Eagles Bye Week Breakdown: Offensive Backfield
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - When it comes to Sam Bradford, you were bamboozled.
The Eagles fan base was sold on the fact that it was getting a quarterback who rivaled Aaron Rodgers when it comes to accuracy and one that at least had more mobility than Nick Foles to take advantage of some of the spacing a zone-read look provides in the running game.
What you got was a rusty, inconsistent passer who is so immobile, the zone-read has been abandoned for called running plays out of the offset-shotgun look, a reality most defenses have astutely figured out rather quickly.
The question is no longer will the Eagles extend Bradford past 2015, it's whether or not Chip Kelly will admit he made a mistake as the general manager and move toward Mark Sanchez for the rest of this season in a very winnable NFC East.
A mediocre option who is prone to turnovers, Sanchez is no long-term answer himself but he's got enough in the tank to help Philadelphia take what is one of the worst two divisions in all of football.
The bye week would have been the perfect time to make the change but Kelly has already balked, indicating a potential shift in direction is not even on the table, preferring instead to continue the an excuse-based narrative that was born in St. Louis for Bradford. It made more sense for the Rams, though, because they were the ones who spent the No. 1 overall pick on Bradford and, like most organizations, didn't want to be saddled with a bust on their watch.
To be fair to Bradford he didn't have great weapons in the Show Me State nor does he have good ones here but top-tier quarterbacks elevate those around them and Sam has never shown the ability to do that.
The assumption all of that is going to change in the second half of the season is an obtuse one and a narrative Kelly certainly doesn't share in his quiet moments. It's very likely that if the head coach had never pulled his power play and was in this same position, he would have already gone to Sanchez but the fact he made the trade for Bradford is clouding what seems like a rather obvious path forward.
The other high-profile addition in the offensive backfield has not worked out either. DeMarco Murray has struggled mightily in his first season in Philadelphia. He looks lost in the offset looks, has trouble going east-west and at times looks like he is running with a piano on his back after the 492 touches in Dallas last season.
Ryan Mathews, on the other hand, has been Philadelphia's most explosive back and a rotation where Murray gets two-thirds of the touches seems like another decision based on money and ego rather than production.
Darren Sproles has been his usual pesky self as a matchup problem in certain packages but has uncharacteristically dropped more than his share of balls in the passing game.
MVP: Sproles by default
The real answer here is none of the above because Sproles is simply not on the field enough to have a ton of impact but when the veteran scat back is out there, he's by far the Eagles' most difficult skill-position player to deal with for opposing defenses. So, by default, he gets this mythical title.
Better Days to Come: Murray
Murray is always going to be a bit of a square peg in this offense because he likes to run the football downhill and as Chip continues to gather pieces that fit his vision, the quarterback under center, which has been more frequent in recent weeks, will again disappear. That said when Kelly finally does get his movement-based QB, the running threat from that position will create more space for Murray and you will finally know if the reigning rushing king can sink or swim in this kind of offense.
It's just not going to happen: Bradford
For all the talk of how Nick Foles didn't fit in with what Chip Kelly wanted to do offensively, you couldn't have gone into a lab and created a worse fit for this system than Bradford right now. Perhaps it will change a bit as he gets more comfortable with his knee but this is a one-and-done experiment and both sides will go their separate ways in 2016. In fact, the real story here is Kelly acquired Bradford as a chip to spin off in an effort to draft Marcus Mariota and when that didn't work he was stuck with a Hail Mary plan B he never really wanted to move forward with.
Biggest Disappointment: Bradford
There is a chance Bradford could turn into a competent NFL quarterback in a more traditional atmosphere as he gets further and further away from the ACL injuries but his play here, even taking into account the lack of talent around him, hasn't measured up. Add in the expectations after the preseason anomaly in Green Bay and you have the very definition of a disappointment.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen