Chip Kelly explains why Sam Bradford over Nick Foles


PHOENIX — People keep asking Chip Kelly about Marcus Mariota. Kelly keeps talking instead about Sam Bradford.

Kelly on Wednesday said Bradford is “running and moving around” as part of the quarterback’s rehab from his second ACL tear in two seasons and is gearing up for Phase 1 of the Eagles’ offseason program, which starts April 20.

Kelly talked to reporters for an hour at the NFC coaches media breakfast on the final day of owners meetings and again suggested that Bradford would be his starter in 2015, even perhaps on a one-year deal that will pay Bradford close to $13 million.

Kelly said he wouldn’t publicly discuss contract matters of his players but said he’s “comfortable with Sam as our quarterback.”

Bradford still must be medically cleared to practice, and Kelly wasn’t able to provide a timetable for the quarterback’s next visit with Dr. James Andrews.

Like he did earlier this month, Kelly repeated that he didn’t go into the offseason looking to deal Nick Foles and that he had wanted to retain the quarterback he sent packing to the Rams along with a second-round pick.

Kelly said he first tried to acquire Bradford without moving Foles, but ultimately the Rams wanted the former Eagles quarterback.

“I think it was a mutual thing,” Kelly said. “It went on for a couple weeks. We were trying to keep Nick if we could. It was just at the last second, they wanted players. We were trying to get it done with draft picks, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Still, nobody forced Kelly to deal Foles for Bradford. There had to be some reason that the third-year head coach, who has total authority over personnel for the first time, dealt away a quarterback who went 14-4 under Kelly for Bradford.

When asked what he was getting from the quarterback swap, Kelly said accuracy.

“When you look at Sam, it’s his overall accuracy that I think impresses everybody when you watch him play,” Kelly said.

Bradford, the former No. 1 overall pick, has completed 58.6 percent in his four seasons with the Rams. Foles, entering his fourth season, has a career 61.6 completion percentage and 61.9 in Kelly’s scheme.

Clearly, Kelly believes a healthy Bradford can elevate his completion percentage the way Mark Sanchez did last year, going from 55 percent to a franchise-record 64 percent.

Kelly didn’t directly say Foles’ accuracy was an issue, but he said enough.

“Just looking at where we are and what we need to do, we’ve got guys open and we didn’t put the ball on them in certain situations,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he hasn’t fielded any more trade offers for Bradford. His faith in the former Oklahoma Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick hasn’t stopped speculation that the coach will try to get Mariota by any means necessary.

Kelly, who spoke out against mortgaging the franchise to move up, again laughed off the idea that he’d move up several spots in the draft and dared reporters to name an ideal scenario where he could trade up for the Oregon star and reigning Heisman winner without giving up several picks.

“What’s it cost?” asked the coach. “Give me a number. From where to where?”

Two first-round picks to go from 20th overall to sixth, one reporter countered.

“It will never get you there,” Kelly shot back. “It took two first-round picks [for Washington] to go from 6 to 2 three years ago.”

But Kelly didn’t rule out the possibility of Mariota's sliding down in the draft and becoming reachable without bartering the farm.

“I thought Odell Beckham was the best player in the draft. He went at 12,” Kelly said. “He ended up the Rookie of the Year.”

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