Ea­gles want fans to bring the noise

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

The Ea­gles spent this past week prais­ing Sam Brad­ford, who was sched­uled to be their start­ing quar­ter­back this sea­son.

Now they need to bury him. Fig­u­ra­tively, of course.

To do that, the Ea­gles are ask­ing for a lit­tle help from their fans Sun­day when they op­pose Brad­ford and the Min­nesota Vik­ings at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field (1 p.m., Chan­nel 29, WIP 94.1-FM).

The louder the Linc gets, the harder it will be on Brad­ford and the of­fense that could be a bit rusty re­turn­ing from its bye week.

“Hope­fully we’ll come with our ‘A’ game,” Ea­gles vet­eran safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins said, “and the fans will come with theirs.”

The Vik­ings (5-0) are the last

un­de­feated team in the NFL, largely be­cause Brad­ford stepped up as their quar­ter­back.

The Ea­gles and Car­son Wentz, who be­came the start­ing quar­ter­back

when Brad­ford was dealt the week be­fore the opener, have lost two in a row af­ter win­ning their first three starts.

The of­fen­sive line has a hole on the right side as rookie Hal Vaitai be­gan learn­ing on the job last week in place of Lane Johnson, who was sus­pended 10 games for us­ing PEDs.

Wentz was sacked five times in a 27-20 loss to the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, a game in which the Ea­gles also were slammed with 230 rush­ing yards.

In short, the Ea­gles haven’t brought the “A” game Jenk­ins spoke of since coming back from their bye. In con­sec­u­tive losses they’ve turned into an undis­ci­plined group, rack­ing up 27 penal­ties.

Fletcher Cox, the de­fen­sive player of the month for Septem­ber, has be­come an Ndamukong Suhtype head­hunter in Oc­to­ber.

Cox has been flagged and fined by the NFL for per­sonal fouls on quar­ter­backs in con­sec­u­tive weeks that ex­tended touch­down drives and, by Cox’s count, given the op­po­si­tion eight points.

While the Ea­gles were beaten by a to­tal of eight

points in those de­feats, Cox’s mis­sion is the same: hit the quar­ter­back… not in the head, though.

The same goes for the de­fen­sive line that was badly out­played last week, a unit un­able to sack Kirk Cousins once.

“We’ve got to come out and be more phys­i­cal,” Cox said. “We’ve got to set the tone.”

Brad­ford has been ex­cep­tional as a pure pocket passer de­spite learn­ing the of­fense on the fly. He’s com­pleted a leaguebest 70.4 per­cent of his at­tempts with no in­ter­cep­tions. He ranks sec­ond over­all with a 109.8 passer rat­ing.

With the Ea­gles, Brad­ford al­ways wore that nos­trike red jersey at prac­tice. This Sun­day he’s a live tar­get.

“It’s go­ing to be fun,” Ea­gles pass rusher Bran­don Gra­ham said. “It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be fun if we get af­ter him a lit­tle bit. But we’ve got to make sure we get there. He gets rid of it fast. We’ve got to go out there and keep hit­ting him, make sure we hit him hard, and stop that run. We’ve got to win in all three phases be­cause they’re pretty good.

“If we don’t, it’s go­ing to be a long day.”

Brad­ford, de­spite sign­ing a two-year, $36 mil­lion con­tract, felt un­com­fort­able the mo­ment the Ea­gles traded up for the sec­ond over­all pick in the draft, and an­nounced they would se­lect a quar­ter­back. Frus­trated, he bowed out of vol­un­tary prac­tices and asked the Ea­gles to trade him. There weren’t any tak­ers.

When Vik­ings starter Teddy Bridge­wa­ter suf­fered a grue­some knee in­jury the week be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son be­gan, Min­nesota foot­ball op­er­a­tions chief Rick Spiel­man sent a first-round pick in 2017 and a con­di­tional fourth-rounder in 2018 to the Ea­gles for Brad­ford. Vik­ings tight ends coach Pat Shur­mur as­sured Spiel­man that Brad­ford was worth it. It’s tough to ar­gue the point. And it’s un­de­ni­able how much Brad­ford feels wanted.

“We have a lot of tal­ent across the board,” Brad­ford said. “I think from the mo­ment I got here, ev­ery­one’s had my back. They’ve been very sup­port­ive. They all stayed af­ter to throw with me, to help me un­der­stand con­cepts. Ev­ery­one has of­fered a help­ing hand in this process early. So it’s re­ally been nice know­ing that the guys in this locker room have had my back since day one.”

The Vik­ings have had Brad­ford’s back.

The Ea­gles need to put him on his back.

ANDY CLAY­TON-KING — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tight end Kyle Ru­dolph, left, cel­e­brates with quar­ter­back Sam Brad­ford af­ter catch­ing an 8-yard touch­down against the Green Bay Pack­ers on Sept. 18. Brad­ford re­turns to Philadel­phia to­day to face the Ea­gles.

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