Five Big-Picture Takeaways from Eagles Week 3 Win Over Jets

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3.) The Excuse ‘Grace Period’ for Sam Bradford ends against Washington

Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) drops back to pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Bradford had a ‘strong’ enough second half against the Falcons to push off criticism despite a loss. Everyone was terrible against the Cowboys, so to single out the quarterback would be glossing over one of the worst team efforts in the Chip Kelly era. Bradford was unremarkable, to say the least, against the Jets. After the game, Kelly noted the unit his offense was going up against as a reason for not pushing the vertical passing game and testing New York’s premiere corners. One could argue a couple of drops were the difference between Bradford’s final stat line, and a much more rosy outlook.

At a certain point, Chip Kelly’s focus needs to shift from trying to validate his acquisition of Sam Bradford to trying to put his team in the best position to win. Though there’s something to be said for not executing an offense that plays right into the hands of an opponent’s strength (the Colts found that out the hard way against the Jets), watering down a playbook is a whole different story. It doesn’t take a statistician to realize the Eagles have not been able to throw the ball downfield effectively to this point. Though that strategy kept the name ‘Darrelle Revis’ from being uttered seemingly throughout all of Sunday’s game, it also allowed the Jets to disregard downfield responsibilities when the Eagles were trying to run out the clock.

As far as a silver-lining goes, no one expected the conversation around Bradford to be about his hesitancy to throw the ball downfield. The oft-injured QB is three weeks in without any apparent issues. The Eagles have navigated themselves to a manageable situation in terms of the division and have an opportunity to improve that standing next week against Washington. The Eagles week 4 opponent has improved personnel-wise defensively, but are not in the same stratosphere as the Jets are from a talent and scheme standpoint. If Bradford continues to opt for the conservative approach and Kelly notes the Washington defense as a reason, the coach has to be wrong about something.

To continue with the optimistic outlook, the Eagles are once again in a veritable position of power when it comes to Bradford. Having opted against signing a contract extension when his stock was high, Bradford hinged his future fortunes to his play on the field. As it stands, one would be hard-pressed to find a GM that would invest significant resources into what they’ve seen so far. If the Eagles actually hope that Bradford is a long-term solution, Kelly has to take the training wheels off. Washington is a good defense, but can be exploited. The Eagles have to start utilizing some of their weapons on the outside, should they hope to diversify their attack. The conversation hasn’t started yet, but another game of check-downs and screen passes against Washington could be what forces Eagles fans to utter the once-unthinkable ‘Mark Sanchez’ as a preferred option.