By Sarah Berkowitz
Many Eagles fans aren’t yet sold on the notion that Sam Bradford is an upgrade at quarterback.
And they won’t be until they see him on the field, recovered from his latest ACL surgery (he has had two).
But one man has no doubts, and he happens to be the EagLes’ offensive coordinator.
“When the deal was getting made,” Pat Shurmur (above) said on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex, “I had my fingers crossed in the background it would get done.”
Shurmur’s and Bradford worked together in St. Louis during Bradford’s rookie season in 2010. Shurmur, who was the offensive coordinator at the time, coached Bradford to one of his best seasons in the NFL.
Under Shurmur, Bradford threw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, winning NFL offensive rookie of the year.
“I talked about the experience I had with Sam and I was able to offer some insight,” Shurmur said of how he advised head coach Chip Kelly during the trade. “How hard he worked, what he was like as a quarterback behind center. All of the little things.”
Shurmur also echoed the statement made by Kelly when the trade for Bradford went down.
“Had he been able to stay healthy,” Shurmur said, “he wouldn’t have been available to us.”
Bradford’s recovery from his latest ACL tear has been, by the quarterback’s own admission, slower than the first. Bradford just started taking part in team drills earlier this week, when he quarterbacked a seven-on-seven drill.
“Since (Bradford) has been here, he has made great strides in getting out here and competing,” Shurmur said. “We feel very confident that he’ll be ready when it’s time to play for real.”
With Bradford still not at 100% physically, the team has focused on helping their new quarterback learn the playbook.
“There are some concepts that are very similar to what we did in St. Louis,” Shurmur said. “He is a very smart player, he works very hard. He’s connected the dots already and know what we are doing.”
The Eagles are hoping that the swap of Bradford for Nick Foles will be an upgrade at quarterback. Foles took a step back last season, throwing 10 interceptions in eight games, and developing a habit of holding onto the ball too long. Holding onto the ball too long is one major reason Bradford is here and Foles is in St. Louis.
Bradford will get a chance to turn around his NFL career in an Eagles offense that has been quarterback friendly, and with the offensive coordinator in Shurmur that he has prospered under.
“He can function very well, he is very smart, he prepares and trains like all the great ones do, and he is an outstanding thrower,” Shurmur said of Bradford. “Not to mention he is a terrific athlete. There is three-prong challenge for him — get better physically, learn what we are doing mentally and then get out here on the field and do it tactically.”