NFL Wire News

Bradford takes the fall despite Eagles’ drops

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The Sports Xchange

PHILADELPHIA — Sam Bradford’s first seven games as the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback haven’t gone quite the way either he or the Eagles had hoped.

Bradford, who coach Chip Kelly viewed as a potential franchise quarterback when he traded for him in March, comes out of the team’s Week 8 bye ranked 30th in the league in passing (76.4) and 31st in yards per attempt (6.4). His 10 interceptions, including three in the red zone, are the third most in the league.

The good news is the Eagles (3-4) still are very much in the hunt in the NFC East as they get ready to face the Dallas Cowboys (2-5) on Sunday night.

While the numbers might not show it, Bradford actually had one of his better performances in the Eagles’ 27-16 loss to Carolina before the bye.

Bradford completed only 26-of-46 passes for 205 yards and no touchdowns. But his receivers had eight drops, including one by wide receiver Josh Huff in the back of the end zone.

The Eagles have a league-high 28 drops in seven games. They had 25 all last season.

Bradford, who has been abysmal on third down this season, had his best third-down performance of the season against a Carolina defense that was ranked 10th in the league on third down. He completed 8-of-15 passes for a season-high six first downs.

“When you look at the first seven games that we’ve played, there have been a lot of good things that we’ve done,” Bradford said. “But we’ve shot ourselves in the foot too many times.

“We’ve got to find a way to eliminate the self-inflicted wounds. When we do that, we’re a great offense. But when we continue to make the mistakes that we’ve made since Week 1, we put ourselves in bad situations. And it’s hard to overcome those mistakes.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of an offense where it seems to be all or nothing. When things are clicking, it just seems to be we’re out there and we’re rolling and nothing can stop us. But when things aren’t going well, it looks bad. Really bad.”

Kelly said the biggest problem with the Eagles’ passing game has been the drops.

“Missed opportunities; too many drops,” the coach said. “We dropped too many balls. I think we’re last in the league in drops, or first, however you want to look at it.

“There were a lot of things that could have extended drives for us and kept us on the field. We really affected our third-down efficiency in terms of holding onto the football, and we’ve got to do a better job of catching the football.”

Bradford has taken the drops in stride.

“I’ve just got to keep encouraging our guys,” he said. “Drops are a part of the game. They’re going to happen. Obviously, you don’t like to see them. But just because somebody drops a ball, you don’t lose any confidence in them. That’s really the message I’ve tried to convey on the sideline.

“If they have a drop, who care? Come back and make a big play for us. That’s the best thing that they could do.”

SERIES HISTORY: 109th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead the series, 60-48. The Cowboys won the first meeting between the two teams in Week 2, 20-10, holding the Eagles to seven rushing yards.

GAMEPLAN: In the Eagles’ 20-10 Week 2 loss to the Cowboys, they rushed for only seven yards on 17 carries. Since then, their running game has been much more productive. It will need to be Sunday night if they hope to beat the Cowboys and even their record at 4-4. They can’t afford to let Dallas’ defense just tee off on quarterback Sam Bradford. They have been very effective the last three weeks running out of two-tight end sets after using two tight ends very little in the first four games. Running back DeMarco Murray is averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Cowboys RDE Greg Hardy.

A classic battle between a seven-time Pro Bowler and one of the league’s best edge-rushers. But Peters is recovering from back spasms and it remains to be seen how effective he will be.

–Eagles RB Darren Sproles v. Cowboys OLBs Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens.

Sproles was targeted a season-high 10 times vs. Carolina. He is dangerous in space against linebackers and safeties.

–Eagles CBs Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll vs. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant.

Bryant, who missed the first Eagles game because of a foot injury, is one of the league’s most dangerous receivers. But he won’t have QB Tony Romo throwing the ball to him for another couple of weeks.


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