It's better to be good for one half than to be bad for two, but Sam Bradford has yet to put together a full 60-minute performance that doesn't include qualifiers about turnovers or a reluctance to throw deep.
The closest the Eagles quarterback got to delivering on both accords was last week against the Redskins. Losing wasn't Bradford's fault, but that he was much more effective in the second half compared with the first clouded his best outing since joining the team.
The trend continued Sunday in a 39-17 victory over the Saints. Bradford tossed two interceptions in the end zone in the first half but had nary a turnover after the break.
He was actually sharp - aside from the picks, of course - during the first 30 minutes. He also has made some ill-advised decisions in the second half of games, but generally Bradford has started slowly and finished strong this season.
"We could play a game earlier," Chip Kelly joked Monday when asked how he could get Bradford started earlier. "See if we get a scrimmage going before it, a doubleheader. He'd be great at a doubleheader."
In the first half of five games, Bradford has completed 54 of 96 passes (56.3 percent) for 524 yards (5.5 per attempt) with two touchdowns and three interceptions. In the second half, he has completed 66 of 94 throws (70.2 percent) for 757 yards (8.1 per) with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His first half vs. second half passer rating: 65.6 to 102.1.
Bradford had a reputation for starting slowly with the Rams, but he had nearly identical passer ratings in the first half (80.0) vs. the second (79.7).
"Maybe he just needs to see the looks a little bit more - he settles down a little bit," Kelly said. "I know he has been statistically . . . better, but I think maybe he just gets settled a little bit more."
If that's true, and if the same were to apply to the season as a whole, perhaps the second half Bradford will be better than the first. He already has shown signs, overall, of improvement. The last two games have not only been statistically better than the first three, but Bradford has increasingly looked more comfortable in a new offense.
Most important, the Eagles won two of three. Despite the struggles of the first month, they have an opportunity to move into a tie atop of the NFC East with a win over the 3-2 New York Giants on Monday night.
But Bradford will have to be more consistent if a flawed Eagles offense is to gain some momentum. After an impressive deep-ball showing in Washington, he didn't complete any of six pass attempts beyond 20 yards against New Orleans.
The Eagles chose to focus more on the middle of the field and exploiting mismatches in between the numbers, and Bradford was mostly accurate with those throws. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 284 yards on passes up to 19 yards.
Three of those attempts were dropped by wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper, and tight end Zach Ertz. Only the Giants have as many drops as the Eagles (17) this season.
"Jordan and [Nelson Agholor] come in here every morning at 7 o'clock and are on the JUGS machines and are really working on the mechanics to fundamentally catching the football," Kelly said. "But, it's something that has hurt us in every game we've played. We call those SIWs - self-inflicted wounds."
Bradford, of course, has sometimes been his own worst enemy with interceptions. He underthrew an open Cooper on a corner route in the end zone in the first quarter and was a touch behind Miles Austin on a slant into the end zone in the second.
"I just have to put it back to the pylon and let him go get it," Bradford said of the pass to Cooper. "And then the second one, I think [cornerback Delvin Breaux] made a good play."
There were only a few other moments, however, when Bradford was off. He was high to Ertz over the middle in the second quarter, threw short of Josh Huff in the end zone, and short-armed a fade to an open Cooper again.
But Bradford stayed composed after the red zone turnovers. An ineffective Saints defense certainly made it easier to not dwell on the mistakes.
"You just keep going," Bradford said after the game. "Obviously, you don't like to throw interceptions, but when you do, you just have to forget about it and move on. I thought our guys did a great job at just continuing to battle.
"It would be easy to fold up and say, 'Oh man, Sam's throwing interceptions, we're done, we can't do anything.' But that's really not how it went today at all."
Cooper's demonstrative reaction after the underthrown passes said otherwise. But Bradford never seemed to lose his cool in the pocket. The protection he had from the offensive line and the return of the running game helped matters. He had struggled previously against the blitz (11 of 27 for 75 yards), but completed 8 of 9 passes for 80 when the Saints sent extra rushers.
Kelly also got Bradford outside of the pocket more than in the first four games. The designed play-action passes netted several completions, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Huff.
It was effective, a reporter noted Monday during the news conference.
Kelly knocked on his podium.
It's unlikely the pragmatic Kelly believes superstition has anything to do with Bradford's slow starts. It's about execution.