Or, at least, that’s how it was pitched by many. He had the pedigree, the talent, the chutzpah, the arm and the accuracy.
Indeed, Sam Bradford had it all, and the Eagles were lucky to have him – not to mention lucky to be rid of such a nondescript one-trick-pony as Nick Foles.
For all who would listen, that was the pitch by the Hope Squad, be they so-called unbiased observers or hard-core fans.
Many bought it. Many, in fact, still do.
Why, I have no idea … and never will.
An inability to share my distaste for Bradford has never been an issue. Saw him play in college at Oklahoma and, Heisman or not, thought he was a dink-and-dunker all the way. He had the same “deer in headlights” look then, too. What Eagles fans are fearing when they see the team’s, ahem, leader right now is nothing new.
It was comical to see Sunday’s Inquirer with a full-page spread on the cover of its sports section, “unearthing” the futility of Bradford in passing the ball further than the length of a couch. Well, it’s not like the evidence was lacking, or brought up – I hammered away with it the moment the QB flip-flop with St. Louis occurred. Westward went Foles with his 7.6 yards per attempt, being upgraded by Bradford’s 6.1 ypa. Um, that’s an upgrade?
Frankly, if you wanna pick at Foles and point at his flaws, be my guest. He has holes in his game, for sure. Just don’t point to Bradford as being a step up … or even one sideways. Foles’ career numbers blow away Bradford’s in every conceivable way, including the won-lost percentage.
If you ask me, I’d take current backup Mark Sanchez ahead of Bradford in a second. Then again, I always would have.
He was a no-doubter for me.
In a life that is putting the finishing touches on a fifth decade, four of them spent feeding a passion for football, rare is the individual who has come across the eyes behind these type-written words and caused a knee-jerk “can’t miss” reaction.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though, was one. In fact, more than any other player I’ve seen grace the gridiron at a level beneath the NFL, he was “the one.”
Oh, other players caught my fancy more. Flutie. Herschel. Marino. Dorsett. The former remains, to me, the single greatest force in college football. But not necessarily a sure-fire pro. Size was the issue there. The latter three, no issues. They were gonna be Sunday players, it was just to what quality that was open for debate.
For me, with Rodgers, there was no debate.
Being a nut for college ball, I was privy to his wondrous talents more than a decade ago when he and Marshawn Lynch and their coach at Cal, Jeff Tedford, were making Pete Carroll’s dynastic Southern Cal squads sweat out their Pac-10 supremacy far more than most were aware. The Bears split two games against the Trojans with Rodgers at the helm of Tedford’s offense, but, frankly, he was far away the most impressive player on the field each time – a field which housed the likes of USC’s Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and, of course, Lynch, his teammate.
Everything separated him, on individual and, even more so, collective terms. For instance, his arm was as strong as I’d seen, but with touch. Then you add the fact he could dissect a defense with his brain, and drain it with his legs, and, wow, I’d never seen that complete a package before – especially for a guy hoping to play at the next level.
Frankly, Michael Vick has the most physical gifts I’ve ever seen bestowed on a football player, never mind strictly a quarterback. But Rodgers had comparable ones, plus intangible and intellectual ones, pigskin wise, that Vick never had.
Honestly, I laughed when the “experts” tagged Leinart as the real QB star back in those days, the one destined for NFL greatness. The kid had size, sure, but he lacked arm strength. Big time. So, too, did the guy selected No. 1 in the 2005 NFL Draft: Alex Smith, whose “brainpower” was considered the driving force behind that choice.
Not for nothing, but the joke of that draft, which saw Rodgers fall to No. 24, was on full display Monday night, with Smith struggling to get anything right while Rodgers systematically picked apart Kansas City’s defense for 300-plus yards passing and five TDs.
The semantic debates now rage on, making sure to clarify that Rodgers may be the best in the game right at this moment, but that he can’t possibly be considered the best QB ever, not when current Patriots’ signal-caller Tom Brady already has four Super Bowl rings.
The team trophies raising an individual’s rank always has eluded me, but there is no denying Brady his due. If, indeed, Rodgers is No. 1 right now (and, by the way, he is and has been since 2008), then Brady is No. 1A.
Thing is, Brady hasn’t always played at the level he is playing now. Rodgers, pretty much, has since taking the reins from Brett Favre.
To me, Rodgers is the best now and the best that ever was. Better than Brady. Better than Montana. Better than Young. Better than Elway. Better than Marino.