Sam Bradford had a great pre-season there’s no doubt about it. Whilst his game time was limited, the Eagles Quarterback still went 13/15, 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 149. But the numbers aren’t what made his pre-season so special..it was another skill entirely..and it’s a skill that could lead this team to greatness.
I went back and watched the coaches film from the pre-season game against the Green bay Packers to see why Bradford was so efficient. The answer is simple. Every single pass, all ten of them..were first reads. No hesitation, no panic throws..every single throw was his first read. But what does this mean?
It means that Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford are on the same wave length. Chip Kelly has implemented one of the most explosive Offenses in the league and because of that, he often has the Defense eating out of the palm of his hand. In a dream scenario, the Quarterback sees what the coach sees on the field and knows exactly who is going to be open..it’s a tactical mindset that not many share.
Michael Vick used to panic and use his legs to get out of trouble, a skillset that served him well and suited the Offense but was never fully exploited because the reads tended to be off. When Vick took off, there would often be a receiver open down the field such as Jackson. When he went down, Nick Foles came in.
Nick Foles record setting season is the closest example to what we are seeing out of Sam Bradford and even that doesn’t do it justice. For instance, I also went back and watched the Raiders game where Foles set the historic seven touchdowns in a single game. The reads for each touchdown are as follows:
In terms of efficiency in that game, Foles was key. He found the open receiver and was just as composed as Bradford. The ball reached the receiver quickly and the rest was history. The difference between the two is that Bradford looks to know where his man is EVERY play. Foles in 2014, didn’t. He panicked and often blindly threw the ball in the hope someone would latch onto it. There are a few reasons why the two seasons contrasted so much and I always put it down to the changing of receiving weapons..Foles had to adjust to the speed of his new core and that meant he lost time in the pocket. Regardless of the reason or excuses, the same read cycle would execute as he would hold onto the ball for too long, examining every option before throwing an incompletion for biding too much time or being sacked.
Bradford doesn’t have that mindset. If a play is called in a spread Offense, Bradford knows who’s going to be open just by looking at the Defense. He looks so relaxed in every play. Each 3/5 step drop looks so natural and he doesn’t even adjust his body position. He knows where the ball is going and exactly when to let it go.
Sam Bradford with the dime to Darren Sproles for a touchdown. Then the classic business handshake!https://t.co/yBEGbMsRB9
— Inside The Iggles (@InsideIggles) August 30, 2015
This touchdown to Darren Sproles is the perfect example. Bradford stays straight and immediately sees that Barrington is slow off the mark and it was the mismatch that Chip Kelly anticipated. Sproles flew out of the backfield and by the time the linebacker picked up the running back it was all too easy for Bradford to drop a ball over his head and into the hands of Sproles.
Under pressure? No problem for Sam Bradford, touchdown to Trey Burton!https://t.co/LdhSOMjeCc
— ➕GMI (@ADDGMI) August 30, 2015
This is another prime example. Bradford’s under pressure but knows that Burton is going to come streaming across the middle. Clinton-Dix was on him man to man but when you look at the screenshot below, it’s evident that he was no competition. The screenshot is from the moment Bradford connected with Burton. The QB saw that Dix was no threat being so far back and with Celek doing a great job confusing the opponent, it leaves Burton open for a small window, one which Bradford sends a bullet through to perfectly connect with his man. No hesitation, no second reads, no falling to the pressure. He took the hit, released the ball and found his intended man.
If you find a Quarterback that’s on the same wavelength as your head coach then you end up with an extremely intimidating Offense. Bradford has shown his Eagle eye vision many times with the Rams and it’s probably what led to Chip taking a chance on him. Sure, a mobile Quarterback would suit this Offense..but when you have someone with the football IQ of Bradford? This team could be at it’s most productive. Partner that with the receiving core and backfield of the Eagles and this team might just be the most intimidating in the NFL.