Sam Bradford’s 2016 projected statistics: 16 starts, 498 passing attempts, 313 completions, 3,420 passing yards, averaging 230 passing yards a game, 20 passing touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
By Peter Gleason
The Eagles don’t open training camp for another 33 days — July 28 — but it is obvious that the most focus will be on quarterback Sam Bradford.
He may be a place holder for stud investment Carson Wentz. And this may be his last season as the starter.
Bu he is in for a big-time 2016!
Bradford again finds himself in a new offensive system. This seems to be a reoccurring pattern in his career, and he’s well aware of that.
Doug Pederson has already tagged Bradford as his starting quarterback, but hasn’t shut the door completely on a quarterback competition. However, it’s likely Bradford maintains the starting job, so the Eagles can stick to the developmental plan of Carson Wentz.
Bradford’s future with the Eagles will be short lived. The Eagles can easily get out of the two year/$35 million dollar deal, they signed him to in March, after this season. They’ll be forced to trade or release him, due to salary cap implications.
Pederson is re-installing a west coast offensive system. And the Eagles are very familiar with this system, having playing in it since Jon Gruden was offensive coordinator from 1995, all the way until former head coach Andy Reid’s firing in 2012.
Bradford is familiar with the system as well. He played in Pat Shurmur’s west coast offense in 2010, his rookie season with the former St.Louis Rams.
During the 2010 season, Bradford started all 16 games. He’s only done that one other time since then. He finished that season with 590 passes (career high), 354 completions (career high), 60.0 completion %, 3,512 passing yards, averaging 219.5 passing yards a game, 18 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. These numbers have been somewhat Bradford’s consistent quarterback statistics. His career high in passing touchdowns is 21. He was poised to have his best NFL season in 2013, but it ended seven games into it. He tore his ACL missing the final nine games of the season, but passing for 14 touchdowns, and only throwing four interceptions.
Bradford missed the entire 2014 season, again rehabbing an ACL tear. He was then traded to the Eagles in the beginning for the 2015 offseason. He wasn’t involved in team’s OTA’s or minicamp practices, and was limited during training camp. The lack of chemistry he had in Chip Kelly’s offense, showed early in the 2015 season. The offense was a disaster and unfortunately, the quarterback shouldered most of the blame as usual.
He started 14 games last season, missing two with a shoulder injury. He finished the season with 532 passes, 346 completions, 65.0 completion % (career high), 3,725 passing yards (career high), averaging 266.1 passing yards a game (career high), 19 passing touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. His final seven game stretch was the vocal point to many Eagles fans wanting to keep Bradford. He had a 68.2 completion % and 10 passing touchdowns, during that stretch.
As you can see, Bradford has proven to be an average quarterback so far in his career. Another huge reason why the Eagles forced their way up the draft order, to acquire top quarterback prospect Carson Wentz. But in Pederson’s west coast offense, Bradford can afford to play average.
The Eagles are poised to lean on their defense this season, which is something unheard of under ex-head coach Chip Kelly. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, has been labeled a ‘game manager’ his whole career. He doesn’t take risks, he thrives in the short passing game, and he makes it work. The Chiefs rely on their rushing attack and their defense. The passing game just compliments it.
Pederson should continue that tradition in Philly, during Bradford’s starting stint.
A huge reason why, is because of wide receiver drops. Drops have hindered Bradford’s career, dating back to his collegiate days at Oklahoma. The Eagles led the league in drops last season.
During Bradford’s NFL career, his team finished in the top 6 in drops every season, but one as a starter. Many have speculated it’s because Bradford hasn’t ever played with elite talent at wide receiver, which is true. But the fact is Bradford is a horrible touch passer. The drops should continue, while he’s the starting quarterback.
The Eagles can certainly win with Bradford, they’ve proven that. Through all the inconsistencies, injuries and lack of a running attack, the Eagles still won seven games last season. Bradford was 7-1 as a starter, when the Eagles rushed for over 100 yards. The uncertainty surrounding the position concerns most fans, but the group should improve in the west coast offense, and an improved offensive line. Bradford being a game manager, relying on the defense to keep games close and an improved rushing attack, should work out for him.