PHILADELPHIA (AP) — When Chip Kelly had a chance to bring Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles, he thought about Drew Brees.
The New Orleans Saints signed Brees as a free agent in 2006 even though he just had shoulder surgery, an injury that scared off other teams.
Ten seasons. Five playoff appearances. One Super Bowl title. A likely Hall of Fame career.
Obviously, it was a great move for the Saints.
“Their revival and what happened down there was their acquisition of Drew Brees,” Kelly said days after acquiring Bradford from St. Louis. “They didn’t count Drew Brees out and look how it paid off for them. That’s some of the chances you have to take.”
San Diego didn’t offer Brees as much guaranteed money to stay. Nick Saban and the Miami Dolphins were interested, but traded for Daunte Culpepper instead when Saban was scared off by the shoulder injury.
“Coach Saban has even commented on what his career would have been like in Miami if they had taken Drew as opposed to not taking Drew,” Kelly said this week. “Then you look at the impact that he had. I think the reason he was available is because of the injury.”
Same with Bradford. The Rams were willing to trade the 2010 No. 1 overall pick because he had two ACL surgeries on the same knee and hadn’t played since October 2013.
Bradford, however, is off to a slow start and the Eagles are 1-3 going into Sunday’s home game against Brees and the Saints (1-3).
By the way, Brees led New Orleans to a 10-6 record, a division title and a playoff win over Jeff Garcia and the Eagles in his first season. The Saints started 3-1 in 2006.
Here are some things to know about the Saints-Eagles game:
FORMER SAINTS: Running back/punt returner Darren Sproles and safety Malcolm Jenkins are two of Philadelphia’s best players and two of Kelly’s best acquisitions. Both came from New Orleans last year. Sproles has arguably been the team’s MVP. Jenkins is the anchor in the secondary. “He is such an explosive player, such a versatile guy,” Brees said of Sproles. “Sproles was one of the guys that you had to make sure you had a plan for because you get him in space on a guy and that’s where his greatest strength lies.”
YOUNGSTERS STEP UP: The Saints got big contributions from rookies and first-year pros in their 26-20 overtime win against Dallas. On offense, wide receivers Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman had key catches. Both were 2014 undrafted free agents who are seeing their first significant playing time as pros this season. On defense, rookie draft picks Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha and Tyeler Davison each had a sack on Brandon Weeden.
O-LINE ISSUES: Inconsistency on the offensive line is a major reason the Eagles are struggling. Add injuries to their problems. Seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps) might not play, so right tackle Lane Johnson could flip sides and make his first career start on the left side. Johnson has been limited in practice because of a knee injury. Left guard Allen Barbre (groin) also is hampered.
“When you watch the film, the O-line is the one sinking the ship right now,” Johnson said.
SPILLER’S ROLE: C.J. Spiller is turning into the new Sproles for the Saints. He beat a linebacker in a mismatch for an 80-yard catch-and-run TD in overtime vs. the Cowboys. “He’s got that speed, and I think the challenge sometimes is how you handle someone like him when you’re into extended sets,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
FACING COACH DREW: Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis considers Brees an on-field coach. That makes him tougher to defend than most quarterbacks. “It really is like having a coordinator at quarterback,” Davis said. “They can adjust from what you show. That is the biggest challenge. He’s very accurate and highly competitive. He knows this offense as well as Sean (Payton) does, and they work well together. It’s a challenge.”
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