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November 08, 2017

Some thoughts on Sleevie Wonder (Sam Bradford), now that he's done for the season

Eagles NFL

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, of course, is officially done for the rest of the regular season after the Vikes placed him on IR with, um, the knees of a 90-year-old?

Technically, Bradford could return after eight weeks, which would mean he could return for the playoffs, but that is widely viewed as highly unlikely.

In September of 2016, the Eagles made a trade that may have altered the course of franchise history, when they dealt Bradford to the Vikings for first- and fourth-round picks. The first round pick would eventually become DE Derek Barnett. The Eagles also already traded one of their three fourth round picks that might end up being the one from the Vikings (you can see the nitty-gritty details of that here) for Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi.

Perhaps more importantly, the Bradford trade paved the way for Carson Wentz to start as a rookie. Wentz ended up attempting 607 passes as rookie, which is not conducive to winning, but was very valuable for his progression. Had he not gotten a full season of experience, would Wentz be having the MVP-like season that he's having in 2017? Almost certainly not, in my view.

From the Vikings' perspective, after they lost Teddy Bridgewater for the 2016 season with a gruesome injury suffered in practice, they traded for Bradford, thinking they had a championship caliber defense that could carry them. For five weeks it did, as the Vikings got off to a 5-0 start, but Minny finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs after the offensive line suffered some injuries and Bradford floundered without ideal circumstances around him.

Bradford did manage to break the all-time NFL record for completion percentage, when he completed 71.6 percent of his passes in 2016. Hooray! He also broke the Eagles' franchise completion percentage in 2015, mostly on passes that looked something like this:


(To be clear, the above is meant to be a forward pass.)

(Also, for some reason, whenever I drew the above cartoon, I did not give Bradford enormous sleeves, which was an egregious oversight on my part. My apologies.)

Bradford's high completion percentage on checkdowns resulted in a 7-7 record with the Eagles in 2015, and a 7-8 record with the Vikings in 2016. He has still never won more than seven games in one season, and he just turned 30-years old today.

Bradford's placement on injured reserve isn't just fodder for remembering an old trade, by the way. The effects of that move could have implications on the Eagles this postseason, since the Vikings are 6-2 midway through their season, and are very much in command in the otherwise crappy NFC North. They are highly likely to make the playoffs and could face the Eagles at some point in January.

The Vikings' current starter is Case Keenum, with Bridgewater lurking in the shadows after his return to the 53-man roster this week. They are a team that resembles the Eagles' last opponent, the Denver Broncos, in that they have a flawed offense but an excellent defense, although certainly, the Vikings' quarterbacks are much more competent than Brock Osweiler.

To be determined how the Eagles' 2017 season will play out, but the Bradford trade may end up being the best trade in team history.

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