Sam Bradford still average in his Eagles' debut
All offseason there was plenty of talk on the Eagles’ moves, but the one that needs to pan out the most in order for the Eagles to be successful is the addition of quarterback Sam Bradford. He hadn’t played in a meaningful game since Week 7 of 2013 prior to last night’s Monday Night Football game against the Falcons, and in that spotlight, Bradford played exactly how you would expect him to play.
In 2013, Bradford was an exceptionally accurate quarterback when he was not under pressure. He had a completion percentage of 71.2 percent on those throws. Last night the Eagles’ new-look offensive line did a fine job of keeping Bradford clean, and on plays where he wasn’t under pressure his completion percentage was up to 75.6.
When he was under pressure, however, the problems started. In 2013 he completed just 38.8 percent of his passes under pressure. That was up to 45.5 percent against the Falcons, but he failed to have a positively graded throw under pressure. All of his completions had a depth of pass of 5 yards or less, and his terrible interception to end the first half also came while under pressure.
Bradford also is a quarterback who rarely throws a deep pass. Only 8.4 percent of his passes in 2013 went at least 20 yards in the air, which was fourth-lowest rate among quarterbacks that year. On Monday Night Football, his deepest pass traveled 23 yards in the air, with every other pass going for 18 yards or less.
The biggest concern for Bradford this season is his health, and the Eagles’ game plan was designed to make sure he avoids getting hit. He got the ball out of his hands within 2.5 seconds on 41 of his 54 passes, which led to an average time to throw of 2.27 seconds. That was the fourth-lowest among quarterbacks in Week 1, a primary reason behind his not getting sacked yet.
There is a positive spin to take off of Bradford’s performance, which is that you’d expect any player who just missed the last season and a half to be a little rusty. In the first quarter he averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt. That increased each quarter to 4.9 in the second quarter, 8.3 on the third and 9.1 in the fourth.
In other words, if Bradford plays the rest of the season similar to how he did in the second half, then it doesn’t matter that the Eagles ended up losing this one. Philadelphia has a bright future with Bradford as its quarterback if that’s the case, and Eagles fans who came away disappointed with his debut might still get the offensive explosion they were looking for; just as long as the offensive line keeps the defenders away and he can stay healthy.