Improved Bradford: It's all in the footwork

Sam Bradford and Eagles quarterbacks coach Ryan Day noticed a problem with his footwork three weeks ago. It caused Bradford to misfire on passes too short of his intended target.

So they went to work on the weight transfer in his lower body while he threw. The results have been evident. Bradford improved his mechanics and is coming off a performance against the Dallas Cowboys when he completed 69.4 percent of his passes and did not turn the ball over.

"It's something me and Coach Day talked about, something both him and I noticed from watching the game tape and the practice tape," Bradford said. "We drilled it a lot out here the past couple of weeks, and I think it's something that has paid off."

The relationship between the quarterback and his position coach is an important one, and Day and Bradford have worked together since the spring. Day has been tasked with introducing Bradford to the offense while he also has been reintroduced to playing quarterback after missing much of the last two seasons because of knee injuries.

"We've really put a heavy emphasis on his footwork," Day said. "We've worked on transferring his weight on his throws and being more efficient. He has a really efficient motion, so I think the last couple of weeks we've put a heavy emphasis on it and it's showed up in the games."

When Bradford analyzed his performance earlier this season, he noticed that his "footwork was just all over the place." He did not know whether it was the by-product of being in a new offense or his prolonged absence.

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"But I feel when my feet are under me and I'm in rhythm, good things happen," Bradford said. "And when my feet are bad and I'm out of rhythm, that's when you see the underthrows and overthrows, throws too early, too late."

He also has moved better in the pocket. One play that those watching at home on Sunday might have considered a failure actually pleased Day. It was the Eagles' first series of the game, when Bradford threw a 6-yard pass to Josh Huff on third and 9. But the throw came after the Cowboys rushed up the middle, and Bradford was able to escape the pressure, roll out to his right, and send a pass in between the numbers on Huff's jersey.

"I don't know if he was able to do that a little while ago," Day said. "His pocket movement has been good, even sliding in the pocket."

Bradford said that type of ability is the key to his improvement. When he's in the pocket with faulty footwork, he might throw the ball improperly or fail to go through his reads.

"I think the biggest thing for me has been my ability to move in the pocket, get to the back side of some progressions - the second, third, or fourth guy," Bradford said. "I feel much more comfortable doing that now as opposed to earlier in this season."

Bradford said experience has helped, and both he and the coach have a better understanding of the plays that best suit him. He also has spent more time with his pass catchers, and the connection with top targets Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz is evident.

"Like anybody, it's going to take a little bit of time," Day said. "You look at the best quarterbacks in this league, a lot of them have been in their offenses a long time and are familiar with that. So I thought he's been taking some strides and we've been heading in the right direction."

There's also the mental hurdle he passed with his health. Bradford said he has benefited from "knowing I've taken shots this year, I've gotten hit, I've gotten back up."

Day has seen Bradford's leadership grow with more weeks in the system. He spends time in the film room with other skill-position players. Day did not have an expectation for where Bradford would be after eight games, but he understood there would be some growing pains.

With eight games to go, the Eagles need to hope those growing pains have passed, and Bradford - helped by better footwork - can have more consistency during the second half of the season.

"Honestly, and this is not just coach talk, the whole goal was to get him better every day, every week, every game," Day said. "That's really all you can focus on, because there's no way to put a bar or expectation on where someone's going to be."

zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm