CHIP Kelly can’t bench QB Sam Bradford, so you may as well get used to the idea of him as your starting QB for 2015. Remember when Kelly said “Peyton Manning switched teams because of an injury. Drew Brees switched teams because of an injury. So we went down that path.”. Does it feel like we got a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees, to you?
The problem with that is that Bradford isn’t playing anything like those QBs. Even if you adjust for drops, he still looks to check the ball down, still stares down his receivers, and even former Eagles RB Brian Westbrook says he looks tentative out there. He simply lacks the swagger or heart of someone who should be a leader of men.
Circumstances however, make Bradford virtually unbenchable. If he’s benched and we don’t make the playoffs, fans won’t be the only ones to question whether or not Chip Kelly has too much say in personnel issues. Jeff Lurie handed Kelly a great deal of rope to either climb with or hang himself with. Meanwhile we’re 1-2 due primarily to problems on the side of the ball that Kelly himself specializes in.
Look, most fans (and not just Eagles fans) understand that Kelly brought Bradford here to attempt to package and trade him to some team (Tampa Bay or Tennessee) to move up in the 2015 Draft and then select QB Marcus Mariota. There’s more to that, but long story short the move blew up in Kelly’s face and we got stuck with an oft-injured, $13M lemon, on the last leg (no pun intended) of his rookie deal. We’re essentially renting a taxi at Lamborghini prices.
Could Kelly have sat $13M of Jeff Lurie’s money to let Mark Sanchez open as our Week One starter and lead us to 8-8 or 9-7? Of course not. Even if we went 10-6 with Sanchez, Eagles fans would wonder about “what Bradford could have done if given the chance”. In fact anything short of 12-4 with Sanchez would likely precipitate that question. And don’t even mention what people would say if we missed the playoffs behind Sanchez. So the money says to start Sam Bradford; and getting ahead of public perception says to start Sam Bradford.
So Kelly is stuck with starting Sam Bradford. And we’re stuck with watching it.
Trading away the starting QB (Nick Foles) that he was winning with, for a fragile checkdown artist was bad enough. But if Kelly kept him on the bench for 1/10th of the teams salary cap, it would be a major step towards showing that he can’t evaluate talent. That means Kelly has to keep Bradford on the field in hopes that he can salvage some value from the Foles/Bradford trade. That also means that Kelly has to keep lying about being happy with Bradford’s performance even though there is no way he can be.
What that means is that you can expect to see Bradford out there for the remainder of 2015. Kind of sucking and being underwhelming won’t be enough to sit him down. To see Sanchez start a game this year you’ll need one of three things to happen:
- Scenario One: Bradford gets injured. Doesn’t have to be long-term, just one that lasts long enough for Sanchez to win a couple games and remotely justify Kelly “going with the hot hand”.
- Scenario Two: Bradford melts down in consecutive games. I mean like throwing 3 picks in back to back games, or arguing with Kelly on the sideline, or going full-blown Jim Everett and the Phantom Sack. Something on that level.
- Scenario Three: Week 12 or 13 is here but the NFC East is still a tight race, Bradford has been treading water and so Lurie flat out tells Kelly to play Sanchez. (This is almost entirely unlikely, but I’d be remiss not to mention it, because although remote, stranger things have happened.)
Barring those three situations you can pretty much count on a steady diet of passes under 8 yards, 20 passes per game thrown in the direction of WR Jordan Matthews, and WR Neslon Agholor being invisible for yet another week. And the whole time while you suffer and grit your teeth this year, keep in mind that nobody, not the fans, not Sanchez, not the WR’s, wants Bradford to ride pine as much as Chip Kelly does; but he can’t just bench Bradford. He pissed in the bed he made, and now he has to lie in it.