On the first day of the Organized Team Activities for the Eagles at the NovaCare Complex, head coach Doug Pederson said what the team thinks about its quarterback situation and the opportunities ahead for Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz.
"I expect it to be a great room," Pederson said.
And with that, Pederson said repeatedly in his post-practice press conference, the message is to look forward and not in the past. Bradford is the starting quarterback – "My guy," said Pederson – and the Eagles are taking the view that the quarterback picture features tremendous possibilities for the present, for the short-term future and for the long-term picture.
That's the way the Eagles are going to treat their quarterbacks as they prepare Bradford for the 2016 season and as they make sure Daniel is ready if called upon and that they feed Wentz, the first-round draft pick, the proper doses of the NFL ways and the Eagles' offensive system.
"My feelings haven't changed. He's my guy. He's the No. 1 guy," Pederson said. "I just want him to embrace that and let's not look backward, let's look forward. Sam is still the starter. Carson has a long way to go with this system. He's learning every day, but Sam's the guy.
"I expect Sam not to look over his shoulder. I expect Sam to look forward. He's getting himself ready for the season, he's getting ready for Cleveland. That is what I expect from Sam. That is the message I gave him. 'No need to look over your shoulder. You're the guy. Let's embrace it. Let's go.'"
Bradford certainly appeared ready to go in the practice that was open to the media for the entire 90-plus minutes. He was sharp and decisive and very accurate with his passes. He had good zip on the ball and seemed to have a confident command on where to go with the football.
When it was time to meet the media for the first time since leaving voluntary workouts for two weeks and then returning, Bradford explained that he needed to make sure his frame of mind was right before returning to the NovaCare Complex. A lot happened in a short period of time for Bradford, and he wanted to digest it all: He signed a two-year contract with the Eagles in March and then found out the news from the Eagles that they traded from No. 13 in the first round of the draft to No. 8 and then to No. 2 a week before Round 1.
The Eagles made it clear that they intended to take a quarterback at No. 2, and it turned out to be Wentz after the Los Angeles Rams picked Cal's Jared Goff No. 1. Bradford was told the news that the Eagles had moved up to No. 2 prior to the trade becoming public. That was on a Wednesday. He practiced the next day and then received a call from his agent, Tom Condon, who suggested that Bradford leave the voluntary practices and ask for a trade from the Eagles.
Two weeks later, Bradford returned to practice.
"Obviously there are no promises in this business. Obviously, it wasn't a long-term deal, it was a two-year deal. I was well aware of that, we've talked about that," said Bradford. "My goal was to play well for the next two years and create that stability that I've talked about pretty much my whole career. Philadelphia was the place I wanted to be. I wanted to play well for the next two years, create that stability and then sign a longer-term deal and stay here for the rest of my career.
"After time and after thought I realized that this still the best place for me to be. There's a lot of guys in that locker room that I really care about and that I know they care about me. I think some of the conversations that I had with some of those guys in the two weeks that I was away made me realize how much I missed being around them, how much I missed being on the field with those guys and knowing that they had my back and knowing how much support they had for me made me realize that this is still the right place for me to be."
Bradford's focus is on 2016 and improving "week to week" and taking the Eagles deep into the postseason. If he plays well and the Eagles win games, the future takes care of itself.
"If I continue to play at a high level each week on the field, if we are winning games, I think I will be the starting quarterback and I will be out there," Bradford said. "With that being said, I'm not completely naive. You realize the organization made a move to get up to No. 2 (in the draft), at some point it's probably not going to be my team. But, until it's not I'm going to continue to lead these guys the way I did last year and I'm going to do my job to the best of my ability."
Bradford understands how the fans have reacted – "I get it. They have every right to be frustrated," he said – and he knows that good football and Eagles wins will "win them back." Now it's about football and mastering the scheme and taking this offense to a high level.
The locker room didn't seem the least bit fazed by the questions on Tuesday. The players understand each other and the business side of the game.
And this locker room has Bradford's back.
"We're all here to win football games," tight end Brent Celek said. "Sam is here now and that's all that really matters."
Said tight end Zach Ertz: "We view it as whoever is the first-string quarterback against Cleveland (in the season opener) is the quarterback we're going to put all the chips on the table for. I'm not going to go out there and run routes any less for Sam or for Carson because I'm worried about the future of this team. I'm worried about winning games now. We're focused on winning as many games as possible right now."
Look ahead. Move on. The Eagles returned as a team to the practice field on Tuesday with sights set on the immediate task at hand. Nobody is looking in the past. Together, the Eagles are moving forward, following the lead of Pederson and his daily message.