Sam Bradford running out of time, running out of excuses

The morning after a win is normally filled with good vibes, but today is slightly different. Whilst the Eagles Defense ran rampant once again over Eli Manning to march the Eagles to a 27-7 victory, holding the Giants to no scoring drive in three quarters..the Offense suffered problem after problem. The natural reaction is to point the finger at the man who threw three interceptions, but is he running out of time and excuses in this Eagles Offense?

Bradford finished the game 24/38 for 280 yards a touchdown and a three interceptions. Strangely he had the same completion rate as Eli Manning (24/38) and threw for 91 more yards. The obvious standout stat here are the three interceptions which were dire. It’s debatable if he is to blame for all three but he’s certainly the only suspect for two of them. A wildly misread play early on followed by a throw to Zach Ertz late on who was covered like a pie under a towel…just poor reads. The second interception in which he effectively arm punted the ball over Cooper’s head was purely down to a miscommunication, but that can’t happen..the Eagles can’t afford those sorts of errors to happen. Bradford has now thrown four end-zone interceptions this season, three more than ANY other Quarterback in the NFL.

To make things worse for Bradford, it’s not as if he had limited time in the pocket and was forced into bad throws. The Offensive Line did a great job for the second week in a row and not only gave Bradford plenty of time in the pocket but also opened up the running game for DeMarco Murray’s biggest game as an Eagle.

As the rest of the pieces slowly come together, it’s as though Bradford is running out of things to hide behind. You can’t blame an Offensive line that allowed just one sack on their Quarterback and fired up what was previously a very cold running game and you certainly can’t blame an O-Line who did that against one of the best run Defenses in the NFL.

So that turns the heads to the receivers..who still struggled. The ONLY receivers to catch all of their passes surprisingly…were Miles Austin and Josh Huff. Here are the receiving stats from the Eagles Monday night win.

REC YDS AVG TD LNG/ TGTS
Riley Cooper 3 76 25.3 1 43 6
Miles Austin 3 60 20.0 0 37 3
Jordan Matthews 6 59 9.8 0 19 11
Zach Ertz 4 43 10.8 0 17 7
Josh Huff 3 19 6.3 0 15 3
DeMarco Murray 3 14 4.7 0 7 4
Ryan Mathews 1 6 6.0 0 6 1
Darren Sproles 1 3 3.0 0 3 2

A gleaming issue yet again is the number of completions..and while there were still drops with Jordan Matthews having another bad day at the office, the issue this time was much more reliant on Sam Bradford. Bradford missed countless receivers who were open on throws he should be making in practise, there were terrible reads (which we will analyse in another article once we get the Coaches film) and balls were vastly under/overthrown. There were times like the pass to Ertz where it should be easy, easy yardage and instead results in an incompletion because of his ball placement. Sure he’s able to find Cooper and Austin on deep routes a few times but his overall accuracy has been worrying.

It’s not as though the Eagles have a number one receiver who’s getting open though. Matthews has had drops in every game and is struggling to get open this season but when he makes a catch..it’s a big one. But the point is simple. This was a Giants Secondary who had given up over 1500 yards passing coming into tonight, one of the worst pass Defenses in the NFL. Three interceptions and a misleading 280 yards are not good enough.

There’s a tendency to turn the ball over which has plagued him early on, partner that with another three and out to start the game and what you have is an Eagles Offense that becomes reliant on an inconsistent Quarterback. For the first time this year, the running game was more than effective..shades of 2014 were glowing as Murray showcased what he’s capable of when the team are firing on all cylinders and because of that, they were very much able to bail Bradford out of bad situations. The Defense needs no introduction after the best defensive performance I have personally seen in the last two years minimum.

Bradford came up against a very weak Giants Secondary who were without their top Cornerback and still was only able to convert on 6 out of 16 third downs. He was unable to capitalise on their biggest weakness (tight ends) and found Zach Ertz for just 43 yards on 4 receptions. He was unable to consistently air out deep passes and more importantly lacked the ability to take care of the football. Luckily for Sam, the Eagles Defense were there to pick up the pieces and dominate against the Giants..but  what happens when he faces Carolina with linebackers like Luke Keuchly? What happens when he faces the Cardinals later in the season who humiliated the 49’ers just a few weeks ago?

Then there’s the ACL reasoning. Most fans and analysts have almost held back on Bradford so to speak after returning from his second ACL tear. After the first four weeks people were still saying that he’s shaking off the rust and needs time to re-adjust to the pace of the NFL. But at what point does that excuse become invalid? It’s obviously a huge thing to try and come back from but six games to shake off rust when he’s been able to put in much better performances against much better defenses? The problem is inconsistency. We know he can get the job done, look at pre-season, look at the Jets, look at the Saints. It’s doing it game in and game out that’s the issue and unfortunately the “ACL Argument” is losing its validity as the season wears on.

The crux of the issue is this. Every single piece of the Philadelphia Eagles puzzle is improving. The Offensive Line, the pass rush, the receivers, the running backs, the secondary…all except the Quarterback. As the rest of the team finds their stride and begins to punch in performances we all know they’re capable of, Bradford is left scrapping. With less errors being committed by the rest of the team, all of Bradford’s mistakes no matter how small become amplified. Bradford isn’t traditionally an interception guy and hasn’t suffered from that problem this season..but he’s done so in a game where most other areas shone. The excuses are running out, the time is running out…Sam Bradford has to find a way to light up and stay lit before it’s too late.

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