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October 12, 2015

Bradford's pregame speech Sunday wasn't his first time speaking up, says Kelly

Eagles NFL
101215_Bradford_AP Matt Rourke/AP

Sam Bradford looks to pass during the Eagles' 39-17 win over the Saints.

Sam Bradford has been getting a lot of credit -- rightfully so -- for how well he played Sunday in the Eagles' 39-17 win over the Saints. He racked up 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns (as well two interceptions) on 71 percent passing.

Those number are very good, but it seems like he's getting just as much applause for the pregame speech he delivered in, of all places, the locker room. On Monday, however, Chip Kelly warned the media not to make a big deal out it.

Not because the Eagles head coach doesn't believe it was effective, but rather because it's nothing new.

“I think that happens a lot on this team in a lot of different ways, so I didn’t think anything of it to be honest,” Kelly said when asked about Bradford's pregame speech to his teammates. [Bradford spoke Sunday before news of his impromptu shower meeting was out and was not available to the media on Monday.]

But this is the first time we've heard about it coming from the quarterback. It's also the first time we've seen this kind of a game from the Eagles offense under Bradford. Perhaps it means something more coming from a former Heisman winner at the most important position in sports. Not quite, says Kelly.

“No, I don’t think [it was more important coming from the QB]," Kelly added. "I don’t weigh it as one person is more important than another person. Obviously the guys who speak have to be able to back it up, and he could do that. 

"You know, sometimes they say the empty barrel makes the most noise. You’re not going to get anything out of a lot of guys who talk all the time that don’t perform. It’s a matter of kind of matching that up. But I know our players listen to Sam and have a good feel for Sam.”

And after a performance like that, Bradford is only likely to earn more trust and respect from his teammates. So if you want to buy into the narrative that the former Heisman winner sparked the offense into playing their best game of the season, you wouldn't be out of line in doing so.

When asked whether or not his QB needed to perform before being able to lead, however, Kelly said Bradford's done plenty in that respect.

“No, I think [Bradford's] performed since he’s been here," he said. "And it’s not like he hasn’t spoken before, so I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.”

He has a point there. If this isn't the first pregame, fire-them-up speech Bradford's given and the team is only 2-3, maybe their success Sunday had more to do with what Bradford did on the field than in the showers before the game.


And speaking of Bradford's play on the field... 

Why has he looked so different from the first half to the second of games? It's almost like he's two totally different quarterbacks.

And it's not like this is an issue that's plagued Bradford throughout his career. Look at how his splits this season compare to his splits from a year ago:

1st half (2015)54/96
2nd half (2015)
1st half (career)548/928
2nd half (career)
Total (career)1,152/1,950

*Two of those came Sunday.

On Sunday, Bradford spoke about the Eagles efficiency on first and second down as a key to the offense's early success against the Saints. Despite just posting 10 first-half points, the Eagles totaled 300 yards, but those two red-zone interceptions -- his only two turnovers of the day -- proved to be costly.

After having a chance to watch the film, Chip Kelly didn't seem concerned by his QB's slow starts.

“Maybe he just needs to see the looks a little more," Kelly said. "You know, he settles down a little bit. I know he has been statistically — and if you look at it he really has been — better. But I think maybe he just gets settled a little bit. That’s a good question for him.”

Bradford wasn't available on Monday, but I'm sure it will come up once practice starts on Wednesday; the players have off Tuesday because they don't play again until Monday night.

However, Kelly did offer an interesting idea on how to help jumpstart his quarterback.

“We could play a game earlier," Kelly added. "You know, we could get a little scrimmage going before, a double header. He’d be great in a double header. [Laugh] That’d be awesome! That’s a good suggestion. 

"I don’t know. I mean, we’ll talk to him a little bit about it. I think he needs to see some things and then it kind of seems like he gets settled. He’s one of those guys, I think, that if he gets hit, he feels a little better. But you also don’t want to have him get hit, so I don’t have an answer for that."

True. You don't want your quarterback, especially one with a twice surgically repaired knee, getting hit. And against the Saints, he wasn't sacked all game. 

And as the head coach concluded, he made sure to point out that aside from the two interceptions, the offense, including Bradford, moved the ball quite well in the first half. 

"But I think offensively, as a group, we moved the ball well in the first half, we just didn’t capitalize," Kelly said. "Those two red zone turnovers really hurt us.”

Luckily, they didn't wind up costing the Eagles, because second-half Sam Bradford came out firing after the break and helped the offense to 29 straight points, crushing any hopes the Saints had at halftime of stealing one at the Linc.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin