Sam Bradford is perhaps the biggest question mark on the Philadelphia Eagles this season. The overall success of the team is arguably on Bradford more than any other player. And usually, having a question mark at the QB position isn’t a good sign. Last year, Bradford was nearly flawless in his pre-season performances. His play led to people claiming this was the Eagles year; Chip Kelly finally had his QB and the Eagles were Super Bowl bound. And then everything flamed out. Sam Bradford struggled heavily early in the season and the Eagles finished a measly 7-9, somehow good for second place in the NFC East. This year the story line is a bit different. Bradford hasn’t been perfect so far, and even though the Eagles stand at 3-0, it’s so much easier to see where Bradford is doing well and where he’s struggling. Rather then being a cause for concern, this is probably what Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff wanted, and needed to see.
So much has been made about Bradford’s last seven games of the 2015 season. With Bradford fans trying to convince the naysayers that his final games showed that he was the QB the Eagles needed, and those who still doubted him pointing out that even in his last seven games, he was still just totally average. All this arguing made people miss the main point in all of this; Bradford was improving in every game and that’s all you can ask for from a QB. He was limiting his turnovers, throwing down field more, and working to extend drives despite a totally lack luster offense and offensive scheme. All this lead to the Eagles giving him an extension, albeit a strange one, and making him the starting QB for the 2016 season despite trading up for, and drafting Carson Wentz.
This pre-season has been a somewhat different story. The Eagles started off 3-0, the cornerback group is filled with questions, the defensive line is dominating… all like last year. The difference however, is Bradford. There’s no denying that Bradford has looked goof so far. In his one drive against the Buccaneers he threw one completion, and handed the ball of seamlessly to Ryan Mathews twice, leading to an easy touchdown. He was 14-19 (74%), and while he didn’t throw a touchdown, he also didn’t throw an interception against the Steelers. Finally, against the Colts, the pre-season game most like a regular season one, Sam Bradford excelled. He was 17-20 (85%), he moved the ball very well, made smart reads, and threw two touchdowns. His sole interception of the pre-season wasn’t even his fault, a good throw tipped by Nelson Agholor.
The most important thing to take from all this is that Bradford is picking up where he left off. Despite a new coaching and system, Bradford has continued to to improve. He’s allowed coaches to see his weaknesses and help him improve, and he’s got chemistry with his teammates. Last season, he was the most accurate QB under pressure according to Pro Football Focus, and he’s kept that stat through this pre-season. He hasn’t been perfect this pre-season, but in the whole scheme if things, that’s probably a good thing.