PHILADELPHIA — Is Sam a sham?
A 20-point win over a heated division rival on the national television stage which vaults you into a tie for first place is usually not the time or place to complain about the quarterback.
That said, when Chip Kelly peered into the mirror Monday morning, the Eagles’ coach knew … Sam Bradford is simply not carrying his own water as the leader of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia’s 27-7 Monday night win over the Giants is the kind of win most coaches love. The Eagles dominated New York and the offense continued to play poorly, giving Kelly plenty of teaching moments to harp on as Philadelphia gets ready for a much more formidable foe in Week 7, the unbeaten Carolina Panthers.
Kelly isn’t most coaches, though, and the fact that Bill Davis’ defensive unit is the strength of this team moving forward is not going to sit well with a guy who arrived in the NFL from Oregon with the reputation of an offensive genius.
Save for the Giants’ first two possessions where Eli Manning used tempo to limit Philadelphia’s substitutions and dominated the Eagles stop unit in the middle of the field, Davis’ group was outstanding and confused a veteran signal caller with a host of different looks.
New York’s opening eight-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard Manning TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr. when the dynamic receiver beat DeMeco Ryans produced the Giants’ only points all night.
Ryans got his revenge on the next defensive series. After a now trademarked early three-and-out to start for Bradford and Co, New York was on its way again until Ryans ripped the football away from Larry Donnell at the Eagles’ 22-yard-line. In essence it was a completed pass that Ryans simply wrestled away from the Giants tight end, shifting the momentum back toward Philadelphia.
The Eagles then promptly went on a seven-play, 78-yard drive, helped along by a mind-numbing Damontre Moore roughing-the-passer penalty, to even things after a 32-yard hookup between Bradford and Riley Cooper.
New York never scored again and really never got close as Philadelphia pulled away despite the sloppy offensive performance. The dominance started up front as Eagles edge rusher Connor Barwin gave Giants right tackle Marshall Newhouse fits and emerging All-Pro talent Fletcher Cox did the same to left guard Justin Pugh.
“They rushed the passer, and they rushed the passer well, and we didn’t do a very good job of protecting,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin admitted.
Manning finished 24-of-38 for 189 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, including a 17-yard pick-six to cornerback Nolan Carroll in the second quarter which turned out to be the game winner. As bad as Manning and his 62.3 passer rating was, however, Bradford was even worse for the Eagles.
Philadelphia’s pilot also connected on 24-of-38 passes for 280 yards and a 61.3 rating with three more interceptions, including a woeful underthrow to Zach Ertz that produced his latest end zone pick. And Bradford’s lone TD to Cooper was also a poorly thrown ball that should have also been picked by the Giants.
“We had some miscommunication today on a couple routes where the quarterback and the receiver were not on the same page, but we have to clean that up,” Kelly claimed. “We’ve talked about that. (Sam’s) getting more familiar, in terms of what we’re doing, but we can’t continue to do that against really good football teams. We were fortunate that we did it and got away with it today, but in this league, you can’t do that and sustain things and sustain winning. So, we’ve really got to clean that up on the offensive side of the ball.”
As the sample size gets larger and larger, it’s becoming evident Bradford is what he is and that the Eagles could have gotten this kind of play from Nick Foles for $12 million less and still had a second-round pick that they moved to St. Louis in the rare deal for starting QBs.
To those who defend Bradford, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick by the Rams, it’s been a consistent barrage of excuses. Injuries, playcalling, shoddy offensive line play, lack of weapons … you name it, those who once claimed Bradford was the next big thing have turned jumping on the sword for him into a cottage industry.
Here’s all you need to know about Bradford, though, when the throws are there to me made, too often he can’t make them.
One of his picks on Monday came from a completely clean pocket as he air-mailed the football over an open receiver and the INT on the pass to the 6-foot-6 Ertz was an egregious 50-50 throw, letting the coverage-challenged Landon Collins come away with a big play in the end zone.
If you ask Gil Brandt, throwing on the run and deep-ball accuracy were two of Bradford’s best traits coming out of Oklahoma. Now the only thing he has in common with Aaron Rodgers is the position they both play.
But Chip Kelly is stuck because Chip the GM can’t let his coach expose him by making a change at the quarterback position.
“It was just inconsistent, missing throws,” Bradford said. “There was some good, there was some bad. But I know for us to be where we want to be, I have to play much better.”
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
Also check @JFMcMullen on Twitter for John’s upcoming appearances on YAHOO! Sports Radio, FOX Sports Radio, YAHOO! Sports Radio Indiana, Omaha’s The Zone, Mobile’s WNSP, Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, The Score 1260 in Syracuse, Sirius’ Mad Dog Sports Radio, ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, TSN 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN 690 in Montreal and WNSR in Nashville.