Philadelphia Eagles: Sam Bradford and Chip Kelly’s Plan

Michael Mankoff weighs in on Chip Kelly's decision to Sign Sam Bradford.

Michael Mankoff weighs in on Chip Kelly’s decision to Sign Sam Bradford.
Chip KellySep 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (90) sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

(C+P) — Sam Bradford‘s career began with a bang. In 2010, the former Oklahoma Sooner was drafted first overall by the St. Louis Rams and was awarded AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after eclipsing Peyton Manning‘s record for completions by a rookie.

Bradford’s numbers were less impressive in 2011, and the Rams went 2-14. Even worse, Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain and was forced to miss the final 5 games of the season. Despite this, the Rams began the 2012 season with high hopes for their third-year quarterback. Despite the Rams’ 7-9 record, Bradford put up career high numbers and gave Rams fans hope for the 2013 season.

All that hope disappeared in an instant in October 2013 when Bradford suffered an ACL tear in a game against the Carolina Panthers, causing him to miss the rest of his 2013 season.

Despite this injury and subsequent surgery, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher remained hopeful in his quarterback- and with good reason. Before his injury, Bradford was on pace to put up career numbers in almost every major passing category.

Chip Kelly
May 28, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) passes in front of quarterback Tim Tebow (11) during OTA’s at the NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After a rapid recovery, Bradford was poised to silence his critics in 2014, who claimed that he was injury prone. Unfortunately, the critics were proved right, and Bradford again suffered a season-ending ACL injury in August. At this point, the Rams appeared to be losing faith in Bradford and the trade rumors began to circulate.

These rumors proved to be well founded.  In March, Bradford was traded to the Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles. This move startled many Eagles fans, as Foles was nothing short of brilliant in 2013 after taking over for the injured Michael Vick. Although Foles was less effective in 2014, he was playing behind a battered offensive line and suffered a broken collarbone in week 9 against the Houston Texans.

NFL analysts seemed perplexed by the trade, citing Bradford’s multiple injuries. The Eagles refused to comment on any rumors, but everyone knew that the wily Chip Kelly had a plan. Would he use Bradford as collateral in a bid to draft number one pick Marcus Mariota? Or would he attempt a trade for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick?

So far, none of that has happened. The Eagles didn’t even draft a quarterback and Kaepernick is still wearing a red and gold uniform. The decision to resign Mark Sanchez also comes as a surprise; why resign a high-profile quarterback like Sanchez with Sam Bradford waiting in the wings?

So what is Chip Kelly’s plan? All signs point to making Sam Bradford the Eagles starting quarterback in the fall. And why not? In between injuries, Bradford showed signs of brilliance, especially in his rookie season.

On top of this, Bradford excelled in an up-tempo Oklahoma Sooner’s offense, and everyone knows that Chip Kelly is as synonymous with up-tempo offense as Philadelphia is with cheesesteaks.

Although injury issues still exist, Chip Kelly and the Eagles pride themselves on their ability to rehab players. But will this be enough? It certainly wasn’t with Michael Vick, but Bradford’s play style (he is mostly a pocket quarterback and presents a very low run threat) ensures that he will take fewer hits than Vick.

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