PHILADELPHIA LOVES to hate its starting quarterbacks.
The only thing we like better than a 20-point win with three touchdown passes is a 20-point win with three interceptions. Then we can enjoy the victory, but still gripe about the guy under center.
I wasn't around then, but I can only imagine what Barkann was saying about poor Red Kirkman back in 1933 when he threw 13 interceptions and just two TD passes for that first 3-5-1 Eagles team. Legend has it some scoundrel put a bag of dog poop on the front seat of his Ford Model T after a particularly ugly loss to the Portsmouth Spartans.
The Eagles' current starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, has been a popular topic of conversation this week after another inconsistent performance in Monday night's 27-7 win over the Giants.
His seventh, eighth and ninth interceptions of the season were enough to prompt fans and critics to bring out the torches and pitchforks and start clamoring for his benching.
This no doubt is all new to Sam, who spent his first five NFL seasons in St. Louis, where they show their unhappiness over a bad performance by the football team by going to watch the baseball team.
"Obviously, I think it's different here (than other sports towns)," Bradford said Thursday. "Since I've been here, I've learned that it's a great sports town. People are passionate here. They really care.
"As far as any external pressure, though, I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone on the outside could put on me."
Bradford is an exceptionally bright guy. Certainly bright enough not to listen to the talk shows or read the papers or websites or check out Twitter in the days following a three-interception performance.
"I don't really go out a lot," he said. "It's pretty much from here (at the NovaCare Complex) to home (in South Jersey) and back here the next day. So I don't have a great sense for what's going on out in that world."
Nothing good, Sam. Let's just leave it at that.
The passion Eagles fans have for their team is similar to the passion University of Oklahoma fans had when Bradford played there. But when you're throwing 88 touchdown passes and just 16 interceptions and winning the Heisman Trophy and taking your team to the national title game, well, the torches and pitchforks tend to stay in the shed next to the John Deere tractor.
"Oklahoma football is pretty much the biggest deal in that state," Bradford said. "You couldn't go anywhere without someone coming up to you and saying something or talking about last week's game or something like that. It's more similar (here) to that as far as the passion for football than it was in St. Louis."
Bradford knows he needs to start playing better. He is tied for the second-most interceptions in the league. His third-down passing numbers are godawful. He still too often isn't on the same page as his receivers.
His first-half vs. second-half numbers are absolutely Jekyll-and-Hydeish (63.4 passer rating in the first half, 111.4 in the second half). But the guy is coming off back-to-back ACL injuries. Cut him some freaking slack. That ain't Tom Brady serving as his understudy.
Asked where he thought he would be as far as sharpness, et al, after six games, Bradford said, "I'm not really sure where I thought I would be six games in. You have expectations. You want to come out and you want to play well. You want to play to the best of your abilities.
"But as far as trying to predict how the season is going to go and where you're going to be, especially coming off the injury, I think that's hard to do.
"Would I like to have been sharper? Absolutely. But at the same time, I think I've done some things really well. I'm just looking to continue to improve each week."
That, of course, is not what Eagles fans want to hear. They want to hear that he's going to cease and desist with the interceptions.
They want to hear that he's going to go out on that field Sunday night in Charlotte and kick the Panthers' butt and light up a defense that only happens to be second in the league in opponent passer rating and has allowed just five touchdown passes in five games.
Bradford has spent a significant portion of this week working on his mechanics with quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. He thinks that has been at the root of some of his accuracy problems.
"It's been mechanical," he said. "Me and coach Day talked a little bit about it this week. I'm not sure my weight transfer has been where it should be on a couple of throws. I'm not sure I've really gotten to my front leg. I think that's why some of them have been short. So I spent a lot of time this week trying to get back to the fundamentals."
And keeping his distance from the torch-and-pitchfork crowd.
Over the next several months, NFL scouts will evaluate some of the top players in the 2016 draft for the Daily News. In our first installment, an NFC scout breaks down Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller:
Hackenberg (6-4, 228): "He's gotten better from a year ago. But I think what people are going to have to do with him is, they're going to have to do two evaluations. They've going to have to do one when he was under Bill O'Brien in a pro offense, and another one in a read-option offense (with James Franklin).
"He has all of the things you want in a quarterback. He's got size, arm strength, a good work ethic. The arrow on him is trending up. The only thing that I want to see from him the rest of the year is (better) accuracy. On the easy throws. On swings and hitches and curls. He throws a real nice deep ball. I don't have a problem with his deep ball. It's the intermediate and short stuff that he needs to work on and get better at.
"He also needs to be more consistent. You watch one series and it's, OK, that was nice. Then you watch the next series and it's like, really?"
Miller (6-2, 215): "He's kind of a Hines Ward 2.0. He's just really taken to the position since they moved him from quarterback. If you watch the first game of the year and then watch the fifth game, you can just notice the comfortability level (increase), the route-running skills (improve).
"He's a big kid. It's not like this is a little guy. He's climbing the charts in my eyes. Size, speed. Very good hands. He just needs to learn and develop as a true wideout. It's still early, but he's probably not a first-round pick. Right now, I'd say mid-2. But he can move up."
FROM THE LIP
* "It takes a lot of courage to play this sport. And courage to me is that you're a little scared, but you go anyway. And I think that's kind of what it is. That's what's so special about this sport. Mighty men play this sport. It's not for everybody." - Bill coach Rex Ryan explaining football to the British media
* "You have everyone chirpin' about money. And the sad thing about it is, this is only going to get worse. The business of (the) NFL is getting bigger. Players are getting smarter. There's more information. So this is just the beginning. It's going to be hard to keep teams together because everybody is going to be looking in the mirror saying, 'Me, me, me, me, me,' " - Jets WR Brandon Marshall
* "I know who he is and I saw the play. He's playing football. He's trying to get to the quarterback. He's not dirty. He's not trying to do anything cheap, and that was it." - Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell defending Olivier Vernon's low hit on Titans QB Marcus Mariota
BY THE NUMBERS
* Since Oct. 21, 2012, every team in the league has played in at least one regular-season overtime game. Except the Eagles.
* The Patriots are a league-best 17-1 (.944) at home against division opponents since 2009. The Colts are second with a 17-2 (.895) record. The 49ers and Packers are tied for third with 15-2-1 records (.861).
* Packers QB Aaron Rodgers became the fastest player in history to reach 30,000 career passing yards last week. He did it in 3,652 attempts. Previously, the fastest guy to do it was Johnny Unitas, who cracked 30,000 in 3,695 attempts.
* The Ravens are 46-9 when Joe Flacco doesn't throw an interception, and are 4-22 when he throws multiple picks.
* There have been 47 games decided by seven points or less in the first six weeks. That's the second most at this point in league history. The record is 50 (1999).
* "Tose: The Movie" a 15-minute short film produced, directed and written by Havertown native Mike Tollin, will make its debut Saturday and Sunday at the Philadelphia Film Festival. It will shown Saturday at the Ritz East B right before the showing of "The Prince of Pennsylvania," an ESPN 30 for 30 film about John DuPont, You also can see "Tose" next month on ESPN, ESPN.com and Grantland. It doesn't sugar-coat the late Eagles owner's flaws. "I was one of those compulsive gamblers," Tose, who died broke in 2003, tells late NFL Films president Steve Sabol. "And it didn't mix well with scotch." It ends with Dick Vermeil, who, along with Ron Jaworski, supported Tose for several years after he lost every penny of his fortune to gambling, tearfully reminiscing about his friend. "He gave me a lot more than I gave him," Vermeil says. "(He was) a pain in the ass sometimes. But (he was) a good man. And I loved him. And he knew I loved him." The film doesn't get into Tose's 1984 attempt to move the Eagles to Phoenix. Tollin has been shopping a script for a movie on Tose for several years with no luck. Considering some of the garbage Hollywood studios have invested money on, it's hard to believe they are reluctant to bite on Tose's compelling riches-to-rags tale.
