arthroscopic surgery, ending his season.
In his eight years in the NFL, Bradford has only played a full season twice (2010 and 2012). During those two full seasons, he passed for 3,512 yards with 18 touchdown and 15 interceptions in 2010. In 2012, he passed for 3,702 yards with 21 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. With the Vikings, he had his best statistical season since entering the league passing for 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 99.3, playing in 15 games in 2016. When healthy, the former Sooner has proved he can be a very effective quarterback and has the numbers to back that up. The Cardinals have made improvements to the offensive line during free agency to help keep Bradford stay upright, having him healthy will be a huge key for Cardinals to contend in the 2018.
Goal Two: Be a Leader
Being in his ninth year in the NFL, Bradford is a veteran and will need to bring his leadership to the Cardinals. He will join guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson in the locker room as mentors for the younger players. When on the field, he will need to command the huddle, be a teammate other players can trust, and lead by example. Leadership is a key goal for Bradford in 2018 especially being with a new team.
Goal Three: Utilize the Talent
One of the biggest reasons Bradford chose the Cardinals is the talent that the roster has heading into the 2018 season. The offensive line was improved in free agency adding Andre Smith at right tackle and Justin Pugh at right guard. A.Q. Shipley is still the man in the middle and the left side returns tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Mike Iupati. He will get to share the same back field with one of the best young running backs in David Johnson. Johnson is returning from a hand injury that caused him to miss 15 games in 2017. The Pro Bowl back, in 2016, racked up over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns.
Bradford hasn’t ever worked with a wide receiver like Fitzgerald who is one of the greatest wide receivers off all-time. Fitzgerald is third in NFL history with 15,545 yards and eighth in career touchdown receptions with 110. J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams are the other two receivers, but the Cardinals are looking to add another receiver in free agency or the draft. Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham played with Bradford at Oklahoma so he has a connection with him.
Goal Four: Learn from Mike McCoy
The Cardinals hired McCoy as the new offensive coordinator under Wilks. McCoy has worked with quarterbacks such as Jake Delhomme in Carolina and Kyle Orton in Denver in 2009. Orton had a career year that season passing for 3,802 yards with 21 touchdowns. He also coached veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in San Diego when he was the head coach from 2013 to 2016. Each of those season Rivers passed for over 4,000 yards and for 29 or more touchdowns. McCoy could be a huge help for Bradford so having both of them on the same page will be beneficial for the Cardinals.
Goal Five: Prove the doubters wrong
One of the biggest things Bradford will face in 2018 is proving the doubters wrong. He has battled injuries his whole career, which can put a lot of pressure on a player. When he is healthy, he has put up strong numbers with accuracy and efficiency. This is a very important offseason for him especially being with a new team. Getting to know teammates, working with them in OTAs, mini camps, training camp, and into the 2018 regular season will be key to his resurgence. Proving the doubters wrong should be the driving force for him this upcoming season.
If Bradford can live up to all of these goals, he could be in for a nice season with the Cardinals. Stability at quarterback is something the Cardinals could use as they look to return to the playoffs in 2018.