Despite the decline in wins, Eagles quarterbacks actually fared better in 2015 than the previous season, albeit marginally. They were responsible for five fewer turnovers as a unit, while their passer rating increased, even if it was by less than a full point. Regardless, the offense was technically more efficient through the air, and the numbers don't even account for all of the drops — which there were a lot.
Plus, it was quite evident Sam Bradford is more talented than Nick Foles. How much more might be up for debate, but in terms of tools (accuracy, arm strength, decision making) and how events unfolded on the field, the Eagles got the superior quarterback in last year's swap with the Rams. Bradford is still an NFL starter, Foles is searching for a job, in case there was any question about that.
The Eagles may have decided Bradford isn't the long-term solution either, but he remains at the helm, at least until Carson Wentz is ready to take over. Barring a change in plans, that won't happen in 2016, which means for now any additional improvement under center likely rests on the arm of the incumbent.
2016 DEPTH CHART
Sam Bradford, 28, seventh season, $12.5 million
Chase Daniel, 29, eighth season, $5 million
Carson Wentz, 23, rookie, $4.85 million
This is not to imply Bradford is good enough. As long as we're being fair though, we should be able to reasonably conclude the veteran signal-caller is in a better place than he was a year ago. Consider everything that was working against the former number-one overall draft pick in '15:
• Coming off a torn ACL
• Hadn't played a meaningful NFL game in almost two calendar years
• Was a limited participant in offseason practices, training camp and exhibition games
• First year on a new team, in a new offense
• Lacked the power to change plays at the line of scrimmage
• Got little help from receivers, protection, or ground attack
Not coincidentally, Bradford looked far more comfortable and in command over his final seven starts compared to his first seven in an Eagles uniform.
• First seven games: 62.0%, 1,766 YDS (6.5 AVG), 9 TD, 10 INT, 76.4 RAT
• Last seven: 67.9 CMP%, 1,959 YDS (7.6 AVG), 10 TD, 4 INT, 96.7 RAT
Bradford is healthy and finished last season strong. He built a rapport with teammates, and while a new coaching staff is in place, the west coast offense should be familiar. He'll even be allowed to audible, just like a real quarterback! A largely returning supporting cast may or may not be any good — the same readymade excuse since his St. Louis Rams days — otherwise Bradford hasn't been better positioned for a breakout year since at least 2013.
Unless you think experienced backups like Mark Sanchez or Thad Lewis are going to be sorely missed, it's unlikely the Eagles' quarterbacks got any worse. That being said, Bradford's mental toughness is about to be seriously put to the test. By moving up to select Carson Wentz with the second-overall pick in the draft and spending big bucks on seasoned veteran Chase Daniel, the Eagles ensured controversy the moment the starter shows the slightest hint of struggling.
Truth be told, there's controversy already. How soon should Wentz play? Can Daniel win the job? These are questions that have been asked. Having first crack at the spot, it's up to Bradford to block out all of the tabloid headlines, talk-radio chatter, perhaps even the occasional hometown boos and silence the critics through his performance. Will he succeed?
The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. About the only aspect the Eagles' current quarterback situation has in common with last year — aside from Bradford breaking the huddle — is the question of whether there's a single championship-caliber signal-caller among the mix.
Wentz is obviously the future of the franchise, but it will take years before we know how that's going to pan out. The Eagles seemingly already made the determination with Bradford, who's never so much as guided a team to the playoffs, although he has at least this season to prove otherwise.
Is there a player on the roster capable to leading the Eagles to the promised land, be it this season or down the road? Different year, same question.
There's no reason to think very highly of Daniel as an undersized, undrafted quarterback with all of 77 career pass attempts in the NFL. We also can't claim to know a great deal about most any passer who's made only two starts as a professional. It would be easy to suggest he can't play, but he hasn't exactly been given the opportunity either.
So should Daniel wind up pressed into action, which might seem likely given Bradford's injury history, who knows what would happen. If his body of work is any indication — a 1-1 record in a pair of Week 17 starts — the eighth-year veteran can probably keep the Eagles afloat for a game or two. Beyond that, who knows how long an extended relief appearance would last until Daniel ultimately gave way to the dawn of the Wentz era. Come to think of it, there's no telling how that would go, either.
BETTER OR WORSE?
The potential certainly exists for Bradford to reach new highs. Whether he can finally live up to his promise is a different story. Then again, even if 2016 is merely a continuation of the second half to last season, Bradford should be vastly improved overall. Seeing as there probably isn't much of a drop-off or any at all from Sanchez or Lewis to Daniel or Wentz, the Eagles' offense appears to be in better hands regardless. BETTER