The film room: Why Sam Bradford is vastly superior to Nick Foles

Sam-Bradford

Yesterday saw ESPN and Adam Schefter report that the Eagles are not only neglecting the idea of placing a franchise tag on Sam Bradford, but could well be pursuing current Rams and former Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles. Sources were quick to dispel the rumors but less than 24 hours later and it seems Schefter is doubling down on his previous statement, and he isn’t alone.

So IF these reports carry substance and aren’t part of a smokescreen (as I alluded to on Twitter earlier today)

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this could well be the most confusing move in the last 10 years of the Franchise…but if you take out the financial implications and logic, the move still makes little sense. I went back to review game film from 2014 and 2015 to compare what we saw from Bradford this season and Foles the year before.

The first game of the 2014 season saw a very nervy scenario for the Eagles as they were able to scurry to a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the signs were there from the very first drive.

If there are two aspects of the game where Bradford and Foles could not be any further apart, it’s composure and spacial awareness. When it comes to pocket presence, Bradford (bar the opening three weeks) was very comfortable at finding his footing and instinctively knowing the read he wanted before the play, an aspect of his game that became both a blessing and a slight curse when the drops arrived. Foles very rarely set his feet in the ground and often rolled out into danger or panicked to get the ball away.

Here for instance, Foles was under pressure and decided to throw the ball over the middle. However, instead of looking over the top where there was acres of space or screening to his right, Foles threw into what essentially became triple coverage very quickly.Screen_Shot_2016-02-08_at_21_46_28.png

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The same thing happened a play later. You can see why Foles would search out Ertz here, but instead of throwing a pass he can run onto, he threw into a very crowded area of the field. Whereas on the other side of the field you have three receivers who could have at least picked up minor yardage. More worryingly is that he threw into direct danger..

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Later in the game his spacial awareness cost the team a possession..

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This was just the first game however. As the season went on however the trend continued. It’s also interesting to note that in both 2013 and 2014, Foles had a much more efficient and productive Offensive Line standing in front of him than Bradford had to endure in 2015. Sure there were games like the showdown in Washington where Foles was swallowed up constantly, but overall the Quarterback had much more freedom to create plays.

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This kind of play didn’t follow Foles wherever he went though. There were times when the Eagles number nine would unnecessarily scramble out of the pocket, exposing himself to pressure that couldn’t be prevented and leading to missed opportunities.

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We very rarely saw Sam Bradford roll in this fashion during 2015, despite enduring much more pressure and having the same mobility level as Foles. Bradford is a Quarterback who throws on his stronger foot. He finds his setting, if he gets knocked, he readjusts and throws to the same read or will very quickly find an alternative..a quality Foles did not show.

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But a year later and a different team, people claim Foles experienced a decline that according to reporters the Eagles are putting down to “Coaching, situation and system”. But was there really ever a decline to begin with?

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Nick Foles struggled massively in 2015 for the Rams..but if anything it’s not that he suddenly dropped in form. It could be argued that the playbook didn’t allow so much room for error. With Chip’s Offense, the run game would take the primary role and Foles could make incompletions and catch a tired Defense out with a big throw later in the game as they get used to short dumps over the middle. St. Louis didn’t offer that kind of freedom, where you always have a receiver on a screen or a running back to throw to. They didn’t have a Brent Celek to aid in blocking or a people constantly cutting over the middle as a fall back option..and that forced Foles into physically having to make accurate reads…and that’s where the panic sets in.

He was great in Philadelphia back in 2013, he won the locker room in a heartbeat and the team supported him after the heart he showed against the Redskins a year later. But as the flaws began to outweigh his ceiling, injury struck at would could be argued the right time. Foles ended his 2014 campaign with 13 touchdowns and 10 picks..but he threw at least one interception in each of his last three games before the injury, as well as obtaining a completion rate less than 50% in two of them…and in his last four, he didn’t throw a single touchdown.

Yes he led his team to a playoff game and yes he did show great resilience throughout 2014, but as Chip’s offense began to stagnate, his flaws began to show..and the flaws that tie Foles down are what Sam Bradford is completely free of.

We’re not calling Sam Bradford perfect, we’re not saying he’s an elite Quarterback who deserves the biggest contract in the league..but for what the Eagles need at the position which is consistency, Bradford has in abundance.

A true pocket passer who can get out of danger if he needs too but can also make the right read with pressure oncoming. When it comes to accuracy he ranked among the top four in the NFL despite 43 drops and when it comes to leadership you have players left right and center singing his praises.

If the Eagles front office are seriously considering making a push for a player whom they traded a 2nd round pick to get rid of and letting a player who is dream for a coach of Pederson’s stature  considering the magic he’s worked with Alex Smith, they should seriously consider reading this article.

Photo credit: Ric Tapia-NFL

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