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Sam Bradford And Hall Of Fame Slumps: When Warren Moon Was Wasted (And New Systems)

Warren Moon's best known now for his awesome longevity, which saw him take his first NFL snap at 28 years old and still finish with nearly 50,000 yards through the air, but he didn't have his most prolific seasons until he was 34-thanks in part to the time it took for the Houston Oilers to design the right system around his talents. Surely Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams can empathize with that particular problem.

The Oilers knew they had an arm like they'd never seen before from the beginning-he got 450 pass attempts in 1984-but it wasn't until 1986 when Moon was given the signal to air it out, and success, at first, was limited; he threw 26 interceptions that year. Year by year his yards per attempt crept up, and finally his accuracy followed; by 1991 the Oilers were throwing like few teams ever had, all the way up to 41 times per game, and Moon responded with two consecutive seasons over 4600 yards.

Designing a system around Sam Bradford shouldn't be nearly as difficult; he's not an African American refugee of the CFL, he's a prototypical NFL quarterback with a golden arm, No. 1 pick credentials, and a Heisman Trophy before he was old enough to drink.

Somehow, the Rams have had problems anyway. Pat Shurmur's conservative offense masked Bradford's limitations and the Rams offense's considerable weaknesses well enough, but it wasn't going to push a team into real playoff contention; meanwhile, Josh McDaniels's exotic offense has been an unmitigated disaster after a hasty post-lockout installation. Whatever it takes, the Rams need to find an offense that plays to the strengths they drafted-and for what it's worth, they should probably do it before Bradford turns 34.

For a complete look at SB Nation St. Louis's series on Sam Bradford and Hall of Fame quarterbacks who had similarly disastrous starts, click through to this Storystream and subscribe.