The Eagles are rapidly becoming the “Game Of Thrones” of the NFL. One moment your favorite player is referred to as a starter and the next he’s handing in trade requests. Roster purges, coaching restructures and the fall and rise of Howie Roseman portray the Eagles in a dramatic fashion..but it’s a fashion that could continue deep into 2016 if the team can’t resolve the Sam Bradford situation.
It was reported today that the Eagles starting Quarterback has requested a trade and will not be present for the team’s off-season program. The reason? Bradford is evidently upset that the Eagles have traded up to the second overall pick in order to draft a Quarterback who they regard as the long term option. The move by Bradford is a controversial one when you take all things into account and a move that could cost the Eagles more than just the cap hit.
It’s easy to take a Belichick “Do your job” approach when talking about NFL Players, but it’s not always as easy as that. They aren’t robots who will perform as expected of them regardless of their surroundings or external issues, they have emotions. Anyone who can’t understand why Sam Bradford would at the very least be angry at the Eagles decision to move up for a Quarterback simply doesn’t understand this.
For an NFL team to be successful, the players have to fully trust their coaches and staff. When they don’t, things begin to fall apart and in todays world..it certainly doesn’t take long for the cracks to show. Chip Kelly’s demise in 2015 is a prime example. The players lost the trust in their Head Coach and the team began to fall apart from the inside out.
It’s been a rocky few months for the Eagles and just as things were beginning to settle, the most important position on the team now has a dark cloud looming over it. This doesn’t only impact Bradford, it impacts everyone on the Offense.
The common response to this entire situation is that
“Bradford knew what he signed up for, the Eagles weren’t exactly private about their aspirations, he should get on with it”.
Yes…and no. The deal constructed by the Eagles and Bradford was tailored to the needs of both parties. Roseman is a ferocious negotiator and Condon is a man who sees a lot of value in Bradford. The Eagles didn’t have the finances to offer Bradford the deal he wanted and attend to other needs, but by ladening the deal with incentives and essentially putting him in another “do-or-die” scenario, he was able to retain his role as a starter and avoid yet another drastic Offensive scheme change.
In moving up for the second overall pick, the Eagles aren’t just saying “Bradford isn’t our long term starter”, but they’re neglecting to add some first round talent to really help push the Offense in the right direction, instead investing in a Quarterback and an Offense of the future.
Sam Bradford may be the starter for this season, but the Eagles have their sights set on a different era altogether and if the team are prepared to focus their efforts on the future as opposed to the present, why would Bradford’s attitude be any different?
Then there are his teammates, most of whom have shown the utmost confidence in Bradford and his abilities since he threw his first pass as an Eagle. Especially top targets Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz who have not only alluded to the placed trust they have in Sam Bradford numerous times but even travelled to Oklahoma for a week to workout with him. The chemistry the trio have built up is exactly what is needed to succeed in the NFL.
Even if Bradford’s trade request is rejected (which it most likely will be), you have to feel that the chemistry is going to take a hit. The receivers, the tight-ends, the running backs will all likely begin to question their own personal situation and their confidence in Bradford will likely also take a knock. If there’s one thing this team needs more than anything..more than a running back or a franchise signal caller, more than a Lineman or a CB…it’s stability.
A Quarterback is more than a player, he’s a leader. How can Sam Bradford lead a team who are all fully aware his time is running out and there’s not much he can do about it? How Can Bradford rally an Offense knowing that when he looks across from him, his replacement is sat..studying every game, every throw, every catch?
The Offense had finally found its heart in the final games of the season. Sure Pat Shurmur may not have been the best candidate to replace Chip Kelly, but the players showed the fire that had lacked all season as a huge weight appeared to be lifted from their shoulders. This new era was supposed to continue this development and help the Eagles rekindle the spark that once took them to consistent playoff appearances. That fire may have just been extinguished.