Kelly and the Birds traded away Nick Foles, a young quarterback, who had led the team to the playoffs while putting together one of the best single-season statistical performances by a quarterback in NFL history. In 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, while playing himself into the Pro Bowl. Kelly and the Birds also included a 2016 second round draft pick as part of the deal.
Front office people throughout the NFL were shocked at the move. Foles wasn’t regarded as a proven NFL Superstar, but he had put together a great season in 2013 and then come back in 2014 and led the Birds to a 6-2 recording before going down with a broken collarbone. Bradford on the other hand has been injured much of his time in the NFL and when he hasn’t been injured, he hasn’t been anything special.
Kelly believes the combination of his offensive design, the team’s sports science program and a month or two of intense Chip Kelly style practices will get Bradford ready to shock the rest of the NFL. Bradford stayed in Philadelphia, so he can continue the rehab program. He will be here and doing his rehab work until training camp starts.
You can understand why Kelly is so eager to get Bradford fully healthy and on the football field preparing for the 2015 season. When asked whether Bradford would be ready to 11-on-11 at the start of training camp, Kelly replied, “God we hope so.”
“If I’m not ready for 11-on-11 by training camp something has gone terribly wrong”, Bradford said during mini-camp. So yes, it’s likely that Bradford will be ready to go on August 2nd when the Birds start training camp, but it isn’t a guarantee. Setbacks during the rehabilitation are not unusual, so we’ll see how it goes.
The reason they kept him out of the full team drills because they don’t want an offensive lineman or defensive player to accidentally roll onto his injured leg. They wanted to let that leg get stronger, then throw him back out there in training camp.
One would figure that Bradford would be eager to prove Kelly and the Eagles brass right for making the decision to acquire him, so he would be pushing himself to get back out there. One would think he would definitely be ready to start training camp doing everything, but that might not be the case.
Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com points this out in his article about the goals of Bradford and the Eagles being in two different areas in 2015. If Bradford were to take his time about getting back in action and not be ready to play until the middle of the season, it would put a great deal of pressure on Kelly and the Eagles, but it might be a smart decision for Bradford and and his agent Tom Condon.
Bradford has already made it clear that he doesn’t want to rush back out there because that’s what he did after the 2013 injury and he re-injured the same leg before the 2014 season began. Yes, he got hurt in a meaningless preseason game and it cost him the season. You can believe that his coach at the time, Jeff Fisher, was eager for him to get back out there. Bradford is going to let that happen this time around, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes extra-slow.
Another injury and the rest of the NFL might be done with Bradford. The truth of the matter is that if Bradford were to sit out the entire 2015 season and be healthy and ready to go for 2016, there are plenty of NFL teams who would standing in line trying to sign him for the 2016 season.
Bradford needs to return to action when he’s healthy and ready to go, but when is that time and who should be the one to make that decision.
How much should Chip Kelly push Bradford to get out there at the start of training camp? Will Bradford continue to just do the 7-on-7 at the start of training camp or will he start training camp doing everything, the 7-on-7 and the full team periods?
If Bradford gets banged up during the season, how will it be dealt with. You know Bradford is eager to get healthy and stay healthy, but Kelly’s main focus is on winning. Maybe we will see Mark Sanchez come on the scene.
How should Chip Kelly handle this? Should he push Bradford to return or should he leave everything up to Bradford, the doctor and trainer? Should he treat Bradford like he did young injured safety Earl Wolff? Kelly called Wolff out during a news conference for not getting back out there despite being cleared by the doctors.
I’ll be interested in seeing how they work this out and whether everybody is able to stay on the same page. There’s a lot on the line for both parties. Kelly has his NFL career on the line and Bradford has his NFL career on the line.
If he’s not ready to have a full-go practice on August 2nd on in the near future, it could delay his return to action and the starting job until the middle of the season. Let’s say he returns to action in the middle of the regular season, plays well during that stretch and stays healthy, he will be in position to sign another multimillion dollar multi-year contract.
Condon knows that staying healthy is more important to Bradford’s career than coming back quickly and playing the entire season. Returning to action in the middle of the season and playing okay, then finishing the season healthy is better for Bradford than coming back at the start of the season, playing great, then getting hurt again.
Bradford taking his time to come back to action might not be the best thing for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, but it might be the best move for the former number one pick and his agent.