Before the Eagles traded for Sam Bradford in March, Chip Kelly turned to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for information about the quarterback from the time they spent together in St. Louis.
Shurmur was Bradford's offensive coordinator in 2010, when Bradford was offensive rookie of the year and almost led the Rams to the playoffs. Then Shurmur accepted the head coaching job in Cleveland, and Bradford went through two more offensive coordinators while dealing with injuries in three of the next four seasons.
"Really what I did was talk about the experience I had with Sam, and . . . I was able to give some insight to him, how he prepared, how hard he worked, what he was like as a quarterback behind center, what he was like as a leader," Shurmur said Wednesday in his first public comments since the trade for Bradford.
That relationship was not the reason the Eagles dealt Nick Foles and a second-round pick in a package for Bradford, a former No. 1 overall pick who missed most of the last two seasons with two tears of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. But Bradford had an advocate in Shurmur, who called plays when Bradford passed for 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and 3,512 yards while completing 60 percent of his passes in an offense that had only one Pro Bowler.
"I certainly have a very strong, good opinion of what he can accomplish," Shurmur said. "Had he been able to stay healthy, he wouldn't have been available for us. When the deal was getting made, I had my fingers crossed in the background that it was going to get done."
Shurmur scouted Bradford coming out of Oklahoma, where Bradford excelled in a no-huddle system. Shurmur said the Rams "tried to incorporate some of those things" in 2010. Although this is Kelly's offense in Philadelphia, Shurmur has said that his influence is incorporated. He said Wednesday that the Eagles offense has concepts similar to some Bradford has worked with before.
"He can function very well, he can get rid of the ball quickly, he's very smart, he prepares and trains like all the great ones do, and we feel like he's an outstanding thrower," Shurmur said. "Not to mention he's a terrific athlete. There's kind of a three-prong challenge for him - get better physically, learn what we're doing mentally, and get out here and do it on the field tactically - and in our minds he's doing a good job."
Since Bradford's arrival in Philadelphia, Shurmur has "been able to guide him through things and help connect the dots" on everything from moving to a new area to particulars about a new system.
Shurmur said he felt bad about the injuries Bradford endured after the coach left St. Louis, but he said a coach does not really know what a player is going through unless he is in the building.
Shurmur understands why there are questions about Bradford's health, but he's effusive about Bradford's skill set and personality. Bradford is not particularly boisterous, but he said teammates know when the quarterback needs to say something.
What matters most at this point is Bradford's health. Kelly asked Shurmur for insight on Bradford, but the information Shurmur could not give is how Bradford will look after two major knee injuries.
"There's no certainties in life," Shurmur said. "All I know is since he's been here, he's made great strides in terms of getting his knee strong enough. . . .We feel very confident he'll be ready to go when it's time to play."