Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why the read-option ruling is bad news for the Eagles

Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford have a problem.

His name is Dean Blandino. Don't know who he is? You're not alone. At least until yesterday.

Blandino is the NFL's vice president of officiating. On Monday he weighed in on the debate over the hit Ravens' defensive end Terrell Suggs delivered directly to the twice-reconstructed left knee of Eagles QB Sam Bradford in Saturday night's preseason game.

Bradford was not amused, and told Suggs so. Neither were his teammates. Suggs was slapped with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the play.

Suggs fired back, saying it's on the Eagles if they want to expose their quarterback in the "read-option" style of offense Kelly employs.

Yesterday Blandino said Suggs was right, that he should not have flagged.

Yesterday Kelly took issue with Blandino's interpretation, saying the Eagles know the rules, and specifically that the play Bradford was hit on was not a "read-option" play.

But if Blandino's ruling stands, it creates a problem for Kelly and Bradford. The fact is that the Birds do run a fair amount of read-option offense. Bradford could be whacked on those plays in which he has the option to hand the ball off, or pull it back.

Our Eagles beat writer Bob Grotz was on hand for both the game and yesterday's fallout. Here is how he views it.

Now the ball is literally back in Kelly's court. He either has to press his case with the NFL hierarchy that it's probably not a great idea for the league's premier quarterbacks - many of whom run some version of the read-option - to be open targets.

Yes, it's a violent game, and injuries will happen.

But teams could easily look at what Suggs did, followed by Blandino's rules interpretation, and feel free to tee off on Bradford.

Bradford was in the game Saturday night for just one series and got drilled on two of them. That does not bode well for a guy with his history of trouble staying healthy - and on the field.

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