Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bradford Showing Signs Of Life

How Sam Bradford is starting to put the Eagles in a position to win games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

After the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins Sunday, Chip Kelly was asked for his evaluation of Sam Bradford.

“At times, I thought he looked good,” Kelly said.

After re-watching the game film, however, Kelly may want to amend that answer. Bradford certainly had his costly miscues — including an over-thrown ball to Jordan Matthews and an under-thrown pass to Nelson Agholor — but he registered his best game of the season by completing 15 of his 28 passes for 270 yards, three touchdowns and a 122.6 passer rating.

Perhaps more importantly, he finally showed the arm talent that made Kelly trade for him. As Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Sunday, Bradford made some great throws, and he’s starting to put the Eagles in a position to win.

Does he look like the quarterback many predicted after a phenomenal preseason? No. Bradford did, however, take his biggest step of the season toward that expectation on Sunday.

Bradford completed four passes of at least 30 yards against Washington, but one of his most impressive throws was an 11-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz that was called back because of a penalty.

Ertz

The above screenshot quality isn’t great, but it shows the tight window Bradford had to fit the ball into. As the ball got closer to Ertz and the tight end made the catch, the window only shrank.

Ertz 2

The throw looks even more impressive when you freeze the play when Bradford begins his throwing motion. As you can see above, it takes a lot of anticipation — and pinpoint accuracy — to not only deliver a catchable ball, but to put it in a place where only his target can get it.

“He’s becoming more and more comfortable with not only the concepts,” Pat Shurmur said, “but who is running the concepts.”

Shurmur’s take was also apparent on Bradford’s 45-yard bomb to Nelson Agholor. We explained yesterday how Agholor was able to get open on this play, but Bradford also delivered a great throw.

Agholor 1

To give you a sense of the level of anticipation necessary to complete this pass, above is where Agholor was located around the time Bradford began his throwing motion. At this point, Agholor had yet to create separation and he was about 20 yards away from where he caught the ball.

Although the rookie receiver made a great one-handed grab, Bradford also made a good throw.

“Sam is taking what the defense gives us,” Kelly said. “And in those situations, the defense gave us an opportunity to throw the ball over the top, and when they did that, we took advantage of it.”

Another capability Bradford showed Sunday — which he flashed earlier in the season, but not to the same degree of success — was throwing on the run. Although he hits a stationary target in Brent Celek for the 10-yard touchdown pass, he did a great job of eluding the unblocked rusher.

This was a problem he often had to deal with against Washington because of poor pass protection.

“Sam is playing well, but what really needs to happen is we need to help him out more than we have been,” Celek said. “He’s shown he can make those throws, but we need to play much better around him.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

“That’s just a tough situation.” A look back at how each key play unfolded against Washington.

Jason Peters and Lane Johnson were sidelined as the Eagles practiced Tuesday.

Nick Foles and the Rams knocked off an undefeated team, and more from the Eagles’ offseason departures.

“The flaws were deep-rooted and shattered the illusion before long.” Tim explored Chip’s theory that execution is the only thing separating the Eagles from excellence.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The Sam Bradford trade looks worse with each passing week, says Phil Sheridan.

That season is now 25 percent over and the Eagles are no closer to knowing whether they found their franchise quarterback or whether Bradford is in the same category as Foles or Mark Sanchez or a number of other quarterbacks.

The Eagles are 1-3 in Bradford’s four starts. Bradford has completed 88 of 145 passes (60.7 percent) for 948 yards. He has thrown six touchdown passes and four interceptions. His passer rating is 82.2.

Marcus Hayes wonders if Chip Kelly even believes what he’s preaching to the media.

Obstinately, Kelly refuses to change his sputtering offense’s ferocious tempo, even in the face of weekly proof that his overworked defense is tired. At some point, Kelly will have to acknowledge football is a game of attrition.

Won’t he?

COMING UP

Chip Kelly will speak to the media at 10:50 a.m.