What They’re Saying About The Eagles
Just when people thought they had an idea as to what Chip Kelly was planning for the future, he dealt Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford. Then he doubled down on the number of former Oklahoma Sooners in his backfield by signing former Cowboys running back and current NFL Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray.
Here’s what the national media are saying about the deals.
Nathan Jahnke of ESPN.com and Pro Football Focus gives the Eagles a C-plus for their return in the Foles-Bradford swap:
The last we saw of Sam Bradford was in 2013, and at that time he was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. His accuracy percentage (completion percentage adjusted for receiver drops and other factors) was 74.7 percent, which was seventh best among 41 qualifying quarterbacks. The last time he played a full season was 2012, when he was above average, grading out at a plus-8.5 in his PFF pass rating.
The obvious concern with Bradford is his health. In every year since becoming a starter Bradford was pressured more than the average quarterback, which leads to more hits and sacks. In Philadelphia, he will be behind one of the best lines in the league, so he should take fewer sacks and hits — which lowers his injury risk.
The move looks like an upgrade for the Eagles. While Foles played well in 2013, his play deteriorated in 2014. His accuracy percentage in 2014 was 68.6 percent, which ranked in the bottom 10 among quarterbacks.
Adding a potential second-round pick in 2016 in order to potentially upgrade at quarterback might be a little steep, but the provisions in the trade help in case Bradford doesn’t start or is hurt.
He handed the Rams a C-minus for their return in the trade.
Jahnke also evaluated the Eagles’ acquisition of Murray:
Though McCoy may be a shiftier runner, Murray is a consistent force at turning big holes at the point of attack into long gains. He had 27 runs of 15 or more yards in 2014, nine more than any other runner, and he will exploit the blocking the Eagles give him as well if not better than McCoy was able to.
While the Cowboys’ O-line is better at pass protection, the Eagles’ O-line is better at run blocking. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson were all among the top six at their respective positions in 2014 in run blocking, despite Mathis, Kelce and Johnson missing time. When you move Murray from the second-best run-blocking line to the best, you’re going to get something special.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports believes the Eagles came out on top in the trade with St. Louis:
I thought the Eagles would be the team to get [Marcus] Mariota, but this likely takes them out of it after getting Bradford on the heels of re-signing Mark Sanchez. Bradford is coming back off a second knee injury he suffered in the preseason last year. So there are obvious durability questions. Bradford threw a combined 35 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 2012 and 2013 in 23 games. There is talent there — if he’s on the field. In Chip Kelly’s offense, where the ball gets out quick, Bradford could be better. The word is Kelly loves Bradford. This could lead to Bradford having a career rejuvenation. I would expect the Eagles to give him a short-term extension to alleviate the big cap number.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland looks into Bradford’s struggles at throwing the ball downfield:
Bradford didn’t throw deep at all, and when he did, he posted a dismal QBR. In his career, 9.9 percent of his passes have traveled 20 yards or more in the air, which ranks 24th out of 29 qualifying passers over that time frame. His QBR on those throws was also 24th out of 29. And his average pass has traveled just 7.5 yards in the air; only Alex Smith has managed to be worse.
Rams fans complained that it somehow wasn’t Bradford’s fault — that, through all the offensive coordinators and draft picks and free-agent dollars spent on receivers and linemen, it was everybody else and not their quarterback. But last year, we got a full season of the Rams offense without Bradford. And what do you know? They suddenly somehow found a way to throw downfield! The combination of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill, hardly superstar quarterbacks, threw passes 20 yards or more on 13.4 percent of their passes, the eighth-highest rate in the league. Their QBR on those passes was 93.6, which was 12th among NFL teams. Either Kenny Britt is the greatest downfield weapon the league has ever seen, or Bradford is not a good downfield passer. You pick.
Don Banks of SI.com notes how difficult it is to fully comprehend Kelly’s motivations for his moves:
Who knew trying to figure out what current Eagles coach Chip Kelly is really up to would be so exhausting? The Nick Foles for Sam Bradford deal Kelly cut with the Rams on Tuesday continues the head-scratching season in Philly. Does Bradford’s arrival, in the last year of his rookie deal, mean there will be no attempt to trade up to draft Marcus Mariota? Is Kelly finally through cleaning house of every offensive skill player that bore Reid’s stamp, or might Brent Celek and Riley Cooper still be in jeopardy of being jettisoned at some point this off-season, joining the exiled DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Foles?
I get that Bradford played in a Kelly-like spread offense and rolled up big, splashy numbers at Oklahoma. And that he knows Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur well, after Shurmur was his Rams OC during his rookie year of 2010. But is Bradford’s fit in Kelly’s offense that much better than that of Foles, who if anything might be a superior athlete than the ex-Rams’ QB? And doesn’t Bradford’s injury history, which includes two ACL injuries, give Kelly more than a little pause?
Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News thinks Kelly is too smart to make Bradford his long-term QB and his pursuit of Marcus Mariota is still in high gear:
Before the trade for Bradford, Kelly was still a strong suitor to trade up and secure his prized Oregon quarterback, Mariota, in the draft. That should change here, because the selection and veteran QB configuration is different. But Kelly’s affinity for Mariota should not.
Bradford, who played in a spread offense at Oklahoma, might be able to execute concepts in Kelly’s version. But he’s not the fresh, strong-armed dynamic athlete that Mariota is.
Bradford, simply because of his No. 1 overall pedigree, has more outside value than Foles. Remember how the QB-needy Bills and Browns were reportedly interested? They couldn’t get Bradford because they didn’t have a Foles to offer and couldn’t make the money work.
What we should really expect next from the Eagles and Kelly is an attempt to rework Bradford’s deal, making it easier to flip him to an interested party that’s willing to give him an extension beyond 2015.
The Titans, sitting at No. 2 with coach Ken Whisenhunt (an offensive-minded Bradford fan), is a partner to watch. As are the Jets, who were aggressive themselves in the first wave of trading and free agency, at No. 6. By moving Foles to the Rams, the Eagles have eliminated competition for Mariota at No. 10 overall.
Chris Burke of SI.com thinks signing Murray is a huge risk for the Eagles, but it could lead to high dividends:
This could be utter brilliance or a complete failure, so let’s drop in somewhere close to the middle. Even if his 2014 stats are unsustainable, Murray is a top-five back in the NFL. And he will be joining an offense that rewards backs who are decisive and versatile, of which he is both.
The flip side is that the Eagles went against the grain by handing over serious cash to a running back with a lot of miles on the odometer. The 2014 season was the first year in which Murray stayed on the field for all 16 games. There is also growing evidence that committing substantial money to a RB headed into his late-20s is a risky proposition these days. Twenty-one million bucks guaranteed is a huge chunk of change.