The Eagles made a surprising move last week when they traded away Nick Foles and draft picks to acquire former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. The trade wasn't very popular with Eagles fans at the time but it seems some have warmed up to the move since then.
1) What was the consensus reaction to the Sam Bradford - Nick Foles trade from the perspective of a Rams fan? Are St. Louis fans happy with the deal?
Overall, yes. There's a bit of despondence that a player with so much promise and potential never really got over the hump, whether it was coaching, surrounding talent, injuries or an inability to rise above it all (or, as I would probably argue, a combination of all four). Bradford's skill set is so impressive. When he puts it together on the field, he's got the makeup of what should be a very successful NFL quarterback. But that he has missed more than a third of his potential starts in the NFL (including the last year and a half putting it at 49 out of 80) and even when playing led the Rams to just an 18-30-1 record as a starter, it was time to move on. That the Rams got an option to move on to immediately in Nick Foles (and that future 2nd rounder) softens the blow.
2) What are Bradford’s biggest strengths and weaknesses? (Besides durability?)
Biggest strength is accuracy by far. He's able to go pretty deep into the intermediate range on the tree without losing much, if any, accuracy. Really impressive from 15-30. His arm strength isn't top tier, so he can't go extremely deep and doesn't have a ton of drive on his passes so he needs a slightly bigger window than your cannon-armed guys. His biggest negative with the Rams, though, was risk aversion. The Rams ran a HIGHLY contracted offense under Pat Shurmur and Brian Schottenheimer that saw Bradford's passing range heavily weighted on passes near the offensive line, including a reliance (and I'd argue overreliance) on dump-offs that avoided testing opposing secondaries, though 3 yard gains on 3rd & 6 don't really make up a winning formula. Part of it was personnel as well. Danny Amendola was the Rams' best receiver for years, and he was clearly more useful underneath. But as the Rams began to stock up their WR corps to move beyond the pre-Bradford options and develop a new group, the dumpoffs and short gains in favor of avoiding mistakes downfield or incurring pressure/sacks at the cost of bigger passing plays held the offense back big time. In 2012, his last full season for the Rams, Bradford was 26th in yards per attempt. Nick Foles was 29th that season. In 2013, Foles' 9.12 Y/A rate was best in the league. Bradford's 6.44 was fourth-worst.
3) How much of Bradford’s struggles in St. Louis are due to a lackluster supporting cast in terms of both players and coaches?
This one's so hard to unpack, but the bottom line is that it was a significant factor. The offensive line, the wide receivers..........Brian Schottenheimer...... There's no way to argue that Bradford certainly had factors working against him. But there's also no argument that he just wasn't productive enough. Nobody was seriously arguing he should have been a top 8 QB. But he was in the bottom half (and that's being nice) overall throughout his healthy time. That just isn't sufficient for his skill set. So, as is the case with football, there's no one thing to point at. It's too complex to simplify. But Bradford's own under-performance certainly factors into that complexity.
4) How do you see Bradford’s career playing out from here?
All depends on health. The Rams didn't expect him to re-injure his ACL just two games into his 2014 preseason. They didn't expect him to injure it the first time against Carolina midway through 2013. If you go back to the 2010 NFL Draft, the real issue was his injured shoulder that forced him to miss most of his last season at Oklahoma. That that injury is so far behind in the rear-view mirror tells you how significant his NFL injury rap sheet is. That's the real concern for the Eagles. If he's healthy, there's no reason he can't flourish in Philly. If he's not, well, the Rams moved on. Eagles will too.
5) To what extent can a team legitimately contend for championship with a healthy Bradford at quarterback?
Hehe, again it goes back to #4. Can you rely on him to get you through a 16-game season and through the playoffs? Carson Palmer helped turn around an Arizona team that went 5-11 in 2012 and won double digit games in each of the last two seasons. But by the time Arizona got to the postseason last year, Palmer was on the sideline and Ryan Lindley was quarterbacking for Arizona against Carolina. There was just no chance. The question really comes down to reliance on his health and what that costs you. As you guys are well aware, Bradford is an EXPENSIVE 2015 holding. To commit $13m to him limits what you can do elsewhere on the roster, let alone at QB. Does that limitation keep you from contending for a championship? Does the reliance you have to place on him being able to play hold you back? It has for the Rams for the last two seasons. If he's able to get on the field for you guys, a postseason run is certainly possible. That's a big if.