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August 12, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: The pressure is on Bradford

Eagles NFL

Of all the positions on the football field (and maybe in all of sports), quarterback carries the most pressure with it. So when Sam Bradford is listed as the signal caller of Sports Illustrated’s All-Prove It Team, it’s not a stretch to say the good folks at SI believe no NFL player is facing more pressure in 2015 than the Eagles quarterback:

No pressure, Sam, but the fate of the 2015 Eagles and possibly that of Chip Kelly as an NFL coach and personnel man rest on your shoulders. Or is it on your knees?

As part of the Great Chip Kelly Rebuild™, Philadelphia acquired Bradford in a trade with the Rams, fully expecting the former No. 1 pick to push its offense to the next level. Talent-wise, Bradford may be capable of doing so. Unfortunately, his history of injuries—including his latest torn ACL, which cost him the entire 2014 season—makes it tough to know which Bradford will show up.

As Chris Burke notes, there are a couple of other factors outside of health that might increase pressure on Bradford: 1. He could be playing for a whole lot of dough. 2. We saw the guy he was traded for put up video game numbers in the exact same offensive system just two years ago:

Bradford also has the little business of his next contract to hold his attention. Recent reports had the Eagles and their new QB working on a short-term extension, although nothing has yet been finalized.

Two seasons ago, the NFL got a glimpse of how Kelly's offense can help a quarterback when Nick Foles threw 27 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. Last season, the combination of Foles and Mark Sanchez showed why Kelly needed a better option to make his system work. Bradford could be the guy, and he has to be if the Eagles are to contend in the NFC East.

Tuesday recap

1. Jimmy’s practice notes: Marcus Smith doing some good things, Byron Maxwell talking about sleeves, and plenty more.

2. Slot corner: I wrote about what is shaping up to be an important position battle that will give Chip Kelly’s depth a serious test. Jaylen Watkins and Eric Rowe both received reps inside during Tuesday’s practice.

3. Rap sheet: If we’re going just by arrests, the Eagles have been a relatively well-behaved team over the last five years. #Culture

4. Divine intervention: Yeah, this isn’t happening.

What they’re saying

Winners and losers from second week of camp: Gregg Rosenthal,

The Birds showed up on both sides of the ledger according to Rosenthal. Let’s start with the good news, which he says is the play of Bradford:

Not only is Bradford practicing every day, he's starting to impress. Reporters at Eagles camp are talking up Bradford's accuracy and arm strength. He has taken every snap possible at camp and wrote that you can't even tell that Bradford is coming off an injury. He needs to stay healthy, but Bradford has given the Eagles a shot of optimism with a strong start to camp following some concerns during OTA season.

Then there is the bad, which Rosenthal classified as “Eagles trade luck”:

One week after dealing away slot cornerback Brandon Boykin, the top option to replace him, JaCorey Shepherd, was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Eagles defense looks vastly improved, but their questions at safety and slot cornerback threaten to sink their defense.

Eagles Players Say Chip Kelly's Dictatorial Style Is the Issue, Not Racism: Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report

Freeman talked to two anonymous African-American Eagles players. They both said that most of Kelly’s controversial moves this offseason had to do with control, not race. This was another quote that stood out, as well:

In an interview, one AFC head coach said he admired Kelly "for his innovations and smarts. He has already made an imprint on the game in just two years."

Then, the coach said, speaking not specifically of Kelly, but NFL coaching in general: "The biggest challenge as a coach isn't the X's and O's part of it. It's the relationship part. If you don't master that part of it in our league, you'll be dead."

Passing the Torch At Birds 24/7: Sheil Kapadia, Birds 24/7

That's the backstory. The news is that this is my final post at Birds 24/7. I'm moving on to pursue another opportunity - one that doesn't involve writing about the Eagles.

From a selfish standpoint, this one is a bummer. The Eagles are the team that generates the most interest in Philly by a mile (to Chip Kelly’s chagrin), which is why the Eagles beat is generally so good and competitive. Think about it: We’re doing these daily “What They’re Saying” style posts throughout training camp because there is so much friggin’ Eagles content.

Sheil became a must-read in a crowded marketplace, particularly with his All-22 work. In the long run, Philadelphia lost an original writer that taught us new things about the Eagles. Short-term, I’m just frustrated that I can’t link to any more of his posts until the Birds kick off in Atlanta.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann