Sam Bradford's interceptions don't signify doom for Eagles
QB's interceptions are correctable mistakes, not irreversible flaws.
I GUESS I'll be the one to defend Sam Bradford. Insert an interception joke here if you'd like. Get it out of your system. Then, let's have a rational discussion. Because I still have not heard anybody make a compelling case for how the Eagles should proceed at quarterback beyond sticking with Bradford and hoping his current stretch of nine interceptions in six games turns out to be what the statistics suggest it is: an anomaly.
Please don't mistake this for an argument that the Eagles' only concern with Bradford should be deciding how many zeros to tack on to the total value of his next contract. That is another issue for another day. There is a reason the Eagles did not make an aggressive offer on an extension before the season, and everything we've seen through six games suggests it was a prudent decision. But the questions of Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now can have different answers, and, while Bradford has a long way to go to show he should remain with the Eagles for years to come, you will struggle to build an argument that he shouldn't be there now.
Nobody will dispute the notion that an NFL quarterback will lose most games in which he throws multiple interceptions. That Bradford has thrown two or more picks in four of his six starts this season is not a good thing. An informal straw poll reveals we all agree on that. Chip Kelly, Pat Shurmur, the fans, the media, Bradford himself, the guy who was eating a slice of pizza at Pagano's the other day and overheard my boss and me talking about it. It's unanimous. Interceptions are bad.
Where the logic grows fuzzy is the suggestion that Bradford's interceptions have been the rule rather than the exception to his play, particularly the five he threw in the last two weeks, and that they represent a fundamental, irreversible flaw, rather than a series of correctable mistakes all quarterbacks endure at some point during their careers. And the logic grows even fuzzier with the suggestion that a switch to Mark Sanchez is somehow the remedy.
With regard to the first suggestion, consider that the Eagles have racked up 944 yards of offense over the last two weeks, their biggest consecutive-week total since Weeks 8 and 9 of last season, when they gained 521 yards in a loss to the Cardinals and 483 yards in a win over the Texans. Those 944 yards are more than the Eagles posted in any two-week stretch under Sanchez in 2014. The 34 first downs they gained against the Saints two weeks ago were the most in any game under Kelly. The 58 they gained the previous two weeks are the most of any two-week stretch under Kelly.
To recap: The Eagles have won two games in a row and three of four. Their last two games have been their two most productive in terms of points, yards and first downs, and they have thrown for more yards over the course of those two games than any other two games this season.
When Bradford hasn't been throwing interceptions, he has been presiding over an offense that has looked pretty darn good as of late. The goal isn't to minimize the interceptions, but to isolate them. If the guy went, say, 11-for-30 for 141 yards with four interceptions, that would be one thing. But he has completed 67.5 percent of his passes, while averaging 7.4 yards per attempt the last two weeks. He threw 14 incompletions against the Giants, including two throwaways, one clock spike and one drop.
Interceptions matter, but they happen. In his career, Bradford has been picked off on 2.4 percent of his pass attempts, which is a solid number (Tom Brady: 2.0 percent). Sanchez, by comparison, has been picked off on 3.7 percent of his career attempts. This season, Bradford has been picked off on 3.9 percent of his throws.
Those numbers suggest: 1) Bradford's last six games are not indicative of his 49 prior, and, 2) even if they were, the only thing you'd change by starting Sanchez would be the name of the guy throwing the interceptions.
The one thing you should note about Bradford's picks is that they do not suggest he isn't seeing the field. He isn't staring down receivers or failing to spot lurking defenders. His two picks against the Saints were good reads, but poor throws. Same goes for his first interception against the Giants. The second one was a poor decision, regardless of the fact that Riley Cooper ran a curl when Bradford thought he was going to run a fly: Cooper curled because he had a safety over top, and that safety ended up making a play on the ball, which he would have been in position to do even if Cooper had been there.
I heard people say he underthrew his third interception, the one in the end zone, but it looked more as if he threw a jump ball. If he did underthrow it, then it was a poor decision to throw it at all, given that a safety was flying over top of Zach Ertz. Whatever the case, you understand what Bradford was thinking and seeing on most of his turnovers, and that makes them correctible: Yo, Sam, when you see what you saw, don't do what you did.
Let's maintain some semblance of perspective. The guy just played his sixth game of football in nearly two years.
The year Eli Manning won his first Super Bowl, he threw eight interceptions in his first six games. His career numbers at the end of that year: 57 games, 54.7 completion percentage, 3.5 interception percentage, 6.3 yards per attempt, 199.7 yards per game, 73.4 quarterback rating.
Bradford just played in his 55th career game. His career numbers: 59.2 completion percentage, 2.4 interception percentage, 6.4 yards per attempt, 229.6 yards per game, 79.4 QB rating.
Say what you will about numbers, but they at least tell us something concrete, which is more than I can say for anybody who suggests Bradford belongs on the bench.
On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy