Tough week for Bradford in Philly
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sam Bradford's critics had plenty of material this week.
He's afraid to take a hit. He can't throw deep. He can't read defenses. He's too tentative in the pocket. He's too slow. He's never won anything.
The Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) hardly look like the Super Bowl contender fans expected. That makes Bradford a main target for criticism. Only coach Chip Kelly hears more grief.
''Obviously, there are ups and downs in this league,'' Bradford said. ''Would we have liked to have started 2-0? Absolutely. That's not how it went, though. We started 0-2. But we can't back down, and can't lose confidence in what we're doing or what our system is. I think we all still believe in it.''
Bradford overcame a tough start in Week 1 at Atlanta, completed 21 of 25 passes in the second half and nearly rallied the Eagles to a win before his interception on a pass that bounced off receiver Jordan Matthews' hands sealed the loss.
He struggled along with the entire offense in a 20-10 loss to Dallas. Bradford has a 72.3 passer rating and four picks in two games.
''Obviously, I haven't played to my capabilities,'' he said. ''I felt like I was playing much better than this a couple years ago, and I expect myself to play better. Sometimes when it starts out like this you have to get back to the basics.''
Many people questioned Kelly's decision to trade Nick Foles and a second-round pick to St. Louis for Bradford, who was 18-30-1 with the Rams and hadn't played since October 2013 because of two ACL surgeries on the same knee.
Foles had a breakout year in 2013, leading Philadelphia to the NFC East title. He was 14-5 under Kelly, including a playoff loss. The Eagles were 5-2 when he broke his collarbone in the first quarter of a game last November, but went 5-4 the rest of the way behind Mark Sanchez and missed the playoffs.
Kelly thought Bradford, a former No. 1 overall pick, has more potential to be an elite quarterback, so he made the move. Kelly isn't giving up on his guy now.
''He was as sharp as anybody in how he threw the ball in the preseason,'' Kelly said. ''But we are not doing that right now. Some of that is drops, some of that is protection, some of that is Sam. It's a combination of all three.''
Bradford's longest completion is 32 yards to Matthews and he's averaging only 6.3 yards per attempt. The problem isn't all him, though. Receivers aren't getting open, the offensive line isn't giving him time to throw and the run game is so poor that defenses keep a safety deep to prevent long passes.
''I think Sam does a good job of keeping a downfield focus and then if the time is right or if they take something away down the field, I think he's very good at hitting the check down,'' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said.
If Bradford doesn't get on track Sunday against the Jets (2-0), they'll be calling for Sanchez to replace him.
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