Eagles' Sam Bradford shows he's perfect fit for Chip Kelly's system

GREEN BAY - Understatement is kind of a Chip Kelly thing, and the guys who end up being Chip's guys - a group that certainly would seem to include Sam Bradford - quickly adopt that mode, if they didn't come preprogrammed with it.

But Bradford, who waited so long to unfurl what he unfurled Saturday night at Lambeau Field, couldn't fully contain himself, after completing 10 of 10 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns in three series of work against a defense that is supposed to be good enough to help the Packers win the NFC this season, or come close to it.

How big was this, the Eagles showing they could sync up perfectly with their new quarterback, who'd played just one previous series in the preseason, and hadn't even practiced 11-on-11 until four weeks ago?

"It was huge," Bradford said after leading his team to a 39-26 victory. "Obviously, it was nice to get out there last week and play the one series, but today, to be out there for three series and have three touchdowns, to be able to come to the sideline and communicate with the offensive line, talk to Chip about where we're going and what we're thinking, I think that was big, too."

Bradford's passer rating of 156.7 was 1.6 points short of perfect, because his average yardage was just a tick below the top of the scale. Still, just about any quarterback on the planet would have been happy to have thrown the football the way Bradford threw it Saturday, in only his second live action in a year, his third exposure to game conditions since the middle of the 2013 season, as he returns from back-to-back left ACL tears.

"We just found a rhythm, a real one. It was nice to come off the field, go back on, keep that rhythm, keep firing," Bradford said.

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"I thought Sam played well," Kelly said after the Eagles made it 115 points in three preseason games, 38.3 points per game, if you're scoring at home. "I thought he was really poised out there, had a really good command of what we were doing, really located the football. I thought he played really well."

Someone suggested to Bradford that this might be the standard he would want to set going forward.

"I think it would be a little unrealistic to think you're going to have that type of game every time out," Bradford said. "It was good to see the work we put in during the week pay off tonight. I thought our guys up front did a great job of not only pass protection, but in run-blocking as well. It seemed like we were firing on all cylinders tonight."

"The guy can throw the ball," left tackle Jason Peters noted. Peters and just about every Eagle who was asked about Bradford Saturday night said this is what they see in practice all the time. No one seemed surprised that Bradford had approached perfection.

"You can see that he's taking on that leadership role. Lotta guys rallying behind him," said outside linebacker Brandon Graham.

Last week against the Ravens, he'd completed three of five for 35 yards in leading a touchdown drive, but several of his throws had been wild. Bradford had missed a wide-open Riley Cooper for what should have been a long touchdown.

There was nothing like that from Bradford in Green Bay. All those pesky questions about rust and comfort level seemed to fade into the Lambeau brickwork.

Yes, it's the preseason, teams don't game-plan, they play subs here and there, the Eagles' tempo can distort the game much more easily than it will in Week 13. But Kelly's offense hasn't looked like this in either of his previous preseasons.

"I think this is the best we've looked since he got here, in the preseason," Peters said. "The first year we were just getting adjusted. The second year we didn't look too good in the preseason, but we did OK during the season. I think this is the best we've looked . . . We've been together longer, got the system down. Everybody kind of knows what's expected, knows what to do, and is playing a little faster."

Mark Sanchez wasn't as smooth as Bradford but he kept the rout going; the Eagles led 39-14 at halftime, and their quarterbacks were 23-for-29 for 271 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 145.2 passer rating.

Matt Barkley (5-for-9 for 28 yards) and Tebow (2-for-2 for 15) were much less impressive. They didn't complete a pass longer than 12 yards, and the deep subs on defense - including some who might not be so deep, such as rookie corner Eric Rowe and veteran nickel corner E.J. Biggers - really struggled as Green Bay's third and fourth QBs, Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard, led a face-saving comeback.

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson suffered what Johnson called a minor left MCL sprain early and left in favor of Matt Tobin. Kelly said he wasn't concerned about Johnson being ready for the Sept. 14 opener at Atlanta. Ditto kicker Cody Parkey, who apparently suffered a minor groin injury in Tuesday's practice.

Inside linebacker Kiko Alonso had been scheduled to make his Eagles debut, but Kelly said Alonso felt bothered by a nagging leg injury in warm-ups - nothing to do with his repaired ACL, Kelly said - and Alonso did not play.

Alonso's fellow ILBs, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, did see their first action of the preseason. Kendricks looked really rusty. In fact, they were the prime suspects in the biggest blot on the first-team defense's ledger. With Aaron Rodgers sitting out, as had been foreshadowed, rookie Hundley hit wide receiver Ty Montgomery over the middle, Ryans left churning in Montgomery's wake. Kendricks could have mitigated Ryans' mistake, but he whiffed on the tackle, and Montgomery had gained 52 yards by the time Nolan Carroll chased him down.

In all, 14 Eagles caught passes. Josh Huff traveled to Green Bay but sat out, still dealing with

the death of a close friend in

Houston.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian