clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chip Kelly has full confidence in Sam Bradford as the Eagles' starting quarterback

So that makes at least one person.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Sam Bradford is not playing well. The 27-year-old Eagles quarterback is tied for having thrown the second most interceptions in the NFL with nine. Bradford ranks 21st in completion percentage. He ranks 22nd in yards per attempt. He ranks tied for 27th in passer rating. Despite his struggles, Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly says he remains confident in the team's quarterback.

"Sam is our quarterback," Kelly said during his Monday afternoon press conference. "So we have full confidence in Sam.

Bradford is currently on pace to throw 24 interceptions this season, assuming he makes it through all 16 games. The former No. 1 overall pick has never thrown more than 15 interceptions in a single season, which is the amount he threw as a rookie in 2010.

Kelly said one of the reasons the Eagles acquired Bradford in a trade with the St. Louis Rams was due to the quarterback's ability to take care of the football. Kelly also said he believes Bradford can cut down the turnovers as the season progresses. So what's been the issue to this point?

"That's a great question," Kelly said. "There's not one thing. I think, at times, it's the rush will break down, so now he has to move his feet. We did have some inconsistency and some wrong routes run the other night, so that kind of puts him in a situation he's expecting the receiver to be here and he's not there anymore."

"So we had a couple communication issues. Some guys moving around a little bit. There was a little bit of shuffle there when [Josh] Huff went down for a little bit, [Riley Cooper] is down for a little bit and we are jockeying the receivers around a little bit. But, that's not an excuse, that is just those are things we need to continue to work on as a group to get everybody on the same page."

The Eagles are going nowhere fast if Bradford continues to play so poorly. The team might be able to win some games due to their strong defense, but they are far from being legitimate championship contenders with such terrible quarterback play.

Here are some more highlights from Kelly's press conference.

Eagles secondary making progress

I think they are growing as a group. I think early when you get a group together and they are just worried about their job and then what they -- I got this and that's all I do. Now it's kind of looking at the overall picture and where do they fit into the overall concept of what's going on back there. I think there's a better understanding. We've got two really intelligent safeties that get everybody lined up in [S] Malcolm [Jenkins] and [DB] Walter [Thurmond] and that really helps.

And then a guy that I don't think gets enough credit, [CB] E.J. Biggers, who has done a really nice job for us. He's a real, real smart football player and allows Billy [Bill Davis] to do some different things, call-wise, because E.J. can handle it call-wise. To get those five guys on the field, there's some continuity going on with those guys. The ability from Malcolm and Walter to both play down and back; it's not a, "Hey, this guy has always got to get over here." [It’s] Kind of how the formation comes out and expresses itself, they can handle that. Really, that's what happened on the first drive, they came out on in two tight ends the entire drive, but they ran a lot of slot sets with the tight ends on one side and the receivers on the other, which they had not shown. So just took a little bit of tweaking and adjustment to get adjusted to it, and then once they did that, I think they were good after that.

Confidence in Bill Davis as defensive coordinator

I think it is improved personnel, but I also think there's also a comfort level with the players in the system. [LB] Brandon [Graham] is here for three years, [LB] Connor [Barwin] is here for three years. That front seven, basically, with the exception of Jordan Hicks, has been here for a while.

And the fact that you have a player like Malcolm that's held the back end together, and now Walt [Walter Thurmond], Nolan, Max [Byron Maxwell], Biggs [E.J. Biggers] and Chris have started to all kind of form a group back there in the secondary has really helped. But I think the one thing that Billy has benefitted is that continuity we have up front because you've had the same D-Line with both those outside linebackers played a ton of snaps for us. Really the only addition at the inside linebacker is Jordan Hicks who again, has really kind of exceeded some people's expectations, not ours, but in terms of what he could handle as a rookie. He kind of got thrust into the role because of the injuries, but when you have some continuity from that standpoint, those guys understand the system to the point where they can make tweaks, they can make adjustments. When the offense presents something to you, when Billy, Cory or Azz [defensive line/assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro], or one of those guys is talking about the adjustment, those guys are finishing their sentence to the adjustment, not going, ‘Hey, they did this, what do we do?’ They already understand what the counter is to it.

So I think what Billy is really benefitting from is that that whole group has a good continuity, and as the back end gets together with more experience, I really see that group coming together.

