Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bradford ‘Worth the Risk’

Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX, Ariz. — For all the talk of power structures and system fits at Jeffrey Lurie‘s press conference Tuesday, the Eagles owner never strayed far from this fundamental point:

“The only model to me that correlates to having big success in the NFL,” he said, “is having a Hall of Fame, franchise quarterback.”

Coming out of Oklahoma, there were many around the league who believed Sam Bradford could be the centerpiece of a winning organization — including members the Eagles brass, apparently.

“When he was scouted out of college, we thought – and this goes back to Andy (Reid) – we thought he was the best young quarterback we’d seen in a long, long time. Probably since Peyton Manning coming out of college,” said Lurie.

Bradford never rose to the level of the elite during his first five years in the league, in part because of injury. Betting that Bradford will suddenly stay upright and gain a form that has eluded him to this point in the pros is a big gamble. For Lurie and Kelly, it’s one worth making given the scarcity of top-flight quarterbacks.

“Sam’s injury is an ACL, and he’s rehabbing very hard from it,” Kelly told the NFL Network, “and it’s not something where you can say he’s brittle or this is his situation. But when you look at all the great quarterbacks: Peyton Manning has missed a year, Tom Brady has missed a year, Drew Brees has missed a year. We felt like to get a player of Sam’s caliber, it wouldn’t have happened unless he was injured, and we’re confident in our training staff and our strength and conditioning coaches that they can help him in his rehab and get him back to where he was when he was the top player in the draft.”

Added Lurie: “Our whole way of looking at it is not be satisfied with just 10-6, 10-6. It’s to try and go for it. You got to take risks to do that. It’s worth it to take the risk.

“The biggest issue in the NFL as we all know is can you get a franchise quarterback? OK, well, if Sam were healthy and followed that Rookie Of the Year and a consensus No. 1 pick, there’s no chance to trade for him. So you’ve got to take your risks when you can. And they may not work. And it may work.”


Lurie on the idea of mortgaging your future for a QB in the draft.

“It’s so defined in Chip’s system; I’ve never seen anything like it.” Lurie decides to back Kelly’s vision.

Which apparently didn’t include LeSean McCoy because he’s not a one-cut runner.

“He exhibits a lot of the qualities that I think are important to the position in the NFL.” Ken Whisenhunt sounds like a pretty big Marcus Mariota fan.

A “stunned” Rex Ryan explains how the McCoy trade went down.


Jeff McLane believes Lurie made the right call by backing Kelly.

“It’s a risk handing so much authority to one man, especially after Reid and Ray Rhodes fell short of winning championships after Lurie gave them almost as much control, but to quote the 19th century writer David Grayson, “We fail more often by timidity than by over-daring.”

Kelly has already proved to be a daring GM. He has let his starting quarterback, running back and No. 1 wide receiver leave this offseason and acquired a handful of players via free agency and trades who have been injury prone during their NFL careers. It may have been shocking to some, but Lurie said Kelly’s vision was clear.

“When we hired Chip, his style of play is very different than what we had before,” Lurie said. “. . . We had to over two years understand where we’re at: Where are we going to maximize Chip Kelly’s vision and system – or were we going to counteract it?”

Sal Paolantonio provided 97.5 The Fanatic with more details surrounding the Eagles-Bills trade.

“The Eagles [asked Buffalo] for either Kiko Alonso or wide receiver Robert Woods, or both. So [Ed] Marynowitz hangs up the phone after asking for that. [Bills GM Doug] Whaley hangs up the phone and goes back to Rex Ryan and says, ‘It’s Alonso or Woods…for McCoy. And they said, ‘We’ll give them Alonso one-for-one. One-for-one swap. Called Marynowitz back, there is a text exchange. Good to go: Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy. That was it. It took 30 minutes to get rid of clearly one of the best players in team history.”


Kelly sits down with us at the NFC Coaches breakfast for an hour. We’ll have all the details.