FANS are talking a lot about the hit that QB Sam Bradford took to his left knee from Ravens LB Terrell Suggs. Many actually felt a sense of relief that after the hit, because Bradford’s knee held up. Allow me to let you in on a secret. The hit he took isn’t the real test of his knee. In fact there is no real TEST. It’s actually several tests.
If you want to know what the first real test will be, take a few seconds to do a 3-step drop (or just open your stance like you’re in the Shotgun or the Pistol), and then pretend to throw a football.
If you’re right-handed (and Bradford is), you’ll notice that your plant leg (the leg in front when you released the ball), is your left leg. The left knee is Bradford’s bad knee. In 2013 the Eagles averaged 31.7 pass attempts per game. In 2014 that number jumped to 38.8. So basically in this system we throw the ball a little over 35 times a game. That’s a lot of time spent planting and throwing off of that knee.
Here’s a sports science fact that many of my readers are already familiar with. The majority of ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and Achilles tendon injuries are non-contact injuries. That means they occur without direct contact or from being hit. The injury is more often caused by the foot getting caught on the ground during a sudden change of direction, or as the knee twists sharply. Again that’s most of those injuries. By the way, neither of Bradford’s two ACL injuries were a result of any direct contact to his leg whatsoever.
If his injury was the result of a hit, I could see that first hit helping him past a psychological block, or the inner question of “Will another hit hurt me again?” However since a hit didn’t hurt his knee, he likely had no such demon to slay, and wasn’t worried about that. If he wasn’t worried about it, then neither was I.
So during the preseason game vs the Ravens, I wanted to see how much he was going to be asked to bootleg wide, and was even more curious about how often he’d be used as a (back door) decoy to help the (front door) run game. What I saw was an Eagles Offense that looked very different when Bradford was in, as opposed to when any of the other three QB’s played.
While Bradford did move around out there, you’d have to be Ray Charles not to see a difference in how mobile he was asked to be, vs any other Eagles QB that took a snap. That makes me wonder about what our regular season Offense will look like.
I’d like to see him play at least a half in the next preseason game. I don’t want to make a big deal of the few snaps Bradford was allowed last week, but to this point our starting QB has all of FIVE pass attempts in a game situation. He needs more reps at game speed. Particularly at Eagles game speed. It would also be nice to see if he can pick up any yards with his feet, and if he can (or would try to) hook slide to avoid hits.
The remaining real tests of his knee will be how long it can stand the wear and tear of him doing his job. (Remember that plant leg?) It’ll be how fast he can be ready to practice after 30-40 attempts in a game. It’ll be about how little time he spends with the trainers in pain management, vs how much time he spends working out with his teammates. It’ll be about whether his knee also lets him lead off the field; or if it opens the door for back-up QB Mark Sanchez to step in for him in that capacity.
One more thing. The fans may also want to get ready for the season.
I’m noticing days later, that many fans are still pissed over the Suggs hit. If that hit still bothers you, you may want to sit this season out, because you can expect much more of that coming and there won’t be many flags to follow it. Our play-action/read-option fools not just opponents but referees too. As a result Bradford will absorb a lot of hits that won’t draw yellow.