Bradham watches much of first half as rotation
Nigel Bradham watched much of the first half Sunday from the bench. But coaches say it had nothing to do with his recent run-ins with the law.
DETROIT >> When all was said and done Sunday, Nigel Bradham deserved to be carried off the field by the Eagles’ defense, not coordinator Jim Schwartz.
It was Schwartz who basically spotted the Lions the first half before admitting what a mess he’d created essentially by replacing Bradham with a linebacker scheme using Stephen Tulloch and Mychal Kendricks in tandem.
That bumped Bradham and Jordan Hicks, the team’s second-best linebacker, out of the nickel in the first half and opened up lanes for Matthew Stafford, who tormented the Eagles with three touchdown passes in a 24-23 win over the Birds.
What was that Schwartz said you get labeled if you keep doing the same things over and over?
After the game Eagles head coach Doug Pederson defended Schwartz, the exLions head coach who was carried off the field by his Bills players after beating Detroit here two years ago.
“It’s early in the football game, you know,” Pederson said. “There are a lot of things that were happening and by design, by game plan, that’s the way we went about our business.”
Here’s the way the Eagles went about their business Sunday:
After allowing 21 points, 199 yards and 17 first downs in the first half, they limited the Lions to 3 points, 45 yards and four first downs in the second half. Almost forgot, the Eagles hadn’t allowed a TD pass until Sunday.
Bradham and Hicks had five tackles apiece, tied for third among other Eagles. Bradham was your basic one-man wrecking crew, blowing up Lions first downs with three tackles for loss, all in the second half.
It wasn’t a coincidence the defense played more like the unit that showed up in the first three games when Bradham, who also recovered a Stafford fumble, played regularly. The screens and sweeps the Lions gashed Schwartz with in the first half disappeared.
“I feel like we played our style of football in the second half,” Bradham said. “We can’t come out flat, and I feel like that’s what happened. Today we came out flat, we were penalized way too much which is uncharacteristic of us, especially as a defense. I mean we’ve just got to keep fighting man, come back next week ready for the Redskins. It’s our first division game and we have to be ready.”
There was confusion over which Eagle was responsible for a 27-yard catch late in the game by Golden Tate, which set up the winning field goal for the Lions. Bradham was seen chasing after Tate.
“We were in man coverage and we kind of dealt with the back between the linebackers but the back went across the field so I just dropped back,” said Bradham, who’d been defending Theo Riddick. “And I saw (Tate) late. I wish I had seen him a little sooner. And I just tried to do the best I could at that time.”
The Eagle cornerback in the vicinity was Jalen Mills. Tate was wide open. It was one of three receptions he had worth 39 yards.
Tulloch has played for Schwartz during three NFL stops, including Detroit. He was cut by the Lions over the offseason.
Bradham didn’t make a scene about his limited snaps in the first half.
“Going into the game I was told, the coaches told me they wanted me to try to follow a rotation,” Bradham said. “Like, they were already doing with Jordan.”
*** If you weren’t a big fan of Ryan Mathews and his injuries before the game, you’ll want to see him benched after this display.
With the Eagles in thirdand-two at their 45-yard line, driving down the field to at least a two-field goal lead, Mathews got the ball on a handoff off right tackle.
Cornerback Darius Slay slammed into Mathews from the front, offensive tackle Lane Johnson from the side, and the ball popped out to Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker at the 41 of the Birds.
The play happened in front of the Lions’ bench where head coach Jim Caldwell excitedly jumped into the air while giving the change of position call with his right hand.
The recovery was upheld after the mandatory replay review following turnovers. Stafford marched the Lions to the winning field goal.
“I think I stuck him pretty good,” said Slay, who later sealed the win with an interception of Carson Wentz. “We saw that he was going to carry the ball out wide and we knew he was going to fumble once in a while, so I just made a play.”
Mathews had 11 rushes for 42 yards, Darren Sproles five for 45.
In hindsight, Pederson might have decided against pitching the ball to go wide although he added “We didn’t execute properly.”
*** Johnson expects a decision Wednesday or Thursday on his appeal of a 10game suspension after testing positive for PEDs.
Johnson told reporters the hearing with an outside arbitrator lasted eight hours.
The Eagles decided against activating rookie right tackle Hal Vaitai, as they stuck with the usual contingent of offensive linemen.
Defensive tackle Bennie Logan dressed and recorded a sack. Logan sustained a calf spasm and was listed questionable on the injury report.
Vaitai is an option to step in at right tackle if Johnson loses his appeal.
*** Wentz passed for 238 yards, giving him 1,007 passing yards on the season and moving him past Donovan McNabb, who was fifth on the all-time Eagles rookie passing list.
Went also threw two TDs, giving him second on the season, one less than McNabb’s rookie record for the franchise.
The 25 completions were a career-best for Wentz.
Wentz’s streak of passes without an interception ended at 134. That’s the third-longest skein for a rookie to start a season, trailing only Tom Brady (162 attempts) and Dak Prescott (155 and counting).
“The biggest thing is we just shot ourselves in the foot a couple too many times,” Wentz said. “Some of the holding plays, some of those happen. But some of those delays of games and some of those mistakes that we can control ourselves we’ve got to just clean up. Those are things you want to have back.
And the Lions, they played great. They came out and beat us.”
Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham, left, watched a lot of the first half from the bench during an experiment with rotating linebackers. Here, Bradham helps out as Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is tackled by Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, right, during the first half Sunday.