Before going down against Miami, Sam Bradford had a passer rating of 118. The Eagles then lost him for two and a half games as Mark Sanchez took the helm and led the Eagles to their most embarrassing losses of the season, amassing an 80.7 Quarterback rating in the process. Bradford bounced back in the most unlikely of circumstances..but how much did that impact the Eagles?
The natural reaction is to say well the Eagles had a punt return touchdown, a blocked punt touchdown and a pick six so surely not that much..but you’d be wrong.
In his first seven games of the season, Bradford threw ten interceptions. He hasn’t thrown a pick in his last three games. Sam Bradford may not have won the game for the Eagles, but he didn’t lose it for them. There were some close shaves in all honesty, he wasn’t perfect..but he didn’t feed the ball back to the Patriots drive after drive.
Not only that, but he controlled the flow of the game much more efficiently. The Eagles had just two drives that lasted under a minute with six drives lasting over two minutes. But why was there a sudden change in balance?
Coming into the game, Bradford had been poor on third down, in fact he ranked 27th in the league in third down conversions. But he came into the game, looked after the ball and made some huge plays on third down. Thus giving the Eagles momentum, keeping Brady off the field and giving the Offense a much needed spark in confidence. Bradford completed four huge third down plays including that crucial pass to Riley Cooper to keep the game alive late on.
Whilst his numbers weren’t the most impressive ( 14/24, 2TD, 0INT, 120 yards) they were consistent and for the first time in his career, Bradford has a passer rating of 99 or above in three consecutive games. Could you also believe that in the last seven games Bradford has started, the Eagles are 5-2? Hm..
The growth this season has been undeniable. He started off very wobbly, inconsistent and with very little in the way of leadership. But now we’re seeing him get fired up, we’re seeing players respond to him and as the rest of the problems begin to iron out, we are finally seeing the passing Offense that Chip envisioned. The sack numbers are dropping, the bizarre decisions are few and far between and the receivers are actually catching the easy passes.
Bradford may not have scored 7 touchdowns en route to a career game and single handedly demolished the Patriots..but what he did do was take care of the ball and give the Defense an opportunity to succeed by achieving scoring drives or good field position. We have seen before that when this Defense is on the field for large amounts of time, they begin to wilt and tire and that’s when those dreaded X-Plays sneak back into the mix. That was never an issue under Bradford who was able to keep the Eagles Defense ready and rested whilst putting up a vital 14 points against the Patriots.