Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bradford, Brees And A Shot Taken
This past offseason, Chip Kelly took a number of shots and left nary a safety net to catch him if he happened to fall.
The biggest shot he took was trading Nick Foles and picks to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, a quarterback with a higher perceived ceiling than Foles but plenty of uncertainty surrounding his health and ability to perform in the NFL.
Time and again, Kelly has referred to the New Orleans Saints’ decision to take a similar shot in the dark in the 2006 offseason when they decided to pursue free agent Drew Brees, who was just two months removed from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
Brees’ future in football was uncertain at best in the months between his injury, his surgery, and his signing with the Saints. The Miami Dolphins had interest in signing Brees that same offseason, but team doctors warned against it.
The Saints, fresh off a dismal 3-13 season, had a new head coach in Sean Payton and a fresh sense of purpose after playing away from New Orleans during the 2005 season because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Payton and the Saints had the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 Draft, the head coach said in a conference call Wednesday, and were extensively studying prospective quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Vince Young at the NFL Combine in February.
When he and his team left the Combine and headed home, Payton said, he received word that Brees and the Chargers were parting ways.
So he made a decision.
He thought Brees could be something special if he healed right, so the Saints started gathering information on the injury.
“I think ultimately we felt as an organization that, if someone was going to be able to recover from that type of injury, it would be someone with Drew’s makeup,” Payton said. “He was very diligent, he’s an extremely detailed and hard worker.”
Payton also said the team felt an increased sense of urgency to make a big move, to jump start the franchise, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with a chance to invigorate a fan base regaining its team after a year and a tragedy. Brees proved Payton and the Saints right three years after they signed him, going out and winning a Super Bowl.
Kelly studied that situation, he said, before rolling the dice on Bradford.
“I’m sure you’ve heard, [head coach at the University of Alabama Nick Saban] has even commented on what his career would have been like in Miami if they had taken Drew as opposed to not taking Drew,” Kelly said Wednesday. “You look at the impact that he had.
“It’s a specific case, but I think it is the impact he has had, not only in this league, but in terms of what he has done. He has won them a Super Bowl, he is a Hall of Fame quarterback.”
As Payton pointed out, there’s an uncertainty in going all-in on a question mark. But if you’re serious about making a leap, that shot is likely worth taking.
Once executed, all you can do is let it play out and hope that you got it right.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Jason Peters continues to battle through a quad injury ahead of Sunday’s meeting with the Saints.
“I don’t like him because he’s a fraud.” What they’re saying about Kelly and the Eagles.
Josh examines Sam Bradford‘s best game of the season, and the quarterback’s progression so far.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick offered up his take on Kelly’s third year with the Eagles, from Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.
“This thing is a powder keg ready to blow up, because as you guys know, you talk to the players, I’ve done their games, even when they’re 10-6 the last two years, the players aren’t real fond of the way they do business and the way they practice. They feel like they’re being treated like college players.
“When you’re winning 10 games, you’re not going to rock the boat. But if this continues, much like the players that have gone, we’re going to start hearing the chipping away from within with the players, and unfortunately it’ll be under the ‘anonymous’ tag to begin with. But some of the things, whether it be the way they don’t get a day off or the practice structure, or how they eat, they way they’re micromanaged the way Chip Kelly does it, this was going to be the new way. So this starts to begin to unravel.”
Considering how often they’ve been on the field, the Eagles’ defense has been one of the league’s best, writes CSN Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank.
It’s not very accurate to measure the Eagles’ defense in terms of yards per game or points per game, considering how much that unit has been forced to play.
Thanks mainly to the inconsistencies of the Eagles’ offense — which is second-to-last in the NFL converting third downs — the Eagles’ defense has played more than 37 minutes per game so far.
Just a month into the season they’ve already played 28½ minutes more than the average NFL defense.
Or about one full game.
Kelly speaks at 11:45 before practice. An All-22 coming your way on the offensive line.