Johnson: Confidence the Key With Bradford
Asked about Sam Bradford’s performance Friday, Lane Johnson said his quarterback was “like a machine,” dispensing one accurate ball after the next into the hands of his receivers downfield. It was maybe his best day of practice in his short time in an Eagles uniform, and his teammates (along with the fans and media in attendance) took notice.
“He was throwing lots of touchdowns today. He’s very accurate,” said Johnson. “I haven’t seen accuracy like that from a quarterback in a long time.”
There has been some rust to knock off but Bradford is showing off his skill set more and more as we go along. The size (6-4, 224), the big arm and the accuracy are all pretty plain to see. He appears to have a quick mind and a quick trigger. Watch him for a while, and you understand why coaches and scouts are drawn to him.
With all of these things going for him, why haven’t the results been better on this level? There have been injuries, of course, but even when Bradford was healthy, he didn’t exactly light it up in St. Louis. The former No. 1 overall pick has a career quarterback rating of 79.3 and a 58.6 completion percentage to go with a record of 18-30-1 as the starter.
Pat Shurmur, who served as Bradford’s offensive coordinator for a year in St. Louis, suggested those numbers don’t reflect on the QB alone.
“It takes two to tango when we’re talking about completion percentages,” he said. “We do know he’s a very accurate passer, and in the progressions that we’re running he’s displayed an ability to throw the ball accurately and on time for us.”
It’s been debated just how much of Bradford’s issues in St. Louis were tied to personnel. Johnson believes it was a major factor. Specifically, he thinks the Rams’ leaky offensive line during Bradford’s time there hurt him not only statistically, but mentally.
“He just has to get his confidence back,” said Johnson. “It’s hard. All these high draft picks, they go to these bad teams with bad O-linemen and they get their confidence ruined. That’s basically what it is. You don’t have no protection, you don’t have no timing. I don’t care who you are; if you’re Aaron Rodgers and you don’t have time, you’re not going to produce.”
While Bradford seems to be stepping into a better situation from that perspective, some questions remain regarding the Eagles’ offensive line — namely at the right guard spot. Where Jason Kelce seems a little more relaxed about it, Johnson is more anxious for a starter to emerge.
“I need ’em, right now,” said Johnson, talking about reps with his future partner. “Even in preseason games, I need to get that bond with him, be on the same level.” Johnson added that he would like to know who is starting at right guard by at least the third preseason game.
How that line holds up will obviously be critical, particularly early on as Bradford gets re-acclimated. If they struggle, the confidence that the QB seems to be building back up could fly out the window. If they thrive, perhaps the positive signs that he is starting to show this summer will carry over to Sundays.
“He’s been making steady improvement each and every day.” said Josh Huff. “He’s leading our offense and we’re all gathering around him.”