It’s rare that preseason games and events have any lasting effect, but the Philadelphia Eagles can’t put Sam Bradford being tackled by Terrell Suggs in the past, resulting in a war of versions between them and the Baltimore Ravens.
The one fact here: Suggs tackled Bradford and was a flag was thrown, calling for a personal foul. A day later NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network that a flag should not have been thrown. The big argument seems to be on whether Bradford was doing a read option or working from the shotgun. According to Blandino, if the quarterback has an option, he’s considered a runner until he either clearly doesn’t have the football or he re-establishes himself as a passer, so it’s not a foul by rule.
Chip Kelly, the Eagles’ head coach who took a huge risk by trading for Bradford and his injury problems during the offseason, obviously disagrees.
It was just a handoff. Not every shotgun run is a zone-read play. We didn’t run any zone-reads. We don’t run as much zone-read as everyone thinks we do. I thought the interpretation on the field was correct. He said it was a read-option play, but it wasn’t a read-option play. I know our quarterbacks can get hit on a read-option play, but not every run we have is a read-option run. We run sweep, power, counter, trap — all of those things out of the gun. Everyone in the league runs shotgun runs. Are they going to hit every quarterback in the league when they hand off in the shotgun? That’s up to the league. I think it would be troubling for the league if every quarterback in the shotgun can be hit.
Bradford took the snap from the center, turned to his left and handed the ball off to running back Darren Sproles. Suggs wasn’t blocked and easily got to Bradford, diving towards his left knee, which has been surgically operated on. Suggs didn’t appear to be going full speed at Bradford, but that’s another thing open to interpretation.
When you run the read-option, you have to know the rules. If you want to run the read-option with your starting quarterback that has had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules. I could have hit him harder than that. I eased up.
On the Eagles side of the fence, both Bradford and left tackle Jason Peters are convinced Suggs was trying to hurt Bradford’s knees. Chip Kelly doesn’t think the hit was intended to injure Bradford. The game came after three days of joint practices, and the Eagles feel Suggs knew very well about Bradford’s situation, and still ignored it and went for the knee.
John Harbaugh, the Ravens’ head coach, is obviously taking sides, and it’s not surprising to guess which one. He wasn’t very happy with the implying that Suggs is a dirty player.
When you start popping off about somebody’s character, you cross the line. That’s not really something that we would respect. But most of their guys over there understood the play and understood Suggs was playing hard and trying to get stops. He played it exactly the way we were coaching him to play it.