Sam Bradford's injury just the beginning of Eagles' offensive issues
Sam Bradford just can’t catch a break. That was the story today in Philadelphia, as the Eagles dropped to 4-5 with a loss to Miami, 20-19.
Bradford injured his shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and suffered a concussion—his status for Week 11 is unknown at this time.
Bradford, acquired in an offseason deal with the Rams, was just starting to find a rhythm in Chip Kelly’s offense. Since Week 3, he has a +8.2 game grade, and is the 13th-ranked quarterback in the league (76.4 overall, entering Week 10).
Bradford’s trademark accuracy has been on display again this season, placing him sixth overall in accuracy percentage, at 76.8, entering Week 10. His deep pass rating (35.3) and under pressure percentage (70.5) have also been strong, ranking him in the top 10 in both categories.
The Eagles’ backup QB, on the other hand, does not provide that level of play. QB Mark Sanchez has never graded positively over the course of any season during his seven-year career. Since his rookie season in 2009, Sanchez earned the lowest overall cumulative grade for a QB, at -64.6. Compare that to Bradford’s +8.4 career grade, and the difference in both players is evident.
Some would like to blame the Brian Schottenheimer’s of the world for Sanchez’s struggles, but even in his first season under Kelly in 2014, he was the 28th-ranked QB in accuracy percentage (71.1), the 27th rated QB in deep passing (35.1), and the 34th-ranked QB under pressure (53.5).
This should not be all about the quarterback position, though. In fact, the Eagles arguably have much bigger offensive concerns than who is under center at the moment.
By now, everyone should realize that for a Chip Kelly offense to succeed, you must be able to run the ball; and for the second consecutive season, the Eagles are getting little out of their running backs (with the exception of Ryan Mathews).
Last season, LeSean McCoy ranked 148th out of 148 running backs (-11.9) for PFF. So, trading him to Buffalo actually made sense, as Kelly would go on to acquire Mathews and last year’s fifth-ranked running back, DeMarco Murray (+15.2), to fill his place.
Unfortunately, Murray has not been the same player for the Eagles (-1.5) as he was for the Cowboys; and now Mathews, currently ranked higher (26th) at his position in the PFF season grades than Murray (38th), left the game on Sunday with a concussion and did not return.
It’s actually surprising that Mathews has not received more playing time, since he’s been a much more elusive player than Murray this season, with a 72.3 elusive rating (16th overall), nearly 50 spots higher than Murray (36.2) at 65th.
The other big issue today—and all season long—has been the unsatisfactory play from the Philadelphia wide receiver corps.
After a solid rookie season in 2014, many expected Jordan Matthews to take that next step and assume the role as the team’s primary weapon. That just hasn’t happened, as Matthews ranked as the 95th best wide receiver in the league (53.4) entering Week 10.
Through 10 weeks, the top-rated Eagles WR was actually Riley Cooper, who came in a touch above Matthews at 87th overall (56.3). Second-year WR Josh Huff has also been a disappointment, ranking 107th with 49.4 overall grade.
The Eagles were so desperate for help at the position, they actually gave 31-year old Miles Austin a shot. Austin, who hasn’t been truly effective since the 2012 season for Dallas, has been mostly invisible for Kelly. That’s except for today, when Austin not only failed to make a big TD catch late in the game, but also caused a red zone interception and a big incompletion on their last drive.
While it’s imperative for Bradford to get back on the field, the Eagles must also overcome their deficiencies from their skill position talent for them to have a legitimate chance at winning the NFC East.