|Less lovable by the day|
Sam Bradford went first overall out of Oklahoma, and when he was drafted, many thought he was going to be a star. He's 6'4", ran the 40 in just under 4.8, and could make every throw, at every tempo. His pro day performance was legendary, and locked down his consensus draft status.
Bradford is two inches taller than Rodgers... but you'd never know it by looking at them. Bradford is four years younger than Rodgers, but looks remarkably closer to the end of his career at any moment. Bradford's 40-yard time is the same as Rodgers, but Rodgers buys time in the pocket with uncanny awareness, and I wouldn't trust Bradford to be aware of an oncoming forest fire. Bradford went first in his draft, while Rodgers went 24th. (Maybe Bradford's year was just terrible for QBs: the next five taken were Tim Tebow, Jimmy Claussen, Colt McCoy, Mike Kafka and John Skelton. Honestly, the third-best QB from the 2010 draft might have been Joe Webb.)
All throughout the preseason, the Eagles were over the moon on what they had with Bradford. The accuracy, we were told. They just needed to keep him healthy, which isn't exactly a reason to release both guards while drafting no one, and signing no free agents, but so be it. Every prediction about the Eagles season was entirely based under one basic point: if Bradford took all of the snaps of importance, the Eagles would be better than last year's Sanchizy mess.
Well, we're through three games of what looks to be a pretty miserable slog. The season's not over, because Darren Sproles willed it not to be, the division is terrible, and .500 might win it. If you can play your best football later in the year, that should be enough.
But with the exception of one half of football against an Atlanta team that was playing some inexplicable version of prevent without a pass rush, Bradford has looked as bad as any Eagle QB in recent memory.
He is, to put it bluntly, so tentative and telegraphing as to be borderline unwatchable. He stays with his first read way too long, especially on anything that looks like it's going short (screens), and seems like he lives in mortal fear of taking contact. He never challenges the defense deep, even on a throwaway to just put the fear of bomb or long DPI into a defense. There is absolutely no threat of him running the ball, and the instances in which the offense catches the defense in Tempo Hell are dramatically lower than even when Sanchez was below center. The Eagles won last week, with some praising Bradford with the faintest of praise by noting the lack of INTs, but it seemed more luck than skill.
I get that his best WR (Matthews) is just a slot guy, that the change from Jeremy Maclin to Nelson Agholor is anything but an even swap, that this offense has never been the same since Nero Kelly aborted DeSean Jackson for no good reason, and that Riley Cooper, Miles Austin and Josh Huff barely belong on an NFL roster. All of which was said about Bradford's teammates in St. Louis, all of which is never said about any QB of merit. Donovan McNabb went to NFC championship games with Todd Pinkston as his top WR. The Rams looked better without Bradford, and in the Eagles last year looked better without him, too.
A final word about this: no one in this town with an inkling of sense wants to see any more of Sanchez, as anything more than a kick in the ass to Bradford. Everyone knows what the team has there; a guy that can win games against terrible teams, and move the team against mediocre defenses, but who is an absolute turnover machine against anything more than that. Sanchez, another high draft pick turned unwatchable bust, is what he is. At least with Bradford, there is still the tiniest inkling of hope that he just needs to shake off the rust, learn the system, get further away from the knee injuries.
But with every snap, with every series, with every plodding execution of the smallest number of plays ever seen in a QB1 playbook, all of that melts away, drip by drip.
In a year filled with reasons to feel bad about watching football, Bradford might be the biggest.
At least no one's talking about how vital it is for him to stay healthy any more.