Is adding Sam Bradford bad for Eagles?

PHILADELPHIA -- The folks at Football Outsiders projected records for NFL teams this week. We covered that in a post earlier this week.

But there was something we missed. Part of the reasoning for projecting the Eagles to go 9-7 was the arrival of Sam Bradford:

"But we do have to penalize the Eagles for introducing a new quarterback to their system, which usually means an offensive step back, all other things being equal."

That’s an interesting point, and certainly, there are variables that affect the performance of any new quarterback. Often, a new quarterback being introduced to a lineup is a rookie, for example. That means not only a different person behind center, but a player who needs to learn the intricacies of playing in the NFL.

When that quarterback is a high draft pick, it also usually means he is being added to a team that had a terrible record the year before and earned that high pick.

If Jameis Winston struggles this year with Tampa Bay, it might not mean Winston will never be an elite quarterback. It might just mean that he is surrounded by talent that went 2-14 last season.

In other cases, when veteran quarterbacks are brought in to a new situation, it is because they have failed to establish themselves with another team. They are adjusting to a new offense and playing with new teammates. Generally, a team that brings in a veteran quarterback from outside is not having success and is hoping the change will help camouflage a number of other problems.

Bradford was available because of injuries. Two ACL tears in two years kept him from living up to the expectations of the St. Louis Rams and their fans. Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. He was supposed to be the kind of franchise quarterback who gives his team a chance to win the Super Bowl. Coaching changes and injuries prevented him from reaching his potential, and the Rams decided to move on.

Chip Kelly, who traded Nick Foles and a second-round draft pick for Bradford, compared the deal to the New Orleans Saints' signing of Drew Brees. After five seasons in San Diego, Brees was coming off shoulder surgery. The Chargers had drafted Philip Rivers and were not interested in signing Brees to a new deal.

The Saints, who had just hired coach Sean Payton and were looking for a quarterback to run his offense, gave Brees the chance.

In his first season in New Orleans, Brees went 10-6 with a team that had gone 3-13 the year before.

Peyton Manning went to Denver in 2012. A team that went 8-8 and scored 309 points in 2011 finished 13-3 and scored 481 with Manning. An offensive step back? Not in that case.

Andrew Luck, who replaced Manning in Indianapolis, took the Colts from 2-14 to 11-5 in his first season there. Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012. The Seahawks went from 7-9 to 11-5.

Good quarterbacks make teams better. Period. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. Bradford has to remain healthy, for one thing. He has to fit well in Kelly’s offense, for another. But there is every reason to believe Bradford’s experience and skill set will benefit him as he makes the transition. It doesn’t hurt that Kelly has demonstrated the ability to tweak his offense to fit his quarterback. In two seasons, Kelly has won 20 regular-season games while Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez have started games for him.

Will Kelly’s team take a step back by adding a more reliable and versatile quarterback to the offense? If Bradford is healthy, that doesn’t seem likely.