There is a red flag.
Just one nagging, disconcerting, annoying thing for me directly falling at the feet of new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
Nah, it’s not his lack of NFL coaching experience. It’s not his connection to Andy Reid and any possible correlation that may have with time-management issues. It’s not even his apparent affinity for a hairstyle that retired sometime around 1987.
The thing that scares me, that frightens the bejeebers outta me when it comes to Pederson is his belief that Sam Bradford is a very good quarterback, the type of quarterback you can build a franchise around, the kind of quarterback who can carry a team to the promised land usually reserved for the likes of those who hang with the Tom Bradys, Ben Roethlisbergers and Eli Mannings of the world.
Not for nothing, but thinking like that will keep the Birds out of the actual gold-standard loop for a lot longer than Pederson’s tenure would last in town should the coach, owner and the as-yet-to-be-named player personnel head opt to pay Bradford to keep him here.
With a price tag of $25 mil per year, according to agent Tom Condon, Bradford should be off-limits for anyone with a working brain cell … you know, once they got finished chuckling over that number.
Look, for all the “improvement” he showed in the second half of the season, the former No. 1 pick checked in where he usually does among the NFL quarterbacking ranks – near the bottom. He finished 26th in passer rating, trailing not only the aforementioned Super Bowl-winning signal-callers, but the likes of forever-ridiculed Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith … by a lot.
Traded for Nick Foles in the offseason, Bradford was anointed the starting QB and a key ingredient to Chip Kelly’s restructuring of the roster to “take the next step,” you know, once a trade to land Marcus Mariota in the draft came up a crapper. Bradford directed the team to a 7-7 mark in games he played, and helped pave the way to Kelly’s implosion with a career high of interceptions per attempt.
In Year 6 in the league, did he look any better than he did as a rookie? Seriously …
The reality is, he’s an average to slightly above average NFL quarterback who, at best, will win half his games while throwing two picks for every three touchdowns he produces. He remains a china doll, too. For all the feel-goods floating around out there about how his left knee held up, Bradford still missed two games in 2015.
That brings his “did not play” total to 33 as a pro. Out of a possible 96.
But Pederson likes him. Heck, he loves him. Couldn’t stop gushing about him the other day.
To me, that’s frightening.
To me, that shows the new coach really doesn’t have a grasp on good or bad or all in between, that he certainly doesn’t have a grasp of what a difference maker looks like, and plays like.
A word to the wise: Give up the golden-goose chase with thinking Bradford will someday, magically, morph into the player his drafting status back in 2010 would suggest.
He’s nothing but a tease in that regard, and has been his whole pro career, doing just enough to keep hope alive in those interested.
So, let him go, spend the money more wisely and seek his long-term replacement in the upcoming draft.
Just as long as Pederson ain’t making the call there on who it is.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
A FAB FOUR?
The following is a list of the top QB prospects for the upcoming NFL draft, with a breakdown of what each brings to the table. The Eagles may make one of them their long-term answer at QB as opposed to incumbent Sam Bradford.
Particulars: 6-4, 215, junior, California
2015 stats: 4,714 yards, 43 TDs, 13 INTs, 161.3 rating
An early-enrollee at Cal, he became the first true freshman at the school to be the starting QB in his first game, and since then has set every Golden Bears record for single-game, season and career passing imaginable, even obliterating numbers that Aaron Rodgers posted. His 4,714 yards passing this past season was a Pac-12 record and helped pave the way to him being named first-team all-conference QB. Not incredibly mobile, he’s more the traditional pro-style QB. Good, not unbelievable, arm.
Particulars: 6-7, 245, junior, Memphis
2015 stats: 3,776 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs, 157.5 rating
After redshirting in 2012, Lynch started the last three seasons for the Tigers and carried them into the nation’s conscience the past two seasons, resulting in an extended stay in the rankings during 2015. Surprisingly nimble, if not downright smooth, for his height, Lynch is the most mobile of this group, having run for 17 TDs in his college career. He also has the biggest arm and best touch of the four, but if he’s 245, someone is tossing about a 20- to 30-pound bag on the scale with him.
Particulars: 6-6, 235, senior, North Dakota State
2015 stats: 1,651 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs, 152.3 rating
Wentz redshirted and then served as a backup for two seasons before getting the starting nod in 2014 and 2015, subsequently leading the Bison to their fourth and fifth straight FCS national titles. Despite an injury that cut his 2015 season in half, he did pass for 5,000 yards and rush for another 1,000 during his career. Factoring overall size and muscle, he’s definitely the biggest of the four here, but playing at a lower level and not exactly dominating it makes him tough to judge. Good arm, good feet.
Particulars: 6-4, 220, senior, Michigan State
2015 stats: 3,131 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs, 136.6 rating
He redshirted in 2011 and then served as a backup in 2012 before starting the last three seasons. If nothing else, Cook has proven to be a winner, leading the Spartans to a 36-5 record and three straight national top-6 finishes in his career. But, frankly, he doesn’t seem to have the arm, or the athletic ability to aide it, for meriting a spot in this group. He is very similar to Kirk Cousins, another Michigan State product who just excelled in the NFL during his fourth season in Washington.
Others to consider:
Truth be told, might prefer this list to the one above. Actually a believer in Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, who may be the most “prototype NFL QB” out there considering his natural talent to throw and, when need be, run. He’s big, too – a legit 6-4, 236 pounds, not a Sam Bradford 6-4, 236 pounds. If the Eagles didn’t use a first-round selection on any of the above, they might want to consider Hackenburg in the second … or Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, who, basically is Tim Tebow 2.0, not quite as big as the original but equipped with a more powerful arm. Cardale Jones would be intriguing in the middle rounds, given his tools and Cam Newton-ish size. But the vibe here is that he’s always going to be raw no matter how much experience he gains. Jake Coker, fresh off a national title-run with Alabama, is worthy of a flyer in the middle rounds, too, but the real sleeper, to me, is Louisiana Tech’s Jeff Driskel. Collateral damage during Will Muschamp’s nightmarish tenure at Florida, he re-emerged this past fall with a 4,000-yard, 27-TD season. He also happened to be the No. 1 pro-style QB prospect coming out of high school back in 2011.