Is Sam a Sham?
ATLANTIC CITY (973espn.com) — Talk of a quarterback change dominated The Sports Bash on Tuesday at The Golden Nugget, a strange dynamic considering the Eagles were just a day removed from a 20-point win over a heated division rival.
Those who watched Philadelphia's 27-7 Monday night win over the Giants, however, understand it was a dominating defense that carried the Eagles to first place, not the team's embattled starting quarterback.
Sam Bradford connected on 24-of-38 passes for 280 yards and a dismal 61.3 passer rating with three more interceptions against New York, including a woeful underthrow to Zach Ertz that produced his latest end zone pick. And Bradford's lone TD to Riley Cooper was also a poorly thrown ball that should have also been picked off by the Giants.
"We had some miscommunication today on a couple routes where the quarterback and the receiver were not on the same page, but we have to clean that up," Eagles coach Chip Kelly claimed after the contest.
"We've talked about that. (Sam's) getting more familiar, in terms of what we're doing, but we can't continue to do that against really good football teams. We were fortunate that we did it and got away with it today, but in this league, you can't do that and sustain things and sustain winning. So, we've really got to clean that up on the offensive side of the ball."
After watching the film and getting a feel for Bradford's egregious performance, Kelly doubled down on the communication aspect and offered even better protection than the Eagles' offensive line on Monday which kept the Bradford clean in the pocket.
"There's not one thing," Kelly said of his passing woes. "I think, at times, it's the rush will break down, so now (Bradford) has to move his feet. We did have some inconsistency and some wrong routes run the other night, so that kind of puts him in a situation he's expecting the receiver to be here and he's not there anymore.
"So we had a couple communication issues. Some guys moving around a little bit. There was a little bit of shuffle there when (WR Josh) Huff went down for a little bit, Coop (WR Riley Cooper) is down for a little bit and we are jockeying the receivers around a little bit. But, that's not an excuse, that is just those are things we need to continue to work on as a group to get everybody on the same page."
Talk is cheap, though, and it's hard to believe Kelly peered into the mirror Monday morning and believed Bradford has been carrying his own water. So, getting on the same page in just the latest excuse in a disappointing career defined by rationalization.
As the sample size grows larger and larger with Bradford and the Eagles, it's becoming plainly evident that the signal caller is what he is and that Philadelphia could have gotten better production from Nick Foles for $12 million less and still had the second-round pick that they moved to St. Louis in the rare deal for starting QBs.
To those who defend Bradford, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick by the Rams, it's been a consistent barrage of justifications. Injuries, playcalling, shoddy offensive line play, lack of weapons ... you name it, those who once claimed Bradford was the next big thing have turned jumping on the sword for him into a cottage industry.
When you strip it all down, here's all you need to know about Bradford: when the throws are there to me made, too often he can't make them.
One of his picks on Monday came from a completely clean pocket where he air-mailed the football over an open receiver, and the pick on the attempt to the 6-foot-6 Ertz was an egregious 50-50 throw, letting the coverage-challenged Landon Collins come away with a big play in the end zone.
“It is something that I never really had a problem with in my career,” Bradford said of the turnovers. “I have never thrown a lot of interceptions, so this is kind of new to me. But we’re going to get this fixed, and hopefully, we are going to eliminate that from our offense.”
If you ask Gil Brandt, things like throwing on the run and deep-ball accuracy were two of Bradford's best traits coming out of Oklahoma. Now the only thing he has in common with an Aaron Rodgers is the position they both play.
But Chip Kelly is stuck because Chip the GM can't let his coach expose him by making the change to Mark Sanchez.
"Sam is our quarterback, so we have full confidence in Sam," the coach claimed.
And few believe him.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen