Eagles Wake-Up Call: On the Pederson-Bradford Long Distance Relationship
The topic was free agency and Doug Pederson, wrapping up his session with the reporters following the Sam Bradford press conference, was explaining his role in the process. (Essentially, he studied the available players, weighed in with his opinion and helped put a game plan together of who to target.)
“Are you a good recruiter?” he was asked as he started to break from the pack.
“Well, Sam’s here, right?” he replied.
Multiple sources indicated that Pederson was key in getting Bradford to believe that Philly was a place he could thrive. During a one-on-one with the head coach Thursday, we asked how he went about that.
“Because he doesn’t really know me and I really don’t know him, I thought, ‘How do I connect with Sam?’ And I thought a great way was [us both being] quarterbacks and playing in this city and understanding the passion of this town.
“‘We’re going to bring a whole new vibe to the team,” Pederson told him. “‘You’re very familiar with a little bit of our terminology from when you were in St. Louis with Coach Shurmur. And I want you in Philadelphia. I know you’re a free agent, I know you have options out there, but at the end of the day, a lot of times the grass is not always greener on the other side. Do what you’ve gotta do to stay in Philadelphia.’ And I think he kind of listened and took that to heart because ultimately, he’s here.”
The relationship the two built up was of the long-distance variety. In fact, Pederson said the first time the two met face-to-face was Thursday when Bradford flew in to sign the contract and address the media.
“We were in an offensive staff meeting upstairs, the door was open, he came in and he reconnected to Stout [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] and all those guys,” said Pederson. “And it was a great connection. I felt like we knew each other for five years. It was good that way.
“Today is the first day I’ve met him. He’s been in Oklahoma in the offseason, and we’ve had phone conversations. I must be a good recruiter,” he added with a smile.
Pederson said there really wasn’t a whole lot of hard selling necessary. Bradford told the coach privately what he emphasized during his presser — that he wanted to return to the Eagles. But we shouldn’t pretend this was a slam dunk, either. There were negotiations to navigate, a vision to explain and some nerves to calm before everything could fall into place. He made sure that the message was consistent from top to bottom and from coach to coach — that Bradford had full organizational support.
“A lot of times it’s out of the player’s control but I reminded Sam, ‘At the end of the day you need to do what’s best for you and your family but just know that we want you here,” said Pederson. “Just know that.”
Those reassurances helped bolster Bradford’s belief that a return to trip to Philly was the right move.
“My conversations with Coach have been great. The fact that he played the position was a huge bonus for me. I think being able to have conversations with someone who has been on the field and has seen it from the quarterback’s perspective, I think that was huge,” Bradford said. “The fact that the offense is very similar to what we ran with Shurmur when I was in St. Louis was something that — obviously it’s going to be new, it’s going to be a transition, it’s going to take time, but it is something that I am familiar with.
“I think my familiarity with that type of offense and that system, and obviously his pedigree and him playing the position are why I really wanted to come back, too.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him.” Doug Pederson on DeMarco Murray, and more.
On Pederson, and the way the Eagles’ new head coach used fullbacks in Kansas City.
“It is easy to imagine Pederson falling for Lynch’s exciting upside.” Mock draft roundup.
“He did not do himself any favors at the combine.” Draft notes from ESPN’s Todd McShay.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Zach Berman of the Inquirer breaks down the Eagles’ most important pending free agents, including defensive lineman Cedric Thornton.
Another starter hitting the free-agent market is defensive lineman Cedric Thornton, a career Eagle who progressed from undrafted rookie to practice squad player to reserve to starter. Thornton, 27, started 45 games over the last three seasons at defensive end, and he would move to defensive tackle in the Eagles’ new 4-3 system. The team already has Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan as returning starters, so Thornton could find more playing time elsewhere.
At the end of the season, he did not know whether he would return to Philadelphia for a sixth year.
“I don’t feel like that’s a question that needs to be answered right now,” Thornton said then. “Do I like the Philadelphia organization? Yeah. I love it.”
Tommy Lawlor offers his take on Paxton Lynch, who might be available when the Eagles’ first round draft pick rolls around in late April.
I like Lynch quite a bit. He reminds me of a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Leaf. I’m sure many of you will go nuts when you read that second name, but that’s because you only know Leaf the NFL failure and troubled adult. While in college, he was a great player and a prospect I loved to watch. I was a huge fan of his Washington State teams. There was a reason many teams had him rated higher than Peyton Manning back in 1998. Leaf was incredibly gifted and had terrific upside.
Lynch did have some bad games this year. I need to study those carefully to get a better feel for what was his fault and what was due to playing better competition.
I generally don’t like tall QBs, but Lynch is different due to his athleticiam. He can move and he’s not afraid to run. I don’t want Drew Bledsoe sitting in the pocket and just taking a beating. I want a QB that can move around as well as standing tall in the pocket.
An emergency offseason edition on Press Coverage, and more.