SAM Bradford is not to blame for the Eagles passing game woes. Or so we keep being told. In fact our Head Coach/GM went as far as to say at his Monday press conference, that he’s pleased with Bradford’s play. So Bradford is officially blameless for this mess. Instead what’s happening is the entire receiving corps is being thrown under the bus (by the media) because of the high number of drops this year. But the truth is, the drops aren’t the problem.
I’m not saying that the 18 drops should be swept under the rug; but don’t you find it odd that suddenly everyone on the team can’t catch? No fan came into 2015 worried about the hands of WR Jordan Matthews. He had a nice rookie year, so expectations were high for 2015. Some of us were concerned about WR Josh Huff, but that had way more to do with mental lapses than his ability to catch. Rookie WR Neslon Agholor had most fans salivating over the idea of what he’d do once the games counted.
All those guys and this Offense looked so good during the preseason, right? So what changed? Speculation is that Matthews might have a hand injury, but his injury can’t cause RB Darren Sproles to drop passes. The coach suggested that it’s likely a concentration issue. So wait….his answer is that suddenly everyone has poor concentration? Come on now, Kelly. That dog don’t even hunt.
Meanwhile as we focus on 18 drops in 274 attempts, what no one is discussing are the Real Problems. And yes I said problems not problem. The First Problem isn’t the drops, it’s the completions. That’s not a typo, and I’ll say it again. The first problem is the completions. More directly it’s where they happen.
Entering Week 8, our 3rd down conversion percentage (32%) is 4th lowest in the league. That has a lot to do with where the ball is thrown. Swing passes that meet our RB’s at or behind the line of scrimmage, and passes over the middle to WR’s crossing beneath LB depth, are the norm now, and it repeatedly leaves us in poor down and distance situations, often setting up 3rd and long. This is made worse by repeatedly throwing the ball short of the first down marker during those same 3rd and long situations.
The routes run during the plays are not Bradford’s fault, but it brings up the Second Problem. While Bradford didn’t design the Offense or draw up the plays, he does elect whom he throws to. That is 100% on him. However, instead of challenging a defense, he nearly always reverts to Checkdown Charlie, and takes only what a defense will allow him to have. And then we punt.
This is every game so far, regardless of what defense we face or which coverage is rolled out. Be it Cover One or Cover Four, Man or Zone, the behavior is the same. Our Quarterback doesn’t play to win, he plays to not lose. That’s fine if the opponent is willing to self-destruct for you, but if they play even remotely competent/competitive ball, we’re in trouble.
Under Michael Vick this Offense was productive. Under Nick Foles this Offense was productive. Under Mark Sanchez this Offense was productive. Under Sam Bradford it’s sputtering because he’s okay with “just getting by”.
The obvious (and temporary) solution is Sanchez, but as I told you before, it won’t happen because then the GM is admitting that he blew it trading for Bradford. This brings up the Third Problem where the GM sandbags the Head Coach with a player that EVERYONE KNOWS he’s not happy with. It’s Kelly throwing himself under the bus to keep himself from making himself look bad. And we all get to watch him drag himself through shit. Meanwhile Howie Roseman, still smells like a rose man. Just as I told you he would.