By Michael Donovan
Very few NFL analysts are as diligent and thorough as Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network, who spends countless hours going over the coaches’ tape of games and can pick out wrinkles few other analysts can.
And even Baldy, who played for the Eagles and other teams in the NFL for more than a decade, can’t figure out exactly what Eagle QB Sam Bradford’s problem is.
“I don’t know … When you watch him, I don’t know how much longer you can put up with it,” Baldinger said this morning on 97.5 FM The Fanatic. “It’s a combination of a lot of things.
“The ball is a bar of gold int he NFL. You have to take care of the football. Chip Kelly has never had a quarterback, the quarterback’s never thrown 10 interceptions in a season. That may happen Sunday. That’s just the interceptions.
“Whether it’s Jason Kelce snapping it when Bradford isn’t ready. Whether it’s DeMarco Murray and Bradford quarterback exchange issue. It’s ridiculous. They’re going to lead the league in turnovers for the seocnd year in a row at this rate. It’s absolutely alarming at this point. It’s ridiculous.”
On Bradford’s nine interceptions:
“With Bradford, that second interception to Zach Ertz,” Baldinger said. “I mean, he’s on an over-route. He’s there and Sam sailed the ball. He can’t hit what he’s looking at right now.
“He’s not throwing the ball into the bulls-eye. That’s what this league is about. It’s just careless all the way around. He’s just not a pinpoint thrower, which is what everyone built him up to be before he was drafted and when he was in St. Louis. He just isn’t that guy, right now.”
On Tuesday morning Kelly admitted that Bradford’s interceptions run counter to what he expected to get from his quarterback after sending Nick Foles and second-round draft choice to the St. Louis Rams for him this offseason. According to Baldinger, Kelly has already taken a proactive approach to trying to resolve these issues.
“They are evolving the offense to cater to Sam Bradford,” Baldinger said. “Against New Orleans, Sam Bradford was underneath center 17 times. When Bradford was under center, they ran it 17 times. So, what do they do? The first time he goes underneath center on Monday night, they play-action pass a touchdown to Riley Cooper. So, it’s evolving right now.
“It’s not even close to anything Chip Kelly ever ran at Oregon. I give Chip credit here, he’s changing the offense to fit Sam Bradford. You can’t really cater an offense to a player any more than what they have done for Sam Bradford. He is not a run-threat in any aspect of this offense. That has always been the case in this offense going all the way back to Michael Vick, to Nick Foles, to Mark Sanchez. It’s always been a part. Clearly, ever since that hit by Terrell Suggs, it is no part of this offense. It is a hindrance to this offense.”
Baldinger says he isn’t ready to pull the plug and hand the reins over to backup Mark Sanchez.
“The one thing about Mark is over his six years of playing in this league, he is the working definition of average,” Baldinger said. “He has basically the same number of touchdowns as interceptions, and he puts the ball on the ground at a rate that isn’t a winning rate. So we’ve seen what he is. Do you change just for the sake of chaging? Just to see if he can protect the football better? I wouldn’t make the change right now.
“But, does Sam Bradford at this point ever look confident to you? I don’t know if that’s just his look? But does he ever look like he’s having a great time out there? Does he ever look like he has the answers to the test before the snap every play? It doesn’t look like it. We have never seen that guy look fully confident yet, in the six games that we’ve seen him play.”