Sam Bradford still average in his Eagles’ debut

Nathan Jahnke explains how Sam Bradford performed in his Eagles' debut.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Joe Minx

    Last night the Eagles’ new-look offensive line did a fine job of keeping Bradford clean

    I’m sorry, what? He was pounded into the turf on at least 8 different occasions.

    • Izach

      Out of over 50 attempts that’s not as bad as it would seem

      • Justin Michael

        That and most of those hits (probably 90%) came in the first half. Second half, when he was killing it, the offensive line kept him clean.

    • djr12

      Yeah the linemen themselves said they did a terrible job in the first half. Not sure where that statement came from.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The over/under on weeks Bradford will be able to avoid the IR list is probably about 5. The only QB less durable than him is waiting for his chance to leave Washington.

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    Same old Bradford.

    Fear to throw deep that only rivals Alex Smith.

    • djr12

      As an Eagles fan who was highly skeptical of the Foles (+pick) for Bradford trade, week 1 did not allay any of my fears. Foles isn’t anybody’s idea of a prototypical quarterback. But he sure seems to get the job done, warts and all. Gutted out a win over a tough Seahawks team while Bradford couldn’t beat one of the worst teams in the league.

  • codered5

    Once again I must say quarterbacks SHOULD grade negatively under pressure. They should grade positively against the blitz because there are ways to take advantage of liabilities of blitzing but if the pressure does reach a quarterback they are SUPPOSED to perform poorly.That’s why pass rushers are valuable. I don’t get why pff post articles about guys not playing as well when pressured. Even aaron Rodgers grades poorly when pressured, but he’s the best against the blitz. If your qb is consistantly good when pressured why even bother drafting good offensive linemen.

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