Bradford, Birds Not Worried ‘At All’ About Offense
PITTSBURGH — After the Eagles ran just four offensive plays in the first quarter last night against the Steelers, Doug Pederson adjusted his plan and realized his unit needed to play for the entire second quarter. Pederson’s first-team offense was on the field for just three snaps last week due to a quick touchdown, and he needed to get a better glimpse at where his players are at right now.
In five first-half drives, the Eagles picked up just over 19 yards per series and never reached the red zone. Sam Bradford completed 14 of his 19 passes for 115 yards, but when he got into a rhythm in the second quarter, two penalties killed a promising drive.
“We really didn’t [struggle early on]. We moved the ball. The penalties were the biggest thing,” Pederson said after his 17-0 win. “Those were the things that killed us. Any time that those things happen, it makes it look like the offense is struggling.
“Some of the things we have to clean up are the penalties. You’re killing some explosive plays offensively. We have to make sure our alignments are right. A couple of young guys, whether it’s the excitement of the game, nerves or whatever it might be, they just have to be a little more focused in those situations.”
The second-team offense did begin the third quarter with a 15-play, 87-yard touchdown drive, and the offensive line looked much better as a whole as they allowed far fewer quarterback hits. The lone sack the Eagles gave up was when the Steelers seemed to see a play-action pass coming, which called for Bradford to roll out unprotected on a naked bootleg.
Bradford also audibled multiple times, one of which resulted in a 22-yard completion to Nelson Agholor, who — despite a drop — played better than he did in the first preseason game.
“I just wanted to see our communication at the line of scrimmage. I wanted to see our tempo in and out of the huddle. I thought those were both really good tonight. I think it was more about that than it was coming out and being flashy,” Bradford said.
“We consistently got to the line with more than 20 seconds left in the play clock, which is huge. Especially once you get into the regular season where we will have more checks, more kills, where we need that time to figure out play we want to get into. From the procedural standpoint, the tempo in and out of the huddle tonight was really good.”
Pederson continued his vanilla play calling in Pittsburgh and didn’t game plan much because of where the Eagles are at in the preseason schedule. But as the first-team offense is expected to get more reps next week, Pederson says the scheme against the Colts could be a little different.
When Philadelphia travels to Indianapolis on Saturday, it may be Bradford’s final appearance in the preseason, and his last chance to develop some momentum heading into the regular season.
“I’m not really concerned at all,” Bradford said. “We did some really good things tonight. You want to score touchdowns, but it didn’t happen. I don’t think there is a lot of concern from me right now.”