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In Bradford, Redskins Face a QB Learning On the Job


The best quarterback goes to the worst team. That's the way the NFL Draft usually works, the way it supposedly equalizes talent over time.

That's how Sam Bradford wound up with the St. Louis Rams, who finished 2009 with a 1-15 record and the first overall choice.

The Rams, who are hosts to the Redskins (1-1) on Sunday, are 0-2. In that way they're not appreciably better than they've been. Not that they aren't improving.

And by playing Bradford immediately, they set him and themselves up for success down the road.

"For him, starting the very first game of the season is going to help him out in so many ways," Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

McNabb's rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles went a little differently.

"I was kind of rotating and then about Week 10 I started my first game (against the Redskins). Things are going to open up quicker for him than in my situation. Right now I think things are probably racing for him, he's seeing different things and you kind of quick-jump into certain things you may not have to do, but that's just being a rookie," McNabb said.

In 1999, quarterbacks went off the draft board in the first three spots.

The first and third, Tim Couch and Akili Smith, did not so much enjoy careers as endure them and they were short-lived. The second, McNabb, played 11 years with the Eagles before being traded to the Redskins.

Bradford acknowledges the need to learn and learn quickly. He sees some progress after just two games.

"I will say that it moves faster in the regular season than it does in the preseason," he said. "There were things that did slow down for me. There were some small details that I was able to pick up last week where Week 1 things were happening so fast there was no way I did see them.

"Would I say it slowed down to the point of what it felt like in college? Not yet. But I don't think I can expect that to happen after only two games."

It can be a lengthy process.

The Rams, 6-44 since 2007, continue to struggle. They've had a bunch of injuries among their receivers and tight ends and they seem to have been rebuilding endlessly since they last made the playoffs in 2004.

Bradford is their latest hope.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said Bradford is "a guy who comes around once every 10 years, in my opinion, maybe 15."

The Redskins played a game last season against a rookie quarterback who had been the first overall pick by a team with an astounding lack of success.

Matthew Stafford got his first victory, and the first for his team after a record-tying 19 consecutive defeats, almost one year ago. Stafford passed for 241 yards and a touchdown and the Lions beat the Redskins 19-14.

Forewarned is forearmed.

"I think Sam Bradford is going to be a great quarterback, I really do. I see a guy's that poised, that has a great motion, can get the ball out of his hand, unbelievably accurate. I think the guy's got stardom in the future," Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said.

The Redskins cannot allow Bradford's future to begin right now.

AROUND THE NFL: Randy Moss' 34-yard touchdown catch against the New York Jets (yes, that one-hander over Darrell Revis) was his 150th in the NFL. The New England Patriots receiver is now only the fourth player to hit that number. Jerry Rice is the all-time leader with 208. ... San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards in the Monday night loss to the New Orleans Saints. That's his 21st 100-yarder for the Niners and it erases the club record held by Joe Perry. ... The New Orleans Saints and the Redskins are the only two teams not to have turned the ball over. At the other extreme, the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers lead the NFL with eight apiece. ... Why is the Redskins defense on the field so much? Blame the offense, converting only five of 23 third downs (21.7 percent). Only the Pittsburgh Steelers have had less success. The NFL average is 37.6 percent. ... The Redskins' Devin Thomas ranks third in the NFL in kickoff return average (28.4). ... Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahvid Best has scored five touchdowns in his first two games. He's the first rookie to do that since Billy Sims, also of the Lions, in 1980.

QUOTABLE: "I'm concerned. Yeah, hey, I want to score more points than that, no question about it, and I think we have to." – Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, whose 2-0 team (both wins on the road) has two offensive touchdowns. ... "The bottom line is that we're not coming out on the top end of the score." – Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones on his 0-2 team. With that sort of analysis, how far away can 0-3 be? Dallas visits the 2-0 Houston Texans Sunday. ... "I feel like we've had sparks and turnovers pour water on it." – Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini, on his sputtering, error-prone offense.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at and follow him on

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