CHICAGO — After Nigel Bradham picked a Jay Cutler pass out of the air on the Bears’ 30-yard line, he saw a lot of green ahead of him.
The veteran linebacker ran around tight end Logan Paulsen, then juked past Cutler. After that, he could see the end zone, but rookie center Cody Whitehair was finally able to wrestle him out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
“I wanted to (score),” a smiling Bradham said in the bowels of Soldier Field, just before getting on the team bus following the Eagles’ 29-14 win.
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“I definitely wanted to. I don’t know if you could see how I was running, but I definitely wanted to get in.”
Whitehair ruined Bradham’s chance at his first career touchdown, but the huge interception was the first for Bradham since 2014.
On the play, Cutler was trying to find Alshon Jeffery, but by the time the ball landed in Bradham’s hands, it looked like it was thrown to him. Cutler was under pressure and said he was trying to get the ball over Bradham, but his injured thumb didn’t allow him to get enough on the pass.
“It felt great, man,” Bradham said. “Just pretty much being in the scheme, reading the quarterback’s eyes. He saw we were in man coverage so I just pretty much read his eyes and my guy was actually blocking, so I just dropped back into the zone where I thought the ball was going.”
On the play after the interception, Carson Wentz hit Trey Burton for a two-yard touchdown and a nine-point lead became a 15-point lead and essentially ended the contest.
Through two games, Bradham has been an integral part of the Eagles’ defense, which has give up just 17 points under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Bradham, who came to Philly to reunite with Schwartz after playing under him in Buffalo in 2014, has played 51 snaps (of 52) in each of the first two games.
Back in Schwartz’s aggressive 4-3 defense, Bradham looks like he's duplicating his career year from 2014.
“This is why I came here,” Bradham said. “This is why Schwartz brought me here. He’s the one who really brought me here. I play hard, I do a lot of things because the coaching here is great. They all love me and they motivate me and I’d do anything for them.”
When Schwartz and Bradham were last together in Buffalo in 2014, the Bills were the fourth-best defense in the NFL in yards and points allowed per game.
Is this the same defense?
“It’s definitely the same defense,” Bradham said. “Probably better.”