Does Sam Bradford Need Contacts?

Say yes to the first down, Sam.

Sam Bradford had a pretty good game against Miami before he got injured. But looking at the coaches’ tape emphasizes how skewed he was in favor of short passes. The three big catch-and-runs to Brent Celek hid this fact statistically, but Bradford left a lot of meat on the bone with his reluctance to throw long. Either he just hates to throw long, or he literally can’t see receivers more than 8 yards away. Let’s chip in to get the man an eye exam.

This was a big factor when things started to sour in the second quarter. Just after the two minute warning, Sam threw short of the sticks on 3rd and five — which takes some effort — but Huff fought through three defenders to get the first down anyway.

Then, after a run was stuffed, it was 2nd and 14. Bradford threw to Sproles just over the line of scrimmage, even though he had Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews five yards down field, crossing each other on mesh routes, wide open. Yes, Sproles is good in the open field, but on this play he was flat-footed and facing the backfield, while Agholor and Matthews (if hit in stride) were in much better position to run past nearby defenders for a big gain.

Sproles in the flat? Why?
Sproles in the flat? Why?

Even if they were tackled immediately, they would have had five more yards than Sproles got. No matter how short the passes available to him are, Bradford seems more comfortable throwing shorter yet.

The following play was 3rd and 12. (See the photo at the top of this post.) Cooper came wide open running an out from the seam, safely past the sticks. Sam threw instead to Ertz, with two men on him, six yards short of a first down. (He also threw behind him, resulting in an incompletion and a punt.)

When a short catch-and-run might have been a good choice, Bradford still picked the wrong one. On the play right before the blocked punt, facing 3rd and 14, he didn’t wait quite long enough for the stick route by Huff to develop, out near the first down marker. Instead, he threw at Ryan Mathews in the flat, 12 yards short of the promised land.

Checkdown to Mathews; Ertz was wide open, Huff had a stick route
Checkdown to Mathews; Ertz was wide open, Huff had a stick route

OK, I don’t have to face Ndamukong Suh racing in to flatten me. I get that. But there were two check down receivers wide open on the play– Mathews running toward the left sideline and Zach Ertz mid-field. Sam threw to (and way behind) Mathews, who spun counter-clockwise to get his hands on it but couldn’t hang on. But even if he had pulled it in, or Bradford had hit him in stride, the odds of getting the first down were very slim. All the closing CB had to do was push him out of bounds, with Mathews’ own momentum helping.

Ertz was on the right hash mark with room to run, and Eagles tight ends already had 120 yards on three tight end crosses at that point in the game. I still think the longer pass to Huff was the better choice, despite a tighter window, but hitting Ertz in stride was the only way a short pass was going to pick up this first down.

Sam Bradford was generally pretty good Sunday (19-25 for 236 yards, 1 TD), and I haven’t given up on him yet as a quarterback. He has even shown he can go long, in the Washington game. But he defaults to ultra-short, and the Eagles’ coaches need to correct this tendency. Bradford now has a couple of weeks to study film all day and get on top of this. If he doesn’t, I’ll join everyone else in concluding he has no upside worth exploring.

UPDATE: Some commenters argued that the first picture was taken after the ball was thrown and reflected the DBs moving to the ball. OK, here’s an earlier still taken as the ball was thrown. That cornerback (McCain) was not in any position to contest a sideline pass to Cooper. He was flat-footed and never dropped below the 36, while Cooper was in stride crossing the 30 and headed downfield. The other CB, Jamar Taylor, actually would have been in a better position to make a play but he was plastered to Miles Austin and going the other direction full speed.

Mathews INC as Bradford threw; McCain flat-footed at the 36
Mathews INC as Bradford threw; McCain flat-footed at the 36
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22 Responses

  1. Hilarious!!! I love how you said “does Bradford need contacts “?!!!
    Lol , like he’s blind!!! Lol he can’t see the open receivers!!! Lol

  2. Mark, while you were giving handjobs at Dave Matthews concerts, I was playing actual football. He is “favoring” the short pass because it’s a much higher percentage throw, AND… Chips receivers are taught to block down field to increase the chance of breaking short throws into big gains. Idiot.

    1. Mark’s jokes are Too much. Mark What would you say if Bill Cosby offered you a drink? I’d say Don’t drink the water. Unless of course it came from a Blue water baboon farm. Mark always has So much to say in these articles! So damn lucky this wasn’t written by Jim, when he writes it’s like he’s Under the table and dreaming.

  3. it’s not his fault he can’t read a defense.
    he goes with what he’s told to do like the demarco murray swing pass where as soon as the ball is snapped everyone including the blind kid singing the national anthem knows murray is getting the ball.

  4. These pictures and this “analysis” is pathetic. The throw has long been released in that first picture…of course the defenders are going to move to where the ball is headed. Bradford is bad but you do realize that the position of the d-linemen impacts the vision and throwing lanes of the quarterback. Also, there’s a system of progressions on each play…it’s very difficult for any quarterback to see every receiver during those 2-3 seconds. You spent way too much time on something you’re not qualified to write about.

  5. These pics don’t show what you think they show.

    You do know the defenders move once the QB starts to throw?! They may even break off coverage of a player who is not getting the ball.

    First pic: The YES guy isn’t open, he became ‘open’ after the defenders moved forward out of their zones to react to the throw.

    2nd pic would be an interception if he threw to who you think he should throw to.

    On the 3rd pic one of the guys you circled are double-covered, the other is standing on the line of scrimmage.

    Are you retarded?

    1. First pic: You’re just wrong. I added a screen shot as Bradford threw, up aboveat the end of the article.. No defender is in a position to make a play on a sideline pass to Cooper.

      Second pic: No one’s in a position to make an interception unless the WR drops it, which granted is a real possibility. To answer a different comment, it’s not a hospital pass in stride, but anything over the middle is if you throw it up high.

      3rd pic: Huff had space on the stick route, but as I wrote it is a tight window. Yes, the wide open tight end is on the line of scrimmage, mid-field, with plenty of room to run after the Dolphins had already given up 120 yards to Celek on other crosses over the middle. Bradford threw to another guy on the line of scrimmage, cut off by the sideline and his momentum from gaining YAC.

  6. Sam Bradford needs contacts! As proof, just look at these blue circles of receivers who are double-covered or have defenders that nearby ready to jump the route. Spot on analysis.

  7. Photo 1- Ball is already almost at the receiver and CB already came off deeper patter to commit, hence him leaning forward
    Photo 2- Both crossing routes were well covered and Sproles had room to work with. Get it to a playmaker in space.
    Photo 3- He needs contacts/anticipate.

  8. One of the reasons I’ve started to dislike football is posts like this one by Mark. Everyone now thinks they’re an expert in football because they watch a lot of games. Dude stay in your lane and let the real analysts do the work. It’s annoying how people who don’t know what it’s like to have nfl players coming a them full speed think it’s that easy or they “need contacts”.

  9. Allow me to actually analyze the second picture:

    A) You should never throw to a crossing route in zone coverage. See: Jordan Matthews almost die at the end of thr game.

    B) There is a deep crossing route/hook being ran by the receiver at the top of the screen. Before Sammy shat himself and dumped it off, he should have waited a split second and then led that receiver to the soft spot in the zone behind the LB. Thats the hook/curl zone that is often a weakness in this coverage. First down.

    C) Harvard sucks and so do you, Mark.

  10. What they^^^ said…but, i can’t resist….please stop “breaking down” film!Your comments on the first pic are just plain awful. If he throws to your “Yes!” receiver the defender on the 35 (who is breaking forward because the ball was THROWN!) would have stepped back for an easy interception.

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