Up next on my Philadelphia Eagles Breakout Candidate mini series is starting quarterback Sam Bradford. In this mini series, I’ll discuss each player that has a chance to breakout next season and give my thoughts on whether I think they will breakout or not. An average player may breakout by earning substantial playing time and taking his opportunity whereas a good player may breakout by becoming great.
I have previously looked at Josh Huff, Marcus Smith and Brandon Graham and you can find them here. This time I’ll look at Sam Bradford, a former first overall pick who hasn’t panned out so far. Bradford was surrounded by a poor receiving group and a bad offensive line during his time in St. Louis but he still didn’t perform like a great quarterback should. Now in Philadelphia, Bradford has a great chance to change how he is viewed around the league.
Why he will breakout:
He’s an extremely talented quarterback who will be playing in a quarterback friendly offense. He will not be asked to throw the ball 50 times a game either as the Eagles running game will be the staple of the offense. Bradford will be able to have a lot of success with play action too if the Eagles running game is as good as expected. I expect the running game to take the pressure off of Bradford and let him settle early on in the season while he gets used to the offense.
Quarterbacks who play under Chip Kelly seem to do extremely well. Chip has made below average quarterbacks such as Nick Foles, Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez look good to an extent. Eagles quarterbacks have combined to average nearly 4500 yards and 30 touchdowns a year seem Chip became head coach. Bradford’s best ever season saw him throw for 21 touchdowns and 3702 yards, his statistics should dramatically improve.
However, just playing quarterback for the Eagles doesn’t automatically make you good. Foles looked bad last year, Sanchez didn’t look good towards the end of last season and Vick had some terrible games in 2013. Bradford is a better quarterback than any of those three players though. Watching tape on Bradford is almost unbearable because his surrounding talent is so bad. The Eagles should have a much better receiving core next year than the Rams ever had with Bradford there.
Why he won’t breakout:
Great quarterbacks should make the players around them better. Bradford never done that in St. Louis, whilst it is unfair to only blame him for the offensive struggles he didn’t move the offense. Does this mean that Bradford isn’t actually a great quarterback then? Coaches love his talent and his big arm but he hasn’t shown that he’s a top level quarterback yet. If Bradford isn’t really as good as expected, there’s no guarantee he’ll breakout just because of the offense.
The Eagles receiving core might not be as good as we think. If Nelson Agholor isn’t good straight away, the Eagles may rely on Jordan Matthews too much. No one mentions Jeremy Maclin anymore but there is a good chance the Eagles really miss him next year. Also, Bradford could play well and still not breakout. It’s possible the Eagles will run the ball a lot this year and the passing game may not be up the crazy statistics that they have previously put up under Chip.
Sadly we can’t talk about Bradford without talking about his health, you can’t breakout if you’re injured. Even if Bradford does not suffer a serious injury this season, it is possible that he will not recover from his two ACL’s both mentally and physically. If his previous injuries affect him mentally and he becomes scared in the pocket, he will not be the same quarterback he was. It is impossible to know how Bradford will react when he starts taking hits in the pocket until it happens.
Forget breaking out, I would be surprised if Sam Bradford was not comeback player of the year. Yes he may start the season slow but once he feels more comfortable with his knee he should light it up in this offense. Unless he suffers a serious injury I cannot see how he doesn’t breakout in this offense. It fits him perfectly and the running game will help him a lot. My only concern is the depth on the offensive line could harm Bradford as he will need to be protected well early on and the Eagles receiving core may not be as good as some expect this year.
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