The case for Sam Bradford to return to Eagles

Defense wins championships. It's a tired, boring, overused cliche that makes any sports fan cringe. But, guess what? It's true.

Sunday night, a geriatric Peyton Manning and his offense sleep-walked through the Super Bowl, converting just one third down and picking up the record for the least amount of yards gained by the game's winner. So as the Eagles ponder what to do with the quarterback position, it is worth wondering, should they go with the lesser of evils?

That choice, of course, is Sam Bradford.

Bradford showed enough ability down the stretch this year that it is completely plausible he can be a game manager a la Alex Smith, Doug Pederson's former quarterback. Pederson and Smith guided a very conservative offense the past few years, a unit that ranked toward the bottom of the NFL in points and yards per game, but finished in the top-10 in points per drive.

Like Bradford, Smith struggled through the beginning of his career. Instability at the head coaching position hurt Smith's growth as a QB. Bradford, on the other hand, has had an extensive injury history, highlighted by a pair of torn ACLs. The Oklahoma product still has elite accuracy and can be a good fit in a traditional west coast offense that is built around his strengths.

If Pederson believes that Bradford is capable of matching Smith's production as a Chief, there is no reason to look outside of the organization for an answer at quarterback. The risk of a rookie QB is huge and minimizing any variables will be a huge factor in returning stability to the Eagles on the field.

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz may be able to fashion a top-tier defense around a very good front seven. The switch to a scheme that will highlight the penetration abilities of Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry and the dismissal of an up-tempo offense could create a scenario where the defense plays a lot like they did early in the season, keeping this team in a lot of games as the offense finds its footing.

Now, no one will confuse the 2016 Philadelphia Eagles with a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The dearth of talent on the offensive line and the questions at numerous other positions stacks the deck against the Eagles being competitive. But, as we learned again last night, a conservative offense and a dominant performance by your defense can result in some stolen wins.

Committing to Bradford is a safe, uninspired choice, but it can speed up the Eagles rebuilding process and keep them competitive in the short term. And in the NFC East, simply being competitive could be good enough to make the postseason.

Social Media Stars

It always come backs to Tim Tebow.

He didn't play in the game, but he still stole the show.

More specifically, Brandon McManus. The former Owl set an NFL record by making all 10 of his postseason field goal attempts.

Super Bowl Minute

Although this is an Eagles-centric site, I'd be remiss if I didn't address last night's game. Not only did it serve as the inspiration for my lede, but I was amazed to see a team ascend to the top of the NFL playing such a handicapped brand of football.

The Broncos defense sacked Cam Newton five times and spent most of the night dancing in the backfield as Newton's offensive linemen peeled him off the turf. Von Miller had 2.5 sacks, dominated the game from the outset and was truly deserving of the game's MVP award.

It was nice to see Manning win a second Super Bowl, albeit as a shell of his former self. In what should be his final NFL game, the player who put up the gaudiest stats in the history of the league finished with just 141 yards and a QB rating of 56.6. Football is a funny game sometimes.

Quick Hits

  • Nick Foles will not be acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. That's all I have to say about that.
  • Fletcher Cox's contract extension should be a priority because his price tag will only grow as his production catches up with his talent, but the Eagles don't necessarily need to rush to get any deal done. The Eagles exercised his fifth-year option for 2016 and can use the franchise tag for the two seasons after that if they can't agree on a deal. A deal should get done, but it won't factor into him staying an Eagle for the foreseeable future.
  • One guy who did sign a contract last week was Vinny Curry. The second-round pick was paid a handsome sum based on his potential, not on his past production. Curry has shown ability to be an elite pass rusher and he should flourish in the Eagles new 4-3 scheme. Expect big things from the Marshall product.

Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.

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