It’s a proven fact that you won’t succeed in the NFL without a quarterback. Just look at the current teams with one and without one.
There’s just no way around it – either you have one or you don’t. In fact, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said it best in a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters yesterday, according to Les Bowen of Philly.com.
You’re tied to the hip of your quarterback, no matter where you’re a head coach,” Arians said. “That relationship and how well that guy plays pretty much (determines) your job. You can have the greatest defense and you can run the football, but if you don’t have a quarterback, you’re not going to go anywhere.”
Obviously, it’s clear that the Philadelphia Eagles don’t have the greatest defense and they can’t consistently run the ball effectively…so what about that whole quarterback thing Arians is referring to? Well it seems like Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is ready to tie himself to his current starting quarterback Sam Bradford. Whether or not Bradford wants to return is a different story.
Either way, we’re just a few months away from a pivotal moment for the future of all parties involved. So that brings us to the question that will be debated for what will seem like an eternity: Should the Eagles and Chip Kelly re-sign Sam Bradford this offseason?
First, let’s take a look at Bradford’s numbers during the regular season this year despite playing in just 11 games. What are his numbers and how does he stack up against the rest of the NFL? Here is where Bradford ranks statistically among quarterbacks and his closest competitors (one ahead and one behind) in each category.
Attempts: 397 (17th) [Alex Smith (399)/Jay Cutler (396)]
Completions: 251 (18th) [Andy Dalton (255)/Teddy Bridgewater )
Completion Percentage: 63.2% (T-18th) [Blaine Gabbert (63.2%)/Jay Cutler (62.6%)]
Passing Yards: 2,664 (24th) [Teddy Bridgewater (2,733)/Tyrod Taylor (2,439)]
Passing Touchdowns: 14 (T-24th) [Joe Flacco (14)/Kirk Cousins (14)]
Interceptions: 11 (T-7th) [Ryan Fitzpatrick (11)/Kirk Cousins (11)]
There you have it, the definition of mediocrity. Bradford ranks right around the bottom half of the league in nearly every passing statistic. It isn’t encouraging to see Bradford’s name linked with players such as Blaine Gabbert and Kirk Cousins in multiple categories either. Now that doesn’t exactly seem like someone Kelly would want to hitch his wagon to, does it?
Well apparently he’s very interested in keeping Bradford in town. So much so that he made it known to the media earlier this week, according to Martin Frank of DelawareOnline.com.
We’ve always wanted Sam here,” Kelly said. “We wouldn’t have traded for him if we thought he was going to be here for a year.”
The Eagles have won two straight games since Bradford returned from a concussion and injured left (non-throwing) shoulder that caused him to miss two straight games, both Eagles’ losses. He completed 23 of 38 passes for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the Eagles’ 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
“I think Sam as a whole as progressed as the season has gone along,” Kelly said. “I think – not I think, I know – it takes a long while to play quarterback in this league. There are so many things you have to get. When we got Sam, we knew with any quarterback that it’s going to take time. Name any quarterback playing at a really high level right now, and they’ve been playing in the same system for years, not for months.
“And that’s what Sam’s case is – he’s just been playing in our system for months. But I’ve said it, and I’ll continue to say it, that I’ve seen improvement from Sam on a weekly basis. That gets you excited about him.”
As Kelly noted, Bradford has certainly improved on a weekly basis. It’s easy to see how much more comfortable the quarterback seems in Kelly’s system now compared to earlier in the year. But he still isn’t going out there and winning the Eagles any games on his own, he’s far from being a “franchise quarterback,” in my personal opinion. If I had to compare Bradford to another quarterback in the NFL right now, it would probably be Alex Smith…before he somehow figured out he can throw the ball deep, that is.
Bradford is slowly but surely developing under Kelly’s watch but it isn’t the major steps that many of us were expecting. Going into the regular season, the biggest question surrounding Bradford was his health. Well considering he’s been relatively healthy, his performance thus far has been rather disappointing. So what should the Eagles do with Bradford following this season?
Should the Eagles and Chip Kelly re-sign Sam Bradford?
— DiBirds (@DiBirdsBlog) December 17, 2015
While it certainly seems like Kelly wants Bradford around for the long haul, I personally wouldn’t sign him to an extension. There’s no way in hell that Bradford is signing a team friendly, short term deal. So the Eagles will either have to use the franchise tag, which will cost them more than $20 million or sign him to a long-term extension with a ton of guaranteed money. Neither of the options seem appealing at all but it seems like a panic move that Kelly could certainly make considering he has already invested $13 million and a second round pick in Bradford as well.
Yet many seem content with bringing back Bradford because there aren’t many other options out there. Well it seems like things could get interesting this offseason considering the state of quarterbacks around the league. There have been multiple rumors surrounding players such as Colin Kaepernick, Matthew Stafford, Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III. So there’s a chance that one of them could become available via trade or free agency during the offseason as well.
Let’s not forget about the 2016 NFL Draft either, which has one “big name” at quarterback in Jared Goff but there are some other players worth keeping an eye on as well. Paxton Lynch certainly possesses all of the physical tools that would have Kelly drooling but may skyrocket out of the Eagles’ reach on draft night. Many questioned whether or not the Eagles would draft Cardale Jones had he decided to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, maybe they’ll consider drafting him this year. There are tons of other quarterback prospects that could peak Kelly’s interest if the team decides to go down this route.
Either way, there are options beyond Bradford, that’s for sure. Now it’s just up to Kelly to either see his vision through and stick with Bradford for the long haul or write a new script. Hopefully he learned from his previous panic move of signing running back DeMarco Murray to a huge deal and he’ll put some real thought into what may be a life altering decision. Choose wisely, Chip, your NFL head coaching career could be decided by how you answer this one major question.