We can argue exactly why DeSean Jackson was cut. We can debate whether it was a good thing or not. We can talk about how he’ll be replaced (coming soon in a post this week). One thing I think that isn’t up for debate is that Chip Kelly has a good feel for the pulse of the team.
Kelly has had some hot button issues in his year on the job. He had to decide whether to bring back Michael Vick last offseason and then how to handle a competition between Vick and Nick Foles. Kelly had the Riley Cooper incident to deal with. Now he’s had the DeSean Jackson situation.
In every case, Kelly made a tough decision, but one that the players got behind.
Kelly could have easily cut Cooper after the concert video got out to the public. Instead, Kelly let the players help him make the decision. Jason Avant stood up strongly for Cooper. Then Vick did the same thing. Not everyone was on board with the move, but there was enough support from enough veteran players that the team stuck with Cooper. They needed him on the field and that fact certainly played a part in the situation, for both players and coaches.
Cooper did and said the right things to get back in the good graces of his teammates and had a terrific season for the Eagles.
We have no idea how the DeSean situation will turn out, but so far his teammates are not exactly bemoaning his loss.
We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! #FlyEaglesFly
— Jason Kelce (@Jkelce) March 28, 2014
— Brent Celek (@BrentCelek) March 30, 2014
I don’t think Kelce is ripping DeSean with his words, but rather he’s showing support for Chip Kelly and the overall direction of the team. In a later tweet, Kelce wished DeSean well with his new team.
Jeff McLane offered this nugget in a column from yesterday.
Two Eagles players who requested anonymity said that Jackson wasn’t a clubhouse cancer, but he had become a distraction. They would not offer specifics. Both questioned whether his loss would hurt the offense and opined that he wouldn’t be difficult to replace.
I’ve heard that Jackson wasn’t liked by more than a few teammates. This would certainly seem true by the lukewarm support he got from them publicly. No one came out and threw DeSean under the bus (insert Shady joke here), but no one really stood up for him in a compelling way.
Plenty of guys around the league and former players are standing up for DeSean, but the point is that they didn’t have to deal with him on a daily basis.
A big part of being a good coach is knowing your team. You can’t make bold moves unless you know how your players will react to them. So far Kelly has shown that he does have a good feel for his players. Heck, I think this goes all the way back to last year when Kelly was first hired. He replaced a very popular coach in Andy Reid. Kelly had some radical ideas on how to train and how to practice.
Kelly had to sell himself and his ideas to the team. He obviously did a good job as he had players buying in to his ideas, even though they were very different. Kelly, like all coaches, is a bit of a control freak and he’s got some very specific ideas on how he wants things done. His ability to communicate with his players and judge their attitudes is a big help as Kelly tries to build the Eagles into the kind of team he really wants.