Eagles want fans to bring the noise
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.
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.