The St. Louis Rams haven't turned into the Indianapolis Colts, and Sam Bradford hasn't turned into Peyton Manning. His top receivers are still Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson and he's still hiding behind Wayne Hunter on the o-line. But by almost any statistical measure, he's having his best season yet—and he's gone from a question mark to, if nothing else, a competent starting quarterback with more room to grow.
You like the conventional stats that had us all excited about Bradford back in 2010? Sure—he's on pace for 3639 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a QB rating of 81.5. In everything except touchdowns (we'll have to wait for Amendola to get back, I guess) those are career highs. If you wade a little deeper, into yards per attempt, he's at a career-high 7.3 after two seasons stuck near the back of the pack at six even.
And if you dig the advanced metrics, Bradford's finally bounced off the bottom of the Football Outsiders measurements. His DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) is -4.7%, below average but, at 17th in the league, his best mark yet. In 2011 he was a disastrous -24.2, behind Vince Young and just ahead of Matt Cassel; in 2010 he was at -15.6.
Bradford still has a ways to go before he lives up to the Rams' expectations—but in his defense, so do the Rams. He's shown he can be part of the solution on an improving Rams team; now we can be excited, again, about what he'll be able to do when he has the right pieces around him.