Sam Bradford has no excuses

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There is no curve for Sam Bradford.

There cannot be.

Your quarterback cannot occupy nearly 10 percent of your salary cap and play as if he's a 1-percenter.

You cannot trade a serviceable, young quarterback like Nick Foles, plus a second-round pick, for a player who needs to knock the rust off.

This is for better, and for worse.

This neither assumes incompetence nor precludes excellence.

Whatever he does, Bradford must be judged on his own merit, not the merit of his weapons or his protection or his coaches.

He cannot be excused, because his receivers drop passes at an alarming rate; at least six at Carolina on Sunday night; seven, if you detest Jordan Matthews.

So what?

Once the ball is snapped, Bradford makes the decisions.

He throws the passes.

The Eagles are 3-4, and they reflected the play of their most important player.

"Inconsistency is the word that comes to mind," Bradford said afterward. "There's a various assortment of self-inflicted wounds. We're killing ourselves."

This is a team in desperate need of inspiration.

It isn't coming from No. 7.

He was 26-for-46 for 205 yards and an interception Sunday night. He was snakebitten by the drops and occasionally poor protection. At times he was even good; but mostly he was . . . ordinary.

At $13 million, ordinary doesn't cut it.

He threw behind one receiver; held on way too long on a sack and one-hopped a third-down throw in the fourth quarter, when his $13 million salary is supposed to be earned.

Heading into the bye week seven games into his first season as an Eagle, Bradford, who replaced Nick Foles, has thrown high and low and late and, 10 times, into the arms of the opposition. Four times, the opposition was in its own end zone.

Only one other passer has as many interceptions: Peyton Manning.

The big difference: Manning is 6-0.

No team drops more passes per attempt than the Rams, quarterbacked by Foles, who is 3-3 . . . with five interceptions.

Bradford's interception in the first quarter was thrown at Jordan Matthews, whose drops have made him this season's punching bag, but who also leads the team with 39 catches.

It was thrown at Matthews, not to him, so badly was it delivered. The ball was delivered late, a full step behind Matthews' left hip, who was crossing the field to the right. That he got his hands on it was remarkable, and unfortunate. The deflection allowed Colin Jones to intercept it.

"I think Sam's played great the entire season," Matthews said. "I don't think Sam can really take that much blame at all.

"I'm No. 1 on the list of guys who need to get this thing fixed."

Jordan Matthews is a nice young man, but Sam Bradford has not approached greatness.

Left tackle Jason Peters exited the game with back spasms on a 7-yard sack that came on second-and-long at midfield, and did not return. "It's not serious," he told the Daily News. Asked if he would be back after the bye, he replied: "Yeah. I'll be back."

The gargantuan loss of Peters, the team's only future Hall of Fame player, obscured Bradford's mistake on the play.

Bradford had plenty of time to throw the ball away. Instead, Bradford's indecision turned what would have been a third-and-9 into third-and-16, which the Eagles failed to convert.

The ball thrown short in the fourth quarter was similarly innocuous but even more condemning.

On third-and-15 at the Eagles' 27, Bradford stood in the pocket, unhurried. Miles Austin ran 15 yards downfield, broke outside . . . and watched as Bradford's pass hit the ground 2 yards behind him.

Those are the passes a franchise quarterback makes.

Austin is not a franchise receiver, but that does not matter.

What matters is that Austin had no chance to make the catch.

Matthews had little chance; maybe none, considering his startling lack of proficiency this season.

"We've got to stop beating ourselves," Bradford said.

Yes, Bradford's receivers had dropped about a dozen passes entering Sunday night, depending on the available amateur estimates.

They had at least five more against Carolina.

So what?

Just because a baseball team can't hit doesn't mean the ace can throw meatballs.

This isn't Cole Hamels painting corners and getting burned by bad defense and poor run support; not all the time, anyway. Right now, Sam Bradford is Kyle Kendrick, a .500 pitcher, walking guys and giving up bombs.

But Sam Bradford is making Cole Hamels money.


Email: hayesm@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @inkstainedretch