Worth The Risk?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Every now and then you have to scratch your head and wonder what a particular athlete was thinking. The latest is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford signed a new deal ( two-years at $36 million with $22 million guaranteed) and then asked to be traded because the Eagles traded up in the NFL Draft and selected a quarterback (Carson Wentz). Then Bradford doesn’t show up to voluntary workouts only to then show up and rescind his trade request. This from a quarterback who cannot stay healthy and has never made the playoffs.

Sam BradfordWe forget that Bradford was once the number one overall pick by the then St Louis Rams in 2010. A draft that saw the next six picks all became Pro Bowlers. He was supposed to be the first franchise quarterback they had since hall of famer Kurt Warner.

Then he got hurt.

He had not one but several season ending injuries with one causing him to miss an entire season. He was then traded to Philly before last season in exchange for Nick Foles where he was injured again but this time he only missed two games.

Now for the crazy numbers.

Bradford is 25-37-1 as a starter and has never led a team to the playoffs. Yet after his two-year deal he will have made some $114 million and still be under 30 years old.

I get he wanted to be traded. He’s a competitive guy and believes that he can do the job and get the Eagles, or some other team, to the Super Bowl. He probably doesn’t fell like he should have to compete for the quarterback job but facts are facts; Bradford hasn’t played a full season since 2012 who just singed a relatively big money deal. Not exactly awesome trade material.

BradfordWhat did he think when the Eagles signed veteran backup Chase Daniels? Why not “demand” a trade then? So the Eagles traded up to get their quarterback of the future in Wentz. Did Bradford think that the Eagles were just going to hand him the job and not hedge their bets?

Hopefully Bradford fulfills the promise that made him the top overall pick of the draft and Offensive Rookie of the Year. It would be nice to see him prove the doubters wrong and lead the Eagles to the playoffs. But he has to prove it and while history is not indicative of future success, even Bradford himself must understand that the Eagles have to manage their risk.

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What To Watch Thurs. 9/17 – Sun. 9/20

All times are Pacific.

Thursday September 17th

Clemson at Louisville – 4:30pm ESPN: Your chance to watch Clemson QB Deshaun Watson in person. He is something to see.

ManningDenver Broncos at KC Chiefs – 5:25pm CBS: Denver is not the same offense it was a year ago but man was that defense impressive in week one. KC looks to finally get a touchdown pass into the hands of a wide receiver.

 

 

Friday September 18th

Florida State at Boston College -5pm ESPN: BC always seems to give people trouble when they play at home and at night. Well this game is at home and at night.

LA Angles at Minnesota Twins – 5pm MLB.TV: Both teams are chasing that final wild card slot in the American League. This is the second game of a four game set.

Pittsburgh Pirates at LA Dodgers – 7pm MLB.TV: Playoff preview and a decent pitching match up to boot.

 

Saturday September 19th

Chelsea vs Arsenal – 4:40am NBCSN: Two of the better teams year in and year out in the Premier League. Chelsea desperately needs to right the ship.

Air Force at Michigan State – 9am ABC: Michigan State is coming off of a high profile win against Oregon. Now they have to settle down and play assignment football against a disciplined Air Force squad. Michigan State wins but it’s close for a half.

Nebraska at Miami – 12:30 ABC: Remember when these two teams use to play for the National Title every year?

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame – 12:30 NBC: Notre Dame has had more injuries than you can shake a stick at and Georgia Tech is a pretty good bet to win the ACC this year. Notre Dame has to be like Michigan State, very disciplined on defense if they want to win against a triple option attack.

Auburn at LSU -12:30pm CBS: Auburn has been the most overrated team to start 2015. Can they put it together in Death Valley and knock off the LSU?

Western Kentucky at Indiana – 1pm ESPNEWS: Western Kentucky can put up points and so can IU. This could be WKU’s second win against a Power 5 conference school.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders  4pm MLS LIVE: Cascadia Cup matchup with big time playoff implications.

Colorado vs Colorado State – 4pm CBSSN: The Rocky Mountain Shootout may not garner national attention but it’s usually a heck of a game.

California at Texas – 4:30pm FOX: Cal has one of the better QB’s in the country in Jared Goff. Odds are he will light up the Longhorns secondary.

Ole Miss at Alabama – 6:15pm ESPN: Ole Miss got the better of Bama last year. Bama has trouble with the Rebels style of offense too.

BYU at UCLA – 7:30pm FS1: Awesome matchup with two highly touted freshman QB’s. BYU’s Tanner Magnum and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. BYU pulls this out like they have their first two games and they could be looking at a big 6 bowl berth.

 

Sunday September 20th

Southampton vs Manchester United – 8am NBCSN: Southampton are only four points behind the Red Devils in the Premier League table.

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals – 10am CBS: Bengals ran over the Chargers AFC West cohorts (Oakland Raiders) last week. Chargers are a whole different proposition though.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills – 10am CBS: Well it’s Rex Ryan vs Bill Belichick again except this time Ryan heads up the Bills.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles – 1pm FOX: Cowboys pulled one out of the fire last weekend while the Eagles fell short trying to do the exact same thing. Chip Kelly will hear the boos if his team starts off 0-2 after the offseason they had.

