It doesn't seem like Sam Bradford was a huge fan of playing in Chip Kelly's offense last season. Earlier this month, the veteran quarterback subtly talked about how Kelly's scheme was predictable and unbalanced. Bradford once again highlighted the differences between the schemes of Kelly and Doug Pederson this week. In Pederson's offense, it's believed quarterbacks will have more ability to audible before the snap.
"There is a lot of freedom," Bradford explained. "Obviously, with that freedom there comes a lot of responsibility. You’re in charge of getting in to the right play, getting out of a bad play, you’re responsible for really everyone out there. Last year, with Chip [Kelly], obviously trying to play at the tempo that we did, it was hard to really do that. We chose tempo over that freedom.
"I think there’s benefits to each, but it is nice knowing that when you get to the line of scrimmage, [and] if you immediately know ‘Hey, this is not a good play into this look. This is a bad play for this coverage,’ that I have the ability to get us into something better. So hopefully with that freedom, there will be less negative plays. I think that’s kind of the goal when you play with this mentality."
Kelly's simplicity was good at dumbing things down for passers, which could explain why he was able to get good performances out of lesser quarterbacks such as Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, etc. Now Pederson is placing more responsibility on his quarterbacks.
"I put more on the quarterback in this system and it's kind of what I've been accustomed to, even when I was a player with Coach Reid, he put everything on the quarterback and we had to learn it that way," said Pederson.
The offensive complexity makes it more important than ever that the passers are smart. It also explains why the Eagles felt so attracted to the intelligence of rookie Carson Wentz and want to be patient with him. In the short-term, Philadelphia is trusting Bradford to run the offense and he's looking forward to the scheme change.
"Yeah, absolutely, I think that’s what every quarterback wants," said Bradford when asked if he likes having more pre-snap freedom. "You want the ability to get in and out of plays. You want the ability to make things right."
"Obviously it puts more pressure on you during the week to study, to know what the opponent’s going to do, to be ready for certain looks, and then to take advantage of those looks when they present themselves in the week."
Bradford noted one of the biggest changes to the pre-snap routine is his relationship with starting center Jason Kelce. The communication between the two is more important than ever.
"Last year, I basically had to react to what [Kelce] and the [offensive line] did up front where, this year, it’s more of a joint effort," Bradford said. "And I think me and him, more than we did last year, have to be on the same page as far as what we’re seeing."
The 28-year-old Bradford has been a career underachiever, so his 2015 struggles simply can't be explained away by Kelly's increasingly ineffective offense. Giving him more freedom at the line of scrimmage isn't likely to suddenly morph him into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, either. But at the very least it seems to be a system he's more welcome to running than the one he did last year.