More chances for redemption ahead for Bradford, Eagles

The injury report seemed to make the Eagles Week 3 game against the Jets an unlikely win. Shorthanded on defense, the Eagles got players to step up.

Offensively, it was another struggle to the finish. One big quarter paced the Eagles. It was nearly not enough.

At 1-2, the Eagles have life and have reason to believe the season is far from lost. They were a field-goal away from an opening week win. They are still just one game behind the Cowboys.

But this is not the Chip Kelly offense the Eagles have brought the previous two seasons. In those two seasons, the defense was the liability. Now, it's actually the reason the Eagles are 1-2.

With struggles in the first three games posing many questions, the Eagles have a few games ahead the present vulnerable opponents that could get the Eagles offense, and more notably the struggling Sam Bradford, back into shape.

Week 4 has the Eagles heading to Washington to face the Redskins. The Redskins are 1-2 with a solid victory over the Rams and lackluster losses to the Dolphins and Giants. The game against the Giants was most telling.

Kirk Cousins is the quarterback. Just like the Jets, the Redskins are playing with a backup. They committed three turnovers. They allowed 369 yards of total offense, 273 yards in the passing game. If there is ever a game for the Eagles to attack in the air, it might be this one.

Then the Eagles host the New Orleans Saints, a team struggling to find any rhythm or get close to a win. And to make matters worse, Drew Brees is currently on the shelf. The Eagles could end up facing three backup quarterbacks in a row. That would be something. In the meantime, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored nine points in a loss to the Houston Texans this week, one week after scoring 26 on the Saints.

Week 6 presents another division game as the Eagles host the Giants. It may seem hard to believe after a winning effort, but the Giants actually generated less offense than the Redskins did, yardage wise.

If the Eagles struggle against any of the next three teams they face, something is seriously wrong. 

It provides the Eagles a chance to gain the one game back from the Cowboys while adding serious life back to their playoff hopes. These are games the Eagles should not lose. It is really in Bradford's hands.

The Eagles defense, while good to this point and gearing up to face some lacking offenses in the next three weeks, will not do what they did to the Jets every week. They will have poor plays and mistakes made and points allowed as a result.

It is what the Eagles offense can do to offset that.

If the Eagles defense has proven anything in the first three weeks, it's that they are capable of getting a stop in a big situation and giving the offense a chance. The offense in Chip Kelly's first two seasons was almost a can't-miss situation. In some games, they could score at will. To this point, they have scored 58 points in three games.

Bradford is a primary reason for the struggles. The running game finally got legs against the Jets. The passing game looked promising in Atlanta in the second half, but not at all against Dallas and again against the Jets. 

Passes are off-target — overthrown, under-thrown, thrown behind the receiver — or dropped far too often. This week's preparation should focus on the fact that a sub-par effort from the passing game wasn't enough to sink the Eagles, but that they can't be satisfied with just a one in the win column. This week, they need to chase No. 2.

So this week comes with the offense needing to prove itself again — a better game from Bradford, a better game from the receivers, a better game on the sidelines from Chip Kelly.

If the Eagles can put it together over the next three weeks, given the current state of future opponents, that 0-2 start could turn into a 4-2 record quickly.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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