Portland Timbers vs NY Red Bulls -2pm ESPN: Timbers and NYRB are both in the thick of the playoff hunt.

NY Yankees at NY Mets – 5pm ESPN: See why TV and MLB execs are wetting themselves over the possibility of another Subway World Series.

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers – 5:25pm NBC: Rematch of the wildly entertaining NFC Championship game from a year ago.

The Next Bill Walsh?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Crazy is the most politically correct term that has been associated with the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly lately. While some of his methods may seem unconventional he apparently has a plan and he’s going to follow it regardless of public opinion.

Chip Kelly

Kelly and the Eagles have made some head-scratching moves this off-season and many feel that they’re not done yet. When the dust settles the Eagles will be closer to the team that Kelly wants even if that means trading an All-Pro player like LeSean McCoy. Many feel that is a team built in his likeness. One that is tough, smart, dedicated, big and fast. Pretty much everything you want in a prototypical NFL team.

Many would argue that the players Kelly has moved were the ones that he was looking for. From McCoy to quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Kelly felt otherwise and now he is going to field a team with several players coming off of major injuries.

It doesn’t stop with player personnel moves either. Kelly is a big believer in the sports science. So much so that he hired Shaun Huls as the NFL’s first ever ‘sport science coordinator’. While some criticized Kelly’s uptempo offense when he arrived in the NFL, Kelly noted that tempo is just another tool in the toolbox. His practices methods have even come under fire like having players run hard the day before a game.

How does this related to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh?

Look at the similarities.They both brought a new mindset, methods and style to the NFL. Both installed innovative offenses and try to find the best players to fit that scheme. Both brought a new way of thinking to how you coach a team, run practices and both pulled from industries outside of football.

Walsh’s West Coast offense was seen as heresy in a league that, at the time, was filled with teams that believed in ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’.  Walsh’s offense was all about balance and timing. Some called it finesse but that finesse ended up winning four Super Bowls in the 80’s.

Walsh’s techniques are visible at every level of football from play calling to how you run offseason workouts. Kelly is making inroads in sports science, practice techniques and an innovative offensive style that gives the quarterback multiple run/pass options on every play.

Watch the first 3:30 of the video and you’ll get look inside Kelly’s approach.

Yes we know that we are comparing one of the greatest minds in the history of football with someone who has yet to make it to a Super Bowl but the markings are there. Yes we are making some big assumptions here like professional players embracing Kelly’s tactics and ideas. But people we’re saying similar things 35 years ago about Walsh.

A coach once said that ‘change is inevitable, growth is optional’. No one likes change, especially well paid NFL players. But change is here and so far it has been successful. The measure of success is of course a Super Bowl win which is something that the Eagles have never captured. Kelly has to win one. It’s the ultimate dropping of the mic in football.  It silences every critic. When know this because Walsh did it, three times.

Further Reading

Bill Walsh – HBR Article (1993)

Chip Kelly – Philly.com (2014) 

Chip Kelly – Grantland (2014) 

Pacific Leaders

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The NFL Playoffs are quickly winding down. While the AFC title games features veteran NFL head coaches, the NFC title game on the other hand features two of the three former PAC 12 coaches in the NFL Playoffs.

Carroll and Harbaugh

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll and the San Francisco 49ers Jim Harbaugh are complete opposites as ESPN’s Rick Reilly pointed out in his column on ESPN.com. One of the things that they do have in common is their success at their previous coaching jobs in the PAC 12 (Carroll at USC and Harbaugh at Stanford).

In this years playoffs, three of the twelve head coaches previous job was at a PAC 12 school (Philadelphia Head Coach Chip Kelly being the third). Another playoff team, the Indianapolis Colts, first year offensive coordinator (Pep Hamilton) comes from the PAC 12 as well.

While Carroll and Harbaugh will gain most of the headlines because of their success on the professional level, the Eagles Kelly is no one to discount. He took the Eagles to the playoffs in his first season and did it while changing QB’s.

The SEC gets most of the headlines when it comes to college football but the PAC 12 has a better rep when it comes to sending coaches to the NFL.

Previous examples of PAC 12 coaches who have had success in the NFL include; Bill Walsh, Dennis Green, John Robinson and Dick Vermeil among others. Not to mention that two of the hottest head coaching names that seem to be on everyones list come from the PAC 12 too (UCLA’s Jim Mora and Stanford’s David Shaw).

Is there something different about the PAC 12? Probably. Historically speaking most of the offenses were more of a “pro-style” but psychologically the coaches are possibly more prepared.

When you think of the Pacific or the West you think opportunity, innovation, and entertainment. More over a willingness to take chances. Calculated risks. This mentality seems to translate better into the NFL.

In any event, the NFC title game on Sunday features a great coaching rivalry against two coaches who just seem to win. Both have taken calculated risks on young QB’s and both worked out. Now we get to see which coach gets a trip to the Super Bowl.