In a matchup featuring quarterbacks looking to shine on a national stage, the Redskins are hoping to put Sam Bradford into a situation where he has another off performance.
Now is the time for both quarterbacks in tonight's game to make a statement. For the Washington Redskins, they're hoping Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford's statement, if he's able to make one, will come in a losing effort.
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, has dealt with his fair share of inconsistences this year in his first season with the Eagles, as he's thrown for 16 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
His quarterback rating of 83.8 is the eighth worst in the NFL this season among quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts.
But the Redskins understand that the streaky Bradford can get on a run, as he did during the second half of the two teams' matchup in Week 4 when the former Heisman Trophy winner threw three touchdowns in the second half after being shutout in the first.
"I think he's coming along," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "He's obviously gaining a lot of confidence in what he's doing. I've said that before – it takes time and it takes repetitions for quarterbacks in new systems whether you're a veteran or not. I think he's just gaining more and more confidence. He's gaining momentum at the quarterback position as far as confidence in where to go with the ball in his receivers, his tight ends, obviously his backs. So he's playing a lot better."
The system Bradford is playing in is, of course, more of an up-tempo style, as Eagles head coach Chip Kelly likes to test defenses by running the no huddle offense as much as he can.
Since returning from injuries that kept him out of 2 1/2 games in November, Bradford has thrown five touchdowns to three interceptions while leading the Eagles to victories over the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
"You can tell he's getting more comfortable," Gruden said. "That's the case with a lot of quarterbacks whether you're a veteran or not when you go to a new system with terminology and route concepts and getting a feel for how coaches like to call plays. There's a learning curve there and it's going to take a little bit of time. You can see he's getting more comfortable. Offensive line is doing a lot better for him. And the receivers, he has better way of knowing each other as far as where they're going and how they're getting there. You can see major improvement."
If the Redskins want to capture their second NFC East title in four seasons while knocking the Eagles out of playoff contention for a second consecutive season, they'll need to force Bradford into a bad game.
But with the implications so high, Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland – who recorded a key interception in Washington's Week 16 victory over Philadelphia last season – is expecting Bradford's best.
"You can never really judge a guy off a bad game, because they always respond," Breeland said. "We're looking forward for him to come play his best."