* The deadline for the first round of voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2016 is Oct. 30. The 41 selectors, including myself, will reduce the preliminary list of 108 former players and coaches to 25 semifinalists. Here is my ballot:
RUNNING BACK (3)
WIDE RECEIVER (3)
OFFENSIVE LINE (5)
DEFENSIVE LINE (2)
DEFENSIVE BACK (3)
* On Sunday night, Sam Bradford will be trying to beat Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Last year, he used him as inspiration after tearing his ACL for the second time in 10 months. Davis is the only player in NFL history to come back from three ACL injuries to the same knee. Not only come back, but come back and become one of the league's top linebackers. After Bradford reinjured his knee last summer, Rams director of sports medicine performance Reggie Scott, who had been the head trainer in Carolina, told him about Davis' valiant comeback. "I don't know (Davis) personally, but our trainer in St. Louis, who was in Carolina before he came to St. Louis, was very familiar with his story," Bradford said. "I remember last year, when my second (ACL tear) happened, he brought that right up. He said, 'Listen, don't think it can't be done. Don't think you can't come back.' He said, 'There's been a guy I know who's come back from three of them.' That was one of the things that kind of gave me some motivation early on in the process knowing that it has been done before."
* The Eagles are moving back up the Super Bowl odds charts. Oddsmaker Bovada, which had the Eagles at 35-1 to win the Super Bowl following their loss to Washington in Week 4, now has them at 18-1, behind only the Patriots (11-4), Packers (13-4), Bengals (10-1), Broncos (10-1) and Cardinals (12-1).
* Not including a pair of kneel-downs and a spike, the Eagles ran just two plays with Bradford under center against the Giants. Both were pass plays. One was Bradford's 32-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. The other was the first of Bradford's three interceptions. The Eagles have run just 37 plays from under center in the first six games. Thirty-four have been runs (for 90 yards).
* The Eagles already have been flagged five times for offensive pass interference in the first six games. The only team that's been flagged more is the Patriots (six). Last season, the Eagles were called for offensive pass interference three times the whole year. The Eagles' 14 calls for offensive holding are tied for the fourth most in the league. A six-game comparison of some of the more significant penalties against the Eagles this season with last year's six-game totals (note: the totals include penalties that were called, not just accepted):
Offensive holding: 14 13
False start: 6 5
Illegal formation: 3 1
Delay of game: 3 0
Defensive holding: 6 4
Illegal contact: 2 2
Defensive pass interference: 3 1
Offensive Pass interference: 5 1
* Bradford's average snap-to-release time this season has been 2.52 seconds, according to Pro Football Focus. That's actually the fastest release time of his career and in the middle of the pack as far as the rest of the league's starting quarterbacks. FYI, Nick Foles' average release time in 2013 when he threw 27 TD passes and just two interceptions was 2.88.
* Forty-eight of the Eagles' 78 possessions have been five plays or less. Forty-five drives have eaten up less than two minutes off the clock.
* The Eagles continue to be the kings of tempo. They have run a play every 23.1 seconds in the first six games. That's the fastest in the league, but not by much. The Houston Texans are averaging a play every 23.2 seconds. Last season, the Eagles averaged a play every 22.7 seconds. Through six games, the Eagles have averaged 66.0 plays per game. That's only the 14th most in the league. The Texans have averaged 75.7, followed by the Chargers (70.2), Falcons (70.0) and Ravens (69.0). The 10 teams with the fastest play frequency so far this season, and the six with the slowest:
* Probably not a good time to mention this, but Bradford has the fourth-best career interception percentage (2.4) among current NFL quarterbacks. The only three with a better mark are Aaron Rodgers (1.6), Tom Brady (2.0) and Matt Ryan (2.3). Bradford is tied for the second-most interceptions (nine). His three red-zone picks lead the league (the Manning brothers, Philip Rivers and Nick Foles each have two). Since he entered the league in 2010, Bradford has 47 interceptions in 1,988 attempts. But 11 of those 47 have been in the red zone, which is the fourth most over the last six years. A breakdown of the QBs with the most red-zone interceptions since 2010:
Player Att. Int. Red Zone Int.
Eli Manning: 3,051 101 18
Carson Palmer: 2,468 80 13
Philip Rivers: 3,018 82 13
Sam Bradford: 1,988 47 11
Matthew Stafford: 2,959 74 11
Drew Brees: 3,503 87 11
Jay Cutler: 2,270 71 10
Tom Brady: 3,147 45 9
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 2,348 81 9
Joe Flacco: 2,977 73 9
Chad Henne: 1,491 49 9
Cam Newton: 2,080 58 8
Ben Roethlisberger: 2,632 52 8
Mark Sanchez: 1,812 60 8