Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bradford And the Second Act
For all the opinions submitted on the 2015 Eagles this offseason, Jon Runyan‘s take has held up about as well as any through the first eight games.
“I say give [Chip Kelly] the opportunity to get his own people in there and see what happens. It may turn out to not be that great of a season, but you go through those growing pains,” he told 97.5 The Fanatic back in May. “When you have massive turnover like that, that creates some inconsistencies. The lack of communication and that non-verbal communication that you have with your teammates — because you don’t have as many reps with them, that shows itself on Sundays.
“It could be bad, but you never know. You get a defense getting turnovers and a prolific offense putting points up, it changes the whole dynamic. It can happen, but history says it’s not going to be pretty.”
And it wasn’t during the first half, particularly on offense. The o-line, working with two new pieces in the middle, was out of whack early; DeMarco Murray struggled to gain traction; the receivers didn’t take command of their new roles; and the conductor, Sam Bradford, labored to keep the beat.
Coming off a 33-27 win over the Cowboys in which the offense appeared to finally find its flow, Kelly acknowledged the point that Runyan made months earlier.
“We do have some new players here. So to think that on Day 1 they’re just going to step in and (snaps fingers) plug-and-play, it doesn’t happen. This is a league where you have to practice, you have to train, you have to get in-sync with the 10 other guys you’re working with. So I think all of those guys are just starting to feel more comfortable,” he said.
Including his quarterback. Bradford put forth arguably his best performance in an Eagles uniform in Dallas. And while there have definitely been some bad moments over the last handful of games, Kelly thinks he’s trending upward overall.
“I think everything in Sam’s game has gotten better. As I’ve said before, I’ve seen Sam improve on a weekly basis here. He’s better in Game 8 than he was in Game 1. I think he’s more comfortable in terms of what we’re doing,” he said.
“In terms of where we are with a lot of these guys, it’s kind of like there’s a movie being shown and he showed up halfway through it, and then he’s supposed to figure out what’s going on and what did I miss in the first half of the movie because he hadn’t been with us for the amount of time that Brent [Celek]‘s been here and [Jason] Kelce and all those other guys. It’s something you have to get through reps. It’s not something that can be forced. He works extremely hard at it. He’s in this building all the time, he’s watching film, he’s studying, he’s working at it. We’ve seen constant improvement out of Sam and I hope it continues. Hopefully he’ll continue to play even better as we move forward.”
When talking about the improvements on defense a couple weeks back, Kelly pointed to the continuity on that side of the ball (namely, in the front seven) as a main key. The offense, while making progress, is clearly not as far along. How quickly it matures will go a long way in determining what kind of finish we’ll have to the season, and whether Kelly can get on the other side of history.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles placed Jordan Hicks on injured reserve Monday with a pectoral injury.
“You could see it in his eyes.” On Jordan Matthews‘ return to form, and everything else, in day-after notes.
“He had a lot of animosity from that last game.” DeMarco Murray dominated his return to Dallas.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer details what he learned from the Eagles’ Sunday night win, including a little something called momentum.
The Eagles have won three of their last four games and their lone loss in that span – to the undefeated Panthers before the bye – doesn’t look nearly as bad after Carolina toppled the Packers on Sunday. And the Eagles could have walked away with a victory if it weren’t for a collection of dropped passes.
Does that mean they deserve to be mentioned along with the Panthers, Packers or even the equally 4-4 Seahawks? Hardly. The Eagles’ three wins still came against teams with a collective record of 11-15: the 4-5 Saints, 5-4 Giants and 2-6 Cowboys. They still need to beat a top-tier team to be considered a contender for prizes beyond an NFC East crown.
But Chip Kelly certainly has his troops marching in the right direction after a 1-3 start. And the Eagles have an opportunity over the next three games to move ahead of the division-leading Giants, who will face the undefeated Patriots next week.
For the majority of the night, it didn’t seem likely or even possible, but Sam Bradford saved the day against the Cowboys, writes CSN Philadelphia’s John Gonzalez.
If Bradford deserved criticism (and he did) before the Dallas game for not playing well enough to justify the Eagles’ unloading a second-round pick to get him, then he earned some attaboys and back-pats after Sunday night’s wild win. If he didn’t put that drive together — or, worse, if he made some massive mistake — it would have scuttled the Eagles’ season and set Bradford up as the principal fall guy for an underachieving team that disappointed itself and its fans.
Instead, Bradford took the Eagles down the field (with quite a bit of help from the running game, it should be noted). He went 5 for 5 on the drive, including a 41-yard touchdown to Jordan Matthews, who mercifully held onto the ball. Game over. Season still in progress.
Billy Davis and Pat Shurmur will address the media before practice.