NFL Wire News

Bye gives Eagles chance to catch — their breath


The Sports Xchange

PHILADELPHIA — Last year, Philadelphia Eagles receivers dropped 25 passes the entire season.

Through seven games this year, they already have dropped 28, including eight in a 27-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.

Coach Chip Kelly thinks his players need to take a deep breath and remember how to play the game. They get a chance to breathe during a bye this week.

Quarterback Sam Bradford, who was acquired from St. Louis via trade in March and missed most of the previous two seasons because of back-to-back ACL injuries, has been out of synch with his receivers since the start of the season.

“I think our quarterback is playing well; I have been pleased with Sam, very pleased with Sam,” Kelly said, dismissing stats that show Bradford is 29th in the league in passing and has thrown a league-high 10 interceptions.

Mitigating circumstances can be cited.

Besides all of the drops, there have been numerous miscommunications on routes.

Bradford is 29th in the league in passing with a 76.4 rating. He’s 30th in yards per attempt (6.4), 21st in completion percentage (62.0) and is tied with Peyton Manning of Denver for most interceptions (10).

The Eagles have been ineffective throwing the ball on third down. Bradford is last in the league in third-down yards per attempt (4.04) and next to last in third-down completion percentage (47.9).

The drops have been a major problem.

Bradford’s only interception against the Panthers came on a pass that went right under slot receiver Jordan Matthews’ left armpit and into the arms of Carolina’s Colin Jones.

Wide receiver Josh Huff dropped another Bradford pass in the end zone that should have been a touchdown. Neither pass was perfect, but like all of the 28 drops, they were catchable.

If only 15 of those 28 drops were caught, Bradford’s 62.0 completion percentage would jump 5 1/2 points.

Kelly said the problem with the drops isn’t a lack of talent, but a lack of concentration.

“I think it’s a concentration issue with some of these guys,” he said. “I think sometimes they may actually be thinking too much instead of just relaxing and going to play.

“Some of them need to just take a big, deep breath and do what we know they can do. And they have made some big-time catches in games for us and continue to do that for us. But I think sometimes they are overthinking a little bit.”

While his numbers against Carolina (26-for-46, 205 yards, no touchdowns, one interception) might not show it, Bradford played one of his best games of the season.

His decision-making was good. He moved around the pocket pretty well against a fairly ferocious Carolina rush that sacked him five times.

But thanks to the drops and a run defense that had its first bad performance of the season (204 yards allowed on 33 carries), the Eagles lost for the fourth time in seven games.

Kelly said he counted “at least eight, could have been 10” drops against the Panthers.

“Obviously, we’re not going to win if we’re doing that, you know what I mean?” he said. “We have to be able to sustain things and we have to be able to make catches out there.”

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