It is all so genuine and natural for Doug Pederson as a head coach, the way he talks to people and tells them the truth with the tone of authority and authenticity he projects. In the case of quarterback
For weeks prior to Bradford signing a two-year contract to remain with the Eagles, Pederson told anyone who asked that he thought Bradford was the right fit here, that his skill set translated well into what the offensive scheme will be in 2016. He was, frankly, effusive in his praise of Bradford, who came on strong in 2015 and convinced Pederson, based on what the head coach saw as he studied the film of the season, that Bradford would be a great fit for the Eagles.
"It wasn't just lip service that I was saying," Pederson said on Thursday. "It was something that I meant. I felt that. I know the offensive staff felt that, and we're glad to have him back."
The coaches aren't the only ones glad to have Bradford back. Wide receiver
“I am so excited about this,” Matthews said, “and I know a lot of guys on the team are excited about it. You saw what we did when we got to know each other and came together as a team toward the end of the season as far as the offense goes, and even you have seen guys like
“You want to have a team that believes in each other and we all believe in Sam. This is a great thing for us. We know we have a lot of work to do and we know we have to keep growing together and improving as a team and as individuals. We’ve all got to put our heads down and work and make good things happen.”
Said defensive end
The Eagles have signed seven players on the current roster to new contracts since, well, since the whole football organization was turned upside down and Pederson was hired as the head coach, and there is no question that the players feel the sense of community and the notion that their efforts are being recognized and rewarded by the team. Pederson has been a catalyst in all of this, of course, and he's come across as an honest and caring head coach who is going to shoot his guys straight.
Pederson wants his players to have "ownership" in everything happening with this team, and when a coach encourages that message it fosters great chemistry and trust and, ultimately, commitment.
The Eagles have committed to their players. The players have committed to the organization. Bradford is the latest example of an offseason blueprint going according to plan thus far.
This isn't done yet, not by a long stretch. The Eagles have a ton of work to do on this roster, holes to fill. They know it. When Pederson met with Bradford on Thursday to shake hands and celebrate the new contract, the message was one that meant something to Bradford.
"Talking to Sam earlier today, I told him, 'This is your offense. I don't want it to be about Doug Pederson.' I've kind of said that all along," Pederson said. "I want the players to take ownership in all of this."
Bradford listened. Bradford heard. And Bradford took it all to heart.
"It's great to have your head coach want you and express that to you in so many ways," Bradford said. "I'm so excited about being here. Doug knows the position, having played it in the NFL. He understands what is required to have success and I just can't wait to get started."
From a football standpoint, Bradford thinks his best NFL days are in front of him. He's played six seasons, has lost two of them to major knee injuries, has had a bunch of coaches come and go, and has never really advanced the womb of stability.
So maybe this is the point in his career that Bradford turns the corner with a head coach who is going to nurture him, motivate him and demand the very best from him. All of this - the nice words, the contract, the commitment - doesn't mean the Eagles will sit still at quarterback. They could very well add to the position, and Pederson has not backed off his statements throughout the offseason that the ideal is to continue to draft and add to the quarterback position and develop depth there.
But his message to Bradford is one that was real, that jumped off the page with its warmth and sincerity: We want you here. Sign on and stay with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I feel good," Pederson said, "about the things we're doing and what we've been able to accomplish. I know there is a lot more ahead, and I'm excited to put it all together and work with these guys. I'm enjoying this."
It shows, and the players notice and the offseason moves now to the brink of free agency with momentum and optimism.