Chip Kelly Says The Sam Bradford Trade Is An Attempt To Emulate What The Saints Did In Acquiring Drew Brees
The Sporting News- But Chip Kelly doubled down on the Bradford decision by citing coach Nick Saban — he of four national championships at LSU and Alabama — and what many see as Saban's biggest mistake.
In 2006, in the midst of Saban's middling run as Dolphins coach, he had a chance to sign Drew Brees. Brees, common wisdom said, had a bum shoulder — the result of a 2005 tear of his labrum that led to Philip Rivers' ascension as Chargers quarterback. Saban passed. He chose Daunte Culpepper as his primary passer. And hindsight still mocks him.
Kelly suggests Bradford could see a similar career renaissance in a Fox Sports story. Kelly's contention: He didn't want to be the coach that feared injuries and feared the risk. He didn't want to be Saban.
"The impact Drew had on the Saints was really what we studied," Kelly told Fox Sports. "What would this league be like if Nick Saban had Drew Brees? Would Nick have ever gone back to Alabama?"
Alternate histories aside, Kelly feels that critics misrepresent Bradford's injury history as a chronic condition. He told Fox Sports: "It's not like it was 15, 20 years ago. I think the advances in all of medicine have really helped from an injury standpoint. I don't know if there's a way to prevent it. I also don't think this guy is more susceptible to it."
The Brees-Bradford comparison will draw raised eyebrows. But it might not be so outlandish.
Damn you Chip. You sly, calculated bastard. How can I criticize your offseason moves when the one that's worthy of the most criticism is one that was made in an attempt to mirror the success of the single greatest roster move in Saints history? I can't, that's how. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. It would be like if someone complimented my Sambas and I, in turn, smudged their Pumas. Say what you want about Chip Kelly, but the guy knows how to hush his critics. Especially his critics that happen to be a part of the Who Dat Nation. I'm trying to think rationally about the comparisons between the two quarterbacks, but I'm just sitting here distracted, running through the endless spank bank of memories that Brees has given Saints fans and the city of New Orleans. It's like trying to break up with a girl mid-blowjob. Stop tickling my balls Chip, I've got a trade to analyze.
Regardless, let's try to put some context to this. Being that we are now a decade removed from Hurricane Katrina, it would be disingenuous not to recognize that the union of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints was unlike any other in NFL history. It wasn't just a franchise, and a city, taking a chance on quarterback coming off a serious shoulder surgery. It was also a quarterback taking a chance on a ravaged city and, what many thought to be, a depleted fanbase. Yeah, Nick Saban passing on Drew Brees was a huge mistake in retrospect, but at the time no one even gave it a second thought. The only reason the Saints didn't hesitate to bring Brees on board with a massive contract was because they desperately needed a quarterback. Even more so, they desperately needed a reason to get the city of New Orleans excited about football again. There was still a very good chance that Brees entire career would have been compromised by that injury, but with the franchise in disarray, it was a risk that had to be taken.
Chip Kelly's trade for Sam Bradford, while numbers wise seems pretty similar, doesn't have nearly the same circumstances surrounding it. For one, Drew Brees was the first and only option for New Orleans. The needed to rid themselves of Aaron Brooks following his harsh comments regarding the city, and Brees was the only quarterback that gave them the time of day in negotiations. On the other hand, the Sam Bradford trade was, to put simply, the Eagles way of setting a backup plan in motion. Make no mistake, Chip Kelly exhausted all options in his attempt to get Marcus Mariota even after that trade was made. Who can blame him? Drew Brees was coming off a freak shoulder injury that he incurred while trying to recover a meaningless fumble in a meaningless game. While that injury was certainly career threatening, there was nothing else in Brees past to show an inability to stay healthy. He didn't carry the same stigma of being injury prone as Bradford currently does. Is it out of the question that Bradford has a Brees-esque career resurgence? No. However, the fact remains that Drew Brees signing with the Saints was the best case scenario for them, while Sam Bradford starting for the Eagles was their Plan B.
Fortune does indeed favor the bold, but considering how lucky the Saints were that things turned out as they did, it'll be interesting to see if that lottery number pops up twice. Chip Kelly may not have wanted to end up like Nick Saban, but at the time of the trade his intention wasn't to end up like Sean Payton either. I'll give him this, if your goal is to spin how prosperous your offseason truly was then comparing your quarterback to a Super Bowl MVP and a Future Hall Of Famer is the correct way to go. However, let's not trivialize the extraordinary manner in which Sean Payton and Drew Brees completely resurrected the fortunes of the New Orleans Saints. While the Eagles supposed blueprint is clearly not unprecedented, it's definitely not a strategy that has a high rate of success.