‘One More Game’
Vet CB Bradberry: Job's Not Done Yet
PHILADELPHIA – His even-keel demeanor and deadpan expression make it difficult to gauge his temperature, but even James Bradberry couldn’t camouflage his excitement after reaching the NFL’s pinnacle for the first time in his seven-year career.
“I’m lit right now,” Bradberry grinned. “I’m not really showing it, but I’m pretty happy.”
The quarterback-challenged Niners only attempted 18 passes in the Eagles’ decisive 31-7 drumming in the NFC Championship – compared to 24 carries – but Bradberry believes the raucous Lincoln Financial Field crowd also played a role in wilting the 49ers into becoming one-dimensional.
“I think the crowd played a role in our success, especially on defense,” Bradberry acknowledged. “They were really loud and making it hard for the quarterback to make checks and whatnot.”
As the game clock officially expired and as confetti flooded the field, Eagles players collectively erupted into an outpouring of emotion – even Bradberry.
“It was really exciting,” he said. “Really, really exciting. I was probably screaming a whole lot, just running around and yelling. But we still got one more game, and that’s the most important one.”
The Eagles will meet the Kansas City Chiefs, both tops seeds in their respective conferences, Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Although overshadowed by his charismatic locker mate – the other half of the league-best cornerback tandem, Darius Slay – Bradberry has consistently stood tall and delivered for a unit brimming with star-studded talent.
It was his big-play ability that was most evident last week against the Giants – a team that released him deep into the offseason merely eight months ago – in the NFC East-centric Divisional Round playoff matchup.
As the Eagles led by two touchdowns, Bradberry read the eyes of former teammate Daniel Jones and broke in front of wide receiver Darius Slayton, returning possession to the offense at the Giants’ 46-yard-line.
While Bradberry’s turnover ultimately failed to yield points, it personified his preparation diligence and playmaking tendencies that has returned him to among the elite.
Despite his reserved nature, Bradberry discreetly aced his weekly assignments, habitually blanketing his coverage area, reestablishing himself as one of the league’s preeminent cornerbacks by effectively manning his own island in a workmanlike capacity.
Because of his keen football intellect and scheme variance, the 29-year-old defender could adjust to defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s scheme almost instantly – he snagged a pick-six in the season-opening win in Detroit.
He also seamlessly gelled with his teammates on a personal level, particularly forging a close-knit bond with Slay, his partner in pass defense.
In retrospect, Bradberry was the missing component the Eagles secondary needed to reach new heights while arming Gannon with an influx of trust and optionality.
The hulking 6-foot-1, 210-pound defender is physical, instinctive, savvy, and among game’s the smartest cornerbacks. His anticipatory traits frequently manifest in pass breakups, where he finished third in the NFL (17).
As the season progressed, Bradberry sensed something special taking form.
“I think it was a little more confidence each and every game,” Bradberry explained. “My first game, our offense put up 38. Anytime you got an offense that can put up 30 points at any point, that’s a good thing to have as a defender.
“Our front seven dominated the next game, so they showed their behinds that game. It was off and on, you know? Secondary had one game where they dominated, then the linebackers had one game where they dominated. And I just feel like we can win in so many areas on our defense and the offense. It just showed throughout the season.”
When Bradberry was jettisoned from the cash-strapped Giants back in May, he wasn’t so much hyper-focused on reaching the Super Bowl as he was on landing in a place where his skills were appreciated and his talents were recognized.
Ultimately, he aspired to contribute to the team’s success by doing his share.
“I mean, it was hard for me to envision a Super Bowl,” Bradberry acknowledged. “Because the position I was in, I was just trying to make sure I got to a team, and I was gonna do my part.
“That’s what I was focused on this year – just make sure I did my part because I know we got a great team here and those guys are gonna dominate.”
From being discarded last spring and uncertain about his NFL future, Bradberry is now 60 minutes away from winning his first Super Bowl.
With his attention always focused on the present, Bradberry didn’t hesitate when asked if he’d given any thought on what he’s expecting in the coming weeks before Super Bowl LVII.
“Not really,” Bradberry said. “I just wanna enjoy this moment, enjoy tonight, and then move on to Monday tomorrow when I wake up.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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