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How one play changed Sam Bradford in Chip Kelly's offense

There has been a little chatter about Sam Bradford entering the free agency market in 2016. One play in the 2015 preseason exposed why he shouldn't follow Chip Kelly to the Bay Area.

It was one of the most talked about plays in the 2015 preseason. Ravens LB Terrell Suggs got past the offensive line and dove for Eagles QB Sam Bradford's twice surgically repaired knee. Suggs and the Ravens were penalized 15 yards at the time for roughing the passer, but later the league deemed it a fair play and no fine was issued. The reasoning behind that decision was that when an offense is running the read-option or the zone-read, the quarterback is considered a runner, and therefore can be hit as such.

Bradford and several other Eagles players were upset about the play, calling it unnecessary and dirty. Suggs defended his actions:

When you run the read option, you’ve got to know the rules. If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that’s had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules, you see what I’m saying? I could have hit him harder than that. I didn’t. I eased up.

Chip Kelly had his own interpretation of the play as well as plays run out of the shot gun.

It was just a handoff. Not every shotgun run is a zone-read play. We didn't run any zone-reads. We don't run as much zone-read as everyone thinks we do. I thought the interpretation on the field was correct.

He said it was a read-option play, but it wasn't a read-option play. I know our quarterbacks can get hit on a read-option play, but not every run we have is a read-option run. We run sweep, power, counter, trap -- all of those things out of the gun.

Everyone in the league runs shotgun runs. Are they going to hit every quarterback in the league when they hand off in the shotgun? That's up to the league. I think it would be troubling for the league if every quarterback in the shotgun can be hit.

With all of that being said, defenses stifled the Philadelphia offense in 2015 by deeming Bradford a low risk as a runner, if any at all. In 2013, Nick Foles had a record setting season under Kelly with 27 touchdowns and a 119.2 passer rating. In 13 games Foles ran 57 times for 221 yards, averaging 4.4 yards/carry. Compare that to Bradford's paltry 26 attempts for 39 yards with an average of 1.9 per carry in his 14 games in 2015. (Some of the attempts are scrambles that are recorded as rushes but unfortunately there isn't a metric for designed runs vs. scrambles without re-watching all of the game film.)

Nick Foles is not exactly a burner. He ran a 5.14 40 yard dash at the combine and has been compared to a baby giraffe by Eagles fans. Bradford was faster at the combine with a 4.78 but yet had fewer rushing attempts and yards with the Eagles, which indicates success in Kelly's offense is not predicated by speed alone. Although Kelly said that Bradford's previous health issues did not play a factor in his play calling, it did assist opposing defenses in keying in on the run game which was ranked 28th in the league with 89.5 yards per game and 3.92 yards per attempt which ranked 17th.