On Friday evening, Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was scheduled to make an appearance at Carl’s Cards, a sports memorabilia store in Havertown, PA. Scheduled to arrive at 6PM, fans queued outside with the hopes of meeting one of the most important players during the Eagles’ historic Super Bowl run. But they waited…and waited…and waited.
The table is all set for tonight’s Nigel Bradham signing 🏈🦅 he’ll be in store from 6-7:30pm. Tickets available at the door. pic.twitter.com/nSFfpXac1i
— Carl's Cards (@carlscards) October 5, 2018
Bradham never arrived and fans were left understandably upset. Bizarrely, there was no word from the linebacker at all, however there was a statement from his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
Nigel Bradham could not make it to a signing tonight because Drew Rosenhaus said the #Eagles are still in an “emergency defensive meeting” which began at 5.
— Matt Rappa (@mattrappasports) October 5, 2018
Rosenhaus is one of the most notorious agents who represents NFL athletes and facilitated the 5-year $40M contract extension signed during the offseason. It would seem completely out of character for one of his clients to avoid something like this without an extremely good reason.
According to Matt Rappa of Sports Talk Philly, the reason for Bradham’s absence was due to an emergency defensive meeting called by the Eagles. This tweet was sent at 7:12 EST and the meeting, as stated, was reported to have taken place at 5PM. That’s a very long, in-depth and important meeting and it’s not without justification.
“Incredibly disappointing.” Were the words the team’s defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, chose to use when describing the amount of fourth downs given up to the Titans last week. “Fourth-and-ones are tough. Fourth-and-inches like that. You have to defend every blade of glass on the field. And that’s difficult position. You can’t expect to win every one of those.
But damned if we shouldn’t expect to win every fourth-and-15. And that was probably the biggest disappointment. You’re going to have some that you give up. I mean, it’s just life in the big city.
But fourth-and-15, that’s the one that’s the most disappointing. And that cost us the game. We probably had about six plays that if we made any of those plays we win the game.
And obviously we didn’t make the plays to win the game.”
The Eagles run defense has been impeccable this season, allowing an average of under 65 yards on the ground per game and leading the league in that category. In terms of pass defense however, well, there’s certainly cause for concern.
Whether it’s the amount of PI calls, deep plays conceded or the fact that offenses have finally worked out that attacking the Birds’ cornerbacks underneath when they play in off-coverage is just an essential cheat code, the Eagles back-end has been worrying since week one and it doesn’t look as if things will change any time soon. The injury to Rodney McLeod certainly didn’t help things.
So, will we ever learn what came of this meeting? Probably not. But the one thing Schwartz has been criticized for in recent weeks is a reluctancy to move things around. The defense has shown the same flaws throughout the first quarter of the season and have been punished as such. If a team physically cannot run the ball but as a result find great success passing it, then it doesn’t really do either side justice.
After the news of Wisniewski’s benching broke on Friday, perhaps this is the coaching staff putting their foot down in an attempt to stomp out any remaining complacency. Or maybe, there are some more changes on the horizon.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports