Sam Bradford Exceeding all Reasonable Expectations
After all, 100 percent is a tough bar to clear every week but two weeks into the Bradford era we are at four drives and four touchdowns.
Bradford probably owes Josh Heupel a call this morning because it was the now Utah State assistant who talked the Eagles new starting quarterback out of retiring after the former No. 1 overall pick ravaged his ACL for the second time in nine months last year.
Heupel, like Bradford a former QB at Oklahoma, was Bradford's position coach with the Sooners and didn't want to see a player with the natural ability of the Eagles signal caller call it a career without giving it one more chance.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss Sam Bradford's preseason and more )
Since Philadelphia acquired Bradford, we've been inundated with talk about his skill set, most notably his pinpoint accuracy and quick decision-making, along with elite arm talent. And it flashed at practice, particularly in 7-on-7s when as Jeff Fisher would say, the football never (well, OK rarely) hit the ground.
Things got a bit murkier when Bradford finally graduated to team drills. There was some uneasiness, even with a red jersey on because 300-pound men flying at your knees can be dangerous even in a controlled environment.
The dastardly Terrell Suggs did Bradford a favor by launching at his knees in a zone-read look last week and 335-pound nose tackle Brandon Williams was even more giving with a sternum shot that shook all of Philadelphia.
When Bradford took those hits and lived to play another down, the confidence grew and he cleared a significant mental hurdle, one that was obvious in Green Bay on Saturday night.
The signal caller was feeling his oats in Titletown, showing off the accuracy people like Heupel and Fisher and Chip Kelly and Gill Brandt and Mike Mayock told us about.
It was almost unfair.
Bradford was nearly perfect, flashing the vaunted accuracy by completing every single one of his 10 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns for an absurd 156.7 passer rating (158.3 is a perfecto).
He used Jordan Matthews to pick apart Packers’ overmatched nickel back Micah Hyde, and Darren Sproles to abuse Green Bay’s lead-footed linebackers in coverage. Raheem Mostert set the tone by returning the opening kickoff 67 yards and moments later Bradford found Sproles torturing Sam Barrington on a wheel route for an easy TD.
Things hardly slowed from there as the Birds’ new starting quarterback also threw scoring strikes to Trey Burton and Brent Celek. The defense also struck as Walter Thurmond took advantage of slipping tight end Richard Rodgers to intercept a Brett Hundley pass and return it for a TD.
By the end of the first 15 minutes, Philadelphia had a 25-0 advantage and Bradford was safely back in storage.
"I thought after we had three touchdown drives," Kelly said, "we felt comfortable that we got some good work in for him."
Good work is an understatement. Bradford plus tempo equaled embarrassment for Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who was helpless.
The only thing left to do now is carry the dress rehearsal over.
"It was nice to get out there last week and play the one series," Bradford said after the game. "Today to be out there for three series and have three touchdowns, but to be able to come to the sidelines, communicate with the offensive line, talk to Chip just about where we're going and what we're thinking, I think that was big, too."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen.