It’s no lie that Sam Bradford is struggling in the opening games of his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. A 20/22 stint against Atlanta was rendered forgotten after two picks against Dallas in an embarrassing loss. The Eagles are now scoreless in a total of five of the eight quarters that the team has played so far and whilst there have been a lot of Offensive Line criticisms to defend Bradford, there’s a deeper issue beginning to surface.
It’s not Bradford’s arm that’s the problem. His Pre-Season dominance proved that as did his second half display against Atlanta. To an extent, even some drives against Dallas looked promising. We know he can throw the ball and when this Offense is at it’s most dangerous, picking up first down after first down. When everything functions properly in Chip’s up-tempo Offense, Bradford excels and can match any Quarterback in the league when it comes to short passing.
But when things get tough..we see a different side..and that’s the side which is causing problems.
Donovan McNabb, Randall Cunningham, even Michael Vick…three names who embody a Quarterback that Philadelphia need. Now it’s not fair to compare Vick with the two Eagles legends on any front but passion. If the Eagles are down and out, the players turn to their Quarterback. Look at the most recent miracle in the meadowlands, look at the 18 point comeback against Arizona from McNabb. They both contain a Quarterback who can rally the players up, keep them pumped and motivated, a Quarterback who can fight. A Quarterback who isn’t afraid to risk it all for that one defining moment.
Nick Foles wasn’t exactly Brock Lesnar but he had enough respect from his teammates to put in the tough performances. The Washington game where he came back after a dirty hit to then lead the team to a victory will always stand out as one of my favourite Nick Foles moments.
You just don’t see that fire in Sam Bradford and in any other team it perhaps wouldn’t be such an issue. But this team needs heart. It needs someone who won’t be knocked off of his perch when the fans start to boo and the pressure begins to come. What do we see when Bradford’s in the pocket? A Quarterback who consistently licks his fingers, doesn’t communicate well and makes short pass after short pass for fear of airing one down field…which links in very nicely to our next point.
The lack of fire could well be why we are yet to see the former Ram complete a 20+ yard pass. But it’s also why the Cowboys were so dominant. The Cowboys were apparently calling out the play the Eagles were running at the time, making it very unsettling for the line and receivers but also showing just how confident they are in their ability to read the Eagles gameplan.
If Bradford is too scared to air one out down a seam route or as Sean Lee also eluded to, look at other options on certain plays, then this Offense will have no momentum. The Cowboys at times had 8/9 guys in the box just from studying patterns and looking at how Bradford plays. It’s another reason why the Line struggled..the safeties can afford to leave receivers wide open down the field because they have confidence that regardless of who’s being open that Bradford will choose the hot route every single time.
So when the team go three and out for their opening drives and Bradford gets all kind of looks from his teammates, what happens? Where’s the passion? Where’s the firing up on the sideline? There is no Andrew Luck roar or Drew Brees huddle. Just a guy walking up and a guy walking down.
Talking of Andrew Luck…if the Jets Defense can play him like a fiddle then what are they going to do to Sam Bradford. Stephen A Smith spoke of Bradford saying he was like a deer in headlights. Against the Jets, that will leave him like putty in their hands..
Bradford may have a solid arm and he might just have the credentials to be able to lift this team to greatness when the rest of the Offense is functioning..but can he keep a team lifted through a tough game? Is he a leader? Is he a guy people look up to in the locker room? You be the judge..