Sam Bradford could learn a thing or two from Drew Brees

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 11, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) greet each other on the field after the game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 39-17. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles find themselves at the center of a Quarterback controversy. Sam Bradford is understandably angry at the Eagles’ decision to trade up to the second overall pick with the intention of drafting a Quarterback and his actions have repercussions that run far beyond financial implications. But this wasn’t what the Eagles wanted, in fact..it’s the complete opposite.

By now everybody knows that Doug Pederson wanted to bring in a Quarterback to let marinate in his system behind Bradford for at least one season and eventually take over the reigns of the Offense as the teams long term option. But that doesn’t mean that the Eagles didn’t have a plan for Sam Bradford other than effectively being a bridge Quarterback. But how Sam and the Eagles see this scenario is what’s causing such a damaging divide.

If you cast your minds back to the early 2000’s, an eerily similar situation unfolded. A young Quarterback by the name of Drew Brees took the San Diego Chargers to six wins out of seven in his first seven starts in 2002 before questions about his height and arm strength began to surface once again. A year later, Brees suffered his worst season to date. 11 Touchdowns and 15 Interceptions summed up what was a dismal season for Brees who was eventually replaced by Doug Flutie.

It was clear Brees had the potential and the Chargers already had a solid backup in Flutie..but in the 2004 NFL Draft they did something completely unexpected. After initially trading Eli Manning, the Chargers traded him to the Giants for Phillip Rivers. With a clear Quarterback competition in place and a new rookie to get behind, Brees became the underdog.

However when it came to training camp..there was only one clear starter. Brees took full advantage of the Rivers’ contract controversy and both his work ethic, dedication and overall performances shot through the roof in pre-season. The small Quarterback who everybody had written off for this laser-arm baring 6’5 signal caller was tearing Defenses apart.

When it came to the regular season, Brees continued to let the arrival and hype surrounding Phillip Rivers ignite a fire in his belly. Just one year after throwing four more interceptions than touchdowns, Brees threw 27 touchdowns and just 7 picks en route to attaining a QB rating of 104.70, the third highest in the entire league. He took the Chargers to their first division crown in ten years and was in turn named the NFL’s comeback player of the year.

What happened after this was history. The greed of two men in suits arguably placed Brees in a “garbage time” game he didn’t need to play in which resulted in an injury. The tension in the QB camp was at an all time high and the Chargers had to pull the trigger on trading one of their future franchise Quarterbacks away. The injury made the decision that much easier and both Quarterbacks went on to achieve great things. The story runs a lot deeper than this as many of you will know but the basic principals remain the same. Brees went on to win a Super Bowl in New Orleans and both QB’s have taken their teams to conference championship games.

Sam Bradford is coming off of a much better closing half to a season than Brees was prior to the 2004 Draft. He was also given a new two-year deal and even after being consistently named as the starter to the media, Bradford is still throwing his toys out of the pram.

Both Quarterbacks had plenty of question marks over their heads. From the height and average of 5 yards per pass completion in Drew Brees to the inconsistencies and injury woes that have plagued Bradford since the moment he set foot into the league, both have faced plenty of adversity. But the difference between Brees and Bradford..is how they dealt with it.

Drew Brees was coming off of a season in which he simply couldn’t deliver the type of Offense that the Chargers needed and in seeing a prototypical modern QB in Phillip Rivers walk in to Training Camp with the sensationalizing media continuing to hype up the first rounder was at a disadvantage. Brees delivered a training camp like no other and a season like no other. Proving a point that he is the guy for their franchise and he most likely would have been if he hadn’t fallen injured in that life changing game. He met the adversity and naysayers head on, continued to fight an uphill battle against a Quarterback who many regarded as the next Brett Favre and is now regarded as one of the best Quarterbacks in the modern era.

Sam Bradford was NAMED the starter and given a fresh contract in which he’s guaranteed to make $22 million. Chase Daniel signed as a backup and then the Eagles moved up to the second overall pick to take a Quarterback. Bradford wants to be in a position where if he plays well, he can become the long term guy. Like Brees in San Diego before him, he’s now faced with a choice. He can either continue to whine and let his Offense fall apart around him..or he can grit his teeth, get out there and prove that he can be the guy.

Bradford has never faced competition in training camp before. His backup Quarterbacks throughout his career?

Not exactly the most intimidating list of names you will ever read. The most intriguing thing? According to everyone in the Eagles organization, this isn’t even a competition. Bradford is their guy for the foreseeable future and beyond that is where the Eagles are building.

I’m not saying that Sam Bradford is wrong to request a trade. I posted an article last night defending his actions to an extent. But what I am saying is that with this kind of mentality, he will never be a great Quarterback or a great leader. Great leaders don’t throw a tantrum when things don’t go their way and let their team suffer due to acts of selfishness. Great leaders pick themselves up, grit their teeth, get on with their job and prove everybody wrong.

You could talk all day about the physical attributes or the achievements of Brees and state why Bradford would never be regarded in the same light. But the real reason why Sam Bradford will never be mentioned in the same vain as a Quarterback like Drew Brees is because in the face of adversity, one Quarterback gave everything he had to fight for a job that was slipping out of his grasp. The other is simply willing to let a secure job go up in smoke because he isn’t seen in the same way he sees himself. It will be apparent on the field in week one, it will be apparent in the record books. Sam Bradford is a good Quarterback, Drew Brees is a legendary one.

 

Photo credit:Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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