Heading into Saturday night's game against Baltimore, quarterback Sam Bradford wanted to get hit, but the first-quarter shot that he took from Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs wasn't what he had in mind.
On his fifth play of the game, Bradford took the shotgun snap and handed off to Darren Sproles. Thinking it might be a read-option play (in which the quarterback decides to hand the ball off or keep it himself and run based on how the free edge rusher reacts), Suggs crashed into Bradford's knees in a play that has been deemed dirty by some.
On Monday, Bradford clarified that the play wasn't a read-option run, but was simply a designed handoff.
"There was no chance of me keeping that ball," Bradford said. "There is probably some gray area as to what a zone read is. Just because you're running a play out of the shotgun, it doesn't mean that it's a zone read.
"We have a lot of plays in our offense where it's not a zone read for us. It's an automatic give. I think the league is probably just going to have to clarify what a zone read is."
Bradford also explained that he wasn't so much frustrated with getting hit on the play, but that Suggs' intention on the play seemed to be directly linked to his two ACL surgeries.
"I have no problem getting hit," Bradford stated. "If you want to come hit me, hit me in the chest, but I think when guys are diving directly at your knees, that's a little bit different … I said it after the game on Saturday, that's probably not the last time that's going to happen. We just have to figure out a way to protect the quarterback."
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Head Coach Chip Kelly spoke about the play in length before the start of Monday's training session. In doing so, he cleared up a common misconception about how many read-option style plays the Eagles actually run.
"We don't run it more than Seattle and we don't run it more than San Francisco," Kelly said. "We don't run it as much as (the media) think we run it. Every shotgun run is not a zone-read play. The only read-option we've run this season has been with (Tim Tebow)."
Even if the play was one of the few read-option calls in the Eagles' playbook, Bradford knows that handing off and getting the ball into the hands of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews or Sproles will be the best option just about every time.
"Even on the play when it is a zone read, our goal is to give the ball to the running back," Bradford said. "We want them to have the ball as much as possible. They are much better runners than I am. We can find different ways schematically to make sure we're giving the ball 99 percent of the time."
While the Suggs' hit and the reaction to it have been the biggest stories revolving around Bradford's debut, it was the other 13 snaps (including penalties) that defined the quarterback's debut in an Eagles uniform. He completed three of his five pass attempts, and while rust was inevitable, he ultimately lead the Eagles down the field for a touchdown, showing his ability to flourish in the system.
"I thought there was some good and I thought there was some bad," Bradford said. "Obviously, it was nice to go down and get points. I think just as far as the timing on some of the pass plays, I was a little bit early on one and then a little late on the other. I just have to clean up some of that timing and get in rhythm with those guys.
"I threw some extra with the guys today, just trying to work on that. I'm sure we'll get some extra routes this week at the end of practice, but we have a lot of reps coming up in the next two weeks."
As for the speed of the game, there wasn't much of an adjustment needed for Bradford, as he's grown accustomed to the high-flying tempo during training sessions.
"It was fun to get out there and go that fast, especially because last week after practicing with Baltimore and having to huddle all week, I felt like we were in slow motion the whole week," Bradford said. "We cranked it up a few times in practice, but I thought we executed our tempo pretty well on Saturday."