By Jack Ryan
I suppose there are still members of the lame-ass local media who will doubt that Chip Kelly knew what he was doing.
You remember those days in March (in fact up until last week) when radio blowhards like Josh Innes were chirping that if Sam Bradford’s knees don’t hold up the Eagles will have a mediocre season and Kelly will go scurrying back to a college job.
If you watched the Eagles’ 39-26 blowout of the Packers last night, you realize just what Kelly saw when he traded for Bradford.
And how much better he is than anyone the Eagles have thrown in at QB since Donovan McNabb left.
Kelly has said he didn’t feel that Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez gave him the kind of quarterback play that could compete for a Super Bowl. So he traded Foles and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams for Bradford.
The Rams had given up on Bradford, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft, as a franchise quarterback. Bradford tore the ACL in his left knee twice, ending his 2013 and 2014 seasons. Kelly has said that franchise quarterbacks don’t change teams unless injuries are in the mix. He has cited Drew Brees and Peyton Manning as precedents.
In last week’s preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens, Bradford made his Eagles debut. He played a total of 14 snaps, completing 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards on a touchdown drive. But Bradford also took a shot at the knees from Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Throughout the week, Kelly wouldn’t commit to Bradford playing against Green Bay. But it seemed clear that Bradford needed the work. The shot from Suggs was a worrisome reminder of Bradford’s history, but it was also a sign that Bradford needed to get more comfortable in the pocket at game speed.
Against the Packers, Bradford looked much more comfortable. His second touchdown pass, to tight end Trey Burton, was a case in point. The Packers blitzed from the defensive left side. Bradford stayed in against the blitz, waiting for Burton to get free. He fired the pass as he was taken down by a defender.
For Bradford, it was probably the end of his preseason work. The Eagles play theNew York Jets Thursday night in their preseason finale. There’s a good chance the starters will mostly sit that game out.
With the Eagles set to open the regular season in Atlanta on Sept. 14, Bradford not only looked ready to be their starting quarterback, he looked an awful lot like Aaron Rodgers.