When the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2015 season kicks off on September 14 against the Atlanta Falcons, it’s a safe bet all eyes will be on quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford will be attempting a comeback after tearing the ACL in his knee twice and playing in just seven games over the last two seasons. He hasn’t played in a real NFL game since October of 2013 but apparently head coach Chip Kelly feels Bradford is the QB who will lead the Eagles back to the playoffs.
In fact, to hear Kelly tell it, Bradford is going to be the next Drew Brees.
In a recent meeting Kelly had with reporters, much of the discussion was about Bradford and with good reason. This offseason, in addition to completely overhauling the roster, Kelly famously traded QB Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Bradford, a move that still has many fans scratching their heads.
Why would you trade away a QB just a few years removed from a season where he threw for 27 touchdowns and finished the season with a passer rating of 119.2 for a player who has spent more time off the field than on it?
To hear Kelly tell it, it’s a risk/reward situation similar to what the New Orleans Saints experienced with Brees.
“I’ve … seen quarterbacks like Drew Brees come back with 25 staples in his shoulder and everybody said he would never play again. Ask the Miami Dolphins what the history of their franchise would be like if their doctors didn’t fail him on the medical. You don’t know. Maybe Nick Saban is still coaching in the NFL. You don’t know.
“But that’s a risk we were willing to take. You know it’s a risk, but it was a risk we were willing to take.”
The bottom line is that Kelly firmly believes that Bradford gives the Eagles a greater chance of success than Foles did and it’s worth the risk he is taking.
And that may be true. There is no question that Bradford is an exceptional talent that was more than worthy of being the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. The issue has always been that Bradford has had problems staying healthy.
In addition to the twice-torn ACL, there has been a concussion, a high ankle sprain and shoulder problems that have all resulted in Bradford missing time. He has missed 31 of the possible 80 NFL games he could have played in, which at the end of the day is worrisome, especially for a team looking to return to the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl.
In Kelly’s eyes, it’s just part of life in the NFL.
“I think everybody in the NFL is 100 percent injury prone. Jeremy Maclin, two ACLs. Jason Kelce had an ACL and sports hernia surgery. Our left tackle [Jason Peters] had two Achilles. Our middle linebacker [DeMeco Ryans did also]…
“You can go on and on and on. I don’t know if there’s anybody in this league who isn’t injured. That’s just part of the deal.”
For Kelly’s sake I hope he’s right.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Kelly has mortgaged his future in Philadelphia on Bradford and his ability to return from his torn ACL 100 percent and play at a high level. If Bradford goes down during the season to yet another injury or doesn’t perform as well as expected, people will seriously question Kelly’s decision-making and if it was a mistake to give him the kind of power he now wields in the franchise.
And if that happens, it’s a safe bet Bradford won’t be the only person packing his bags and heading out of town once the season is over.