Doug Pederson is entering his first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, inheriting an offense that last year mightily underachieved its Super Bowl aspirations.
Gone is Chip Kelly, but the offensive roster that got a major overhaul last offseason remains largely intact.
The new head coach elaborated on why Bradford, who has played only two full seasons since being drafted in 2010, remains Philly’s answer under center, per a report published Thursday by Josh Paunil of Philadelphia Magazine:
His best days are ahead of him. What he did toward the end of the season last year, building on that. He mentioned continuity—he knows the team, he knows the players. It might be a little different set of plays that we're installing, but he knows the guys. That right there leads me to believe that we can have success.
Bradford missed two games in November with a shoulder injury and a concussion, yet he finished with a career-high 3,725 passing yards. But he also tallied 17 turnovers—tied for the most since his rookie season.
Pederson believes Bradford might have been a victim of Kelly’s uptempo offense, which the new head coach plans to overhaul.
Pederson pointed out how well Bradford played in the final week of the season against the New York Giants, completing 30 of 38 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in arguably his best outing of 2015.
That game plan was devised by former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and allowed Bradford more control at the line of scrimmage.
Pederson plans to install a similar scheme that will allow Bradford freedom to adjust to defenses, which he believes the quarterback will thrive in, per Paunil:
That's a big weapon in today's football, because defenses are so complex nowadays. Not so much audibles and checks, but just subtle things that can really make a big difference in the course of a football game. He's accustomed to that, he's been used to that. He's an extremely sharp guy, intelligent guy. Offensively, we'll benefit from having his mind.
"It's great to have your head coach want you and express that to you in so many ways," Bradford said Thursday, per Dave Spadaro of the team’s website. "I'm so excited about being here."
His teammate DeMarco Murray reportedly doesn't feel the same.
"I don't know. I haven't talked to him," Pederson said, per Paunil. "I can't tell you one way or the other if he is or not. I'd love to have him.”
Murray is entering the second year of a five-year, $40 million contract that has $21 million guaranteed, per Spotrac. He collected only $5 million last year, leaving quite a tab for a possible trade suitor to pick up.
CBS Sports outlined how difficult it would be for Philly to strike a trade for the running back after Murray finished with a career-low 3.6 yards per carry for 702 yards and six touchdowns in 2015:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated why Pederson hasn’t maintained communication with his star running back:
Every coach has his own style, but amid lingering chatter that Murray would like to leave, common sense suggests that, if Pederson really wants Murray, Pederson would have delivered that message to Murray, through a phone call. Without that, Pederson saying 'I’d love to have him' could essentially mean 'I need to say I’d love to have him because I’d love to maximize what I get for him.'
Moving Murray could prove difficult, and both parties may have to stand pat for the foreseeable future. But it took only nine wins to claim the NFC East title last year, and Philly seems to have the talent to contend if Murray can regain his superstar form.
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