Strong depth at inside linebacker

We always felt like we did. It was just, and I said it when we made the cuts down to 53, that was the hardest cut for us. That's why it took the longest, we were trying to figure out a way to keep Najee because we believe he's a National Football League player; I think he's shown he's a National Football League player.

So when we had the opportunity, we had to make the move. When we were a little banged up, we were just fortunate that -- I don't why he wasn't picked up, but thank God he wasn't. But we have got total confidence in Naj that he can go in there and play. And he has and he's done it for a couple years here now.

So it's a blessing, to be honest with you, that we have that depth at inside linebacker. But, we also felt a year ago when we lost [LB] Mychal [Kendricks] for three or four games with the calf and then [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] for the season, that we had to increase our depth at the inside linebacker spot because we felt like we were caught short the year before. Hopefully we get Mychal back here, get [LB] Kiko [Alonso] coming back up here and then we have Najee. We feel confident that we have five guys in there that can play quality football for us.

Why the offensive line has improved

Again, our offensive line is executing. We have not changed any schemes; we are doing the same things we have always done. But, I think our offensive line is starting to come together and gel and they are executing and really getting good push at the point of attack.

Chris Maragos as the team's nickel safety

Chris did a really nice job. He's fitting in there, giving us different looks in the safety. It's the ability to now drop Walter and/or Malcolm down. But, you have to have another safety to be able to do that. So there's some good -- there are some different things we are doing, whether Biggs [E.J. Biggers] is in the game or Chris is in the game, that allows us to move Malcolm and Walt because of how Chris is playing there.

Looking ahead to the Panthers game

We've looked at them extensively. That's the one thing, when you play an extra day, we were in all day yesterday watching Carolina like we normally do on a Monday, but you still have to go play the Giants. They are the same team, but they are -- I know I say it, and people -- they are executing.

I think [Panther QB] Cam [Newton] is playing at a really high level right now. [RB] Jonathan Stewart has been healthy; he's just a horse inside, so you have a great running attack. You've got quarterback run that we haven't seen this year that we really have to start to kind of hone in on because Cam is going to carry the ball.

I think they lead the NFL in rushing attempts per game because not only do you have the running back, you have the quarterback, and Cam is throwing at a really high level. They have lost some wide outs, they lost [WR Kelvin] Benjamin for the year. But [they] probably have one of the premiere tight ends in [Greg] Olsen right now, who had a huge game against Seattle last week and can cause some problems from a matchup standpoint as a tight end.

Defensively, it starts with their two linebackers, who it is the best pair we'll play in [Luke] Kuechly and [Thomas] Davis because they can run sideline to sideline. They don't come off the field and don't have to come off the field in nickel because they are both three-down linebackers and they are doing a really nice job in all three phases. There's a reason they are undefeated, and you can tell in terms of how they are playing right now.

Success of punt coverage unit

Our guys covering? I think the group, you have to begin with, we've got some guys that have a great want to -- I think our gunners are doing a really, really good job of forcing the issue to a point where if they are asked to be doubled, in which you have to do when you get a really good gunner and that means the guys on the inside have to do a good job. And when you have some wily veterans like [LB Bryan] Braman and [S Chris] Maragos and those guys in there -- I think Coop [WR Riley Cooper] and [S Jerome] Couplin are doing a good job at the wings for us; those are two new guys that we didn't have that used to be [former Eagle and current RB for the Houston Texans] Chris Polk and [former Eagle] Brad Smith. But I think both of those guys are doing a great job. [TE] Trey Burton is in his second year and has a real good feel for it and Najee is an outstanding special teams player.

So I think we have some guys that embrace the role of being on teams. But I also think that because of how well our gunners are playing that all of a sudden when they have to go double them, then the inside guys are making up the difference for us -- and [P] Donnie [Jones] is doing a really good job of directional punting, keeping it away from the returner at certain times and we are changing up how we are doing it. It's not always a directional kick, sometimes he's kicking away and sometimes he's trying to change up the kick.

So I think because we are varied and because Donnie can do that -- not a lot of people can. I think that's what happens with Darren right now. You watch the Saints and the Giants, people try to kick away from him, but all of a sudden it changes the kick and we are gaining a lot. You mentioned it last week about the Saints, tried to kick away from Darren and when they did, that's what their punter wasn't real comfortable doing. Therefore, we are gaining yards just because of the kick itself.

It's probably a lot harder than people think, and that's why what Donnie is doing has really been very beneficial to us because he's been able to change it up. But, we haven't had any of those missed kicks in those situations.