|Even though Sam Bradford has been injury-prone, the Rams plan on passing on RG3. (US Presswire)|
The Colts had a Peyton Manning problem. The Rams still have a Sam Bradford problem. Both teams, who own the top two picks of the 2012 NFL Draft, had a solution staring them in the face. Both have ignored the solution.
Both have ignored Robert Griffin III.
Why? Dunno. It makes no sense to me, but before we go one word further, let me make something clear: I don't find the Robert Griffin III story "mysterious" in the same way I found the Jeremy Lin story "mysterious." Remember that one? Here's what I wrote last month, wondering why -- and I think we all know why -- Jeremy Lin was overlooked coming out of high school and then overlooked again coming out of college. In that story, I was saying something without saying it.
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In this story, I'm not saying a damn thing -- because I honestly don't know why the Colts and Rams have been so hell-bent on ignoring one possible answer to the question plaguing their franchise.
In Indianapolis, the question was this: How do the Colts move onto presumed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, the NFL-ready quarterback from Stanford, if they can't move away from Peyton Manning without alienating the fan base?
In St. Louis, the question was -- and still is -- this: How do the Rams entrust the future of their franchise to injury-prone Sam Bradford, who hasn't been all that good when healthy?
Griffin would have provided a creative, maybe even logical, answer to each franchise's question.
Let's look at the Colts, who labored for months with the prickliest quarterback controversy since Joe Montana shared a locker room with Steve Young. Over the past 14 years, Manning made his franchise viable. Without him, it's likely Indianapolis wouldn't have a new stadium or been granted Super Bowl XLVI. Without him, it's possible Indianapolis wouldn't even have the Colts. Take away a franchise quarterback from one of the smallest TV markets in the NFL, and all bets are off.
That's empty speculation, but the point is: Even as the Luck countdown reached critical mass this week, Indianapolis was indebted to Manning -- and Colts owner Jim Irsay knew it. But Manning missed the 2011 season because of a neck injury, and he was due a $28 million bonus on Friday, and there to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick sits Andrew Luck, said to be the greatest quarterback prospect since
sliced bread Manning himself in 1998.
Luck is said to be so good, so refined, that he'll be ready to play right away. Manning, though, could be getting close to ready for the 2012 season himself. Fusion surgery reportedly worked, and someone put pressure on the Colts by leaking a tape of him throwing the ball -- and throwing it pretty well -- last week at Duke. The Colts are expected to react to that pressure with defiance, by releasing Manning on Wednesday, more than 48 hours ahead of the $28 million deadline.
Locked into two mutually exclusive options at quarterback in Manning and Luck, the Colts were screwed ...
Unless they had gone to Plan III: Robert Griffin III. Think about it: The Colts could have drafted RG3 with the No. 1 pick, kept Manning for the next season or two, and then unleashed Griffin whenever Manning had to retire. Given the spread offense he played at Baylor, it wouldn't have hurt Griffin to spend a year or two learning NFL defenses, how to read and attack them, from the best there ever was.
Simple. Yet the Colts never seemed to consider it. Why? Good question.
The question in St. Louis is much different, much simpler than the delicate public-relations calculus that faced the Colts: Will Sam Bradford ever be good enough, or healthy enough, to turn the Rams franchise around?
Maybe Robert Griffin III would be. And the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, the most dynamic college quarterback in years, will be available with the No. 2 overall draft pick.
Griffin definitely doesn't have the health issues -- the bad friggin' luck -- that have plagued Bradford since college, when he missed most of his final season at Oklahoma because of a sprained throwing shoulder, an injury he suffered early in the season and then aggravated midway through the year, ending his college career.
At St. Louis, Bradford suffered nerve damage to a finger on his throwing hand when he banged it off a defender's helmet in the 2011 opener, then sustained a high ankle sprain that lingered all season -- causing him to miss games, then another game, then finally the final three of the season.
When healthy? When healthy, Sam Bradford hasn't been all that good.
Well, he hasn't.
He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010, but that was a weak draft class for offensive skill players -- see for yourself -- which Bradford proved by being named the league's best rookie on offense while putting up pedestrian numbers. His rookie passer rating of 76.5 ranked 25th in the league, while his yards per completion (9.9) and yards per attempt (6.0) were 30th.
And that was Bradford's good year.
Last season Bradford's passer rating of 70.5 was 30th. He completed only 53.5 percent of his passes, good for 32nd in a league with 32 franchises. For his career Bradford has thrown 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, with a passer rating of 74.2 and a completion rate of 57.6 percent.
And injury prone.
And there sits RG3, who has one skill Bradford lacks -- incredible athleticism -- that would come in handy while playing behind a bad offensive line. The Rams could trade Bradford for a running back, or for an offensive lineman, or maybe even for one of each.
That's the theory. Well, it's one theory. But it's a theory that seems to be going unexplored in St. Louis. Why is that? Why are the Rams determined not to draft -- not to even consider drafting -- Robert Griffin III?
Couldn't tell you. It's a mystery.