Shady Behavior: What Chip Kelly isn’t doing to take Eagles to a Championship Level

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (C) pats running back LeSean McCoy on the back late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on September 29, 2013.  Denver (4-0) beat Philadelphia (1-3) 52-20 to remain undefeated.     UPI/Gary C. Caskey

No one may be more ahead of the curve when it comes to play innovation and the physical science of athletes than Chip Kelly. Since he has arrived in the league the former University of Oregon coach has shaken things up to say the least much like he did in the world of college football.

Despite making head scratching moves this off-season there are many analysts, fellow coaches, players, and fans that believe in Kelly and his methods.

Of course not everyone shares those same sentiments particularly LeSean “Shady” McCoy, Kelly’s former All-Pro running back who he shipped to Buffalo in March. Last week McCoy made it a point to mention that Kelly got rid of “all the good black players”.

Does McCoy have a point? Is there something more to why Kelly got rid of him and guys like DeSean Jackson who were elite performers? Or is this just McCoy’s bitterness talking? Perhaps animosity as he sees Kelly replacing him as the new face of the franchise?

I will answer the latter first and say there is no doubt that McCoy is upset about leaving Philadelphia. He played his whole football career in the state of Pennsylvania and he was active in the local community.  That being said, I do not think his comments should be easily dismissed as just someone with a bone to pick. There is something very transparent going on in Philadelphia despite Kelly, a very private person to begin with, not wanting to talk about it.  Keep in mind this is the same guy that gave Riley Cooper an extension after his N-word video went viral.

Kelly wants his type of guys on this roster and that is one of the reasons he is purging Andy Reid’s players.  He also has gotten rid of some big contracts to free up cap room and yes he did bring in a lot of new black players.

So what is the issue?  Let’s go back to Kelly bringing in his type of guys.  There is nothing wrong with acquiring personnel that are great locker room guys, who maintain a high level of character on and off the field, that don’t command a lot of attention, and play good sound fundamental football.  Yes you don’t need a team full of players who are flashy, household name superstars that may or may not bring extra or unwanted attention away from the team’s facilities.  But you do need some of those guys.

The great thing about football is that it diffuses culture.  A black kid from the projects in Detroit can catch a pass from a white farm boy that originates from Iowa.  Two totally different walks of life who likely would have never crossed paths if it weren’t for football.  The same goes for fans.  In the stands the only colors you are judged by are the ones you wear to support your team.

The NFC East’s history is a perfect example of coaches who took a chance with players who displayed unorthodox styles or had a rough upbringing and turned it into a success story.  Take Bill Parcells, who had Lawrence Taylor, a trainwreck away from football, but he was able to use LT’s wreckless behavior to his advantage on the field, making him arguably the greatest defensive player to ever step on the gridiron. Currently we see Parcells’ protege, Bill Belichick using this same method of player psychology giving him the ability to bring in NFL stars with baggage and in most cases it has paid big dividends.  How about Jimmy Johnson?  When he was at the University of Miami he took a lot of underprivileged youths whose only chance of getting off the streets was football. Under his tutelage a number of these young men became quality players at the next level.  When Johnson got to that next level he continued to embrace these talented individuals enabling him to taste glory.  Even though Buddy Ryan never got the Eagles to a championship he did build some of the best defenses in NFL history and was one of only two coaches who was playing a black quarterback at the time.  This controversial, stocky white-haired man from Oklahoma was loved by most of his team, especially his black players, some of which who followed him to Arizona when he coached the Cardinals.  10 years after Buddy left Philly they hired another coach and to call him stocky would be an understatement.  Andy Reid, a west coast BYU alum and practicing Mormon, also drafted a black kid from Chicago named Donovan McNabb to be the leader of his franchise.  Although he never won the big one Reid had the Eagles in the conversation almost every year.  Like Ryan, he wasn’t afraid to take chances with personnel and his players adored him.

We can even go back to guys like Tom Landry and Joe Gibbs.  Devout Christian, mild-mannered white men who might not have had a close bond with the guys they coached, however if one of their players was having a problem they would be the first to get them some help.

Kelly has a particular issue accepting players who may still have connections to their troubled roots.  He strongly prefers a reserved, businesslike focus from his guys and has less tolerance for fame and flair.  Most of these players in question are black.  Does this mean Kelly is racist?  It would be unfair to put that label on Kelly considering this current society is still trying to define what racism is in today’s world.  Is it prejudice against skin color?  Culture and religion?  The dialect in which we speak?  The clothes we wear?  How we vote?  Our income and family situations? The way we carry ourselves?  No one really knows because nobody discusses it.  Sure we point and blame and scream and call people out, but we never talk about it in a civil manner.  People often criticize ESPN’s First Take, but at least they have the guts to bring up this controversial topic without slandering each other in the process.

As I alluded to earlier Kelly won’t address this.  By doing so he could squash this notion and make a positive statement that could resonate with his team, the rest of the league, and maybe even beyond that.  Why doesn’t he?

Football is a game of emotions.  It is a game of expression.  You can come up with all the formations in the world, but it can’t account for the intangibles that these athletes posses needed to take a team over the top.

I’m not saying Kelly can’t evolve on this matter, but he better do it quickly.  His radical moves have built very lofty expectations in Philadelphia. Last year his team had a 9-3 record only to finish 10-6 and miss the playoffs.  Is Kelly the type of coach a team can rally around in the face of adversity?  We have yet to see it.

Kelly will eventually come to the realization that he will have to take a risk on a player that doesn’t fit his current mold in order to win a Super Bowl.  The real question is when he finally does will it be too late?

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Brady, Shady and a Big Bargin in Big D

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Inflated Chances

Deflate Gate is alive and well.  The release of the Wells Report has revived this thought to have been dead story claiming Tom Brady likely had prior knowledge about the under-inflated footballs used in last year’s AFC title game.  There is now even talk of Brady being suspended.  If that were the case it could have a positive impact on NFC East teams pending the length of the suspension.

Personally I’m tired of the outcry on this issue.  Brady may or may not have known about the air pressure in some footballs, yet people are acting like the man set an orphanage on fire.  It’s ridiculous!  That being said this could potentially be big for Dallas if it is a four game suspension as they wouldn’t have to face Brady for their October match-up with the Patriots.  If it’s an eight game suspension Washington would avoid facing No. 12 as well.  As for the Giants and Eagles?  They need to hope for a Sean Payton type suspension.  They have the Pats Week 10 and Week 13 respectively.

Reduced Rookies

Last week the Cowboys made headlines by drafting talented, but troubled defensive end Randy Gregory.  They landed him at pick No. 60 which many experts dubbed easily the “biggest steal of the draft”.  Less than a week later Dallas may have made an even bigger one.

La’El Collins, arguably the best offensive lineman entering the draft, had to leave Chicago prior to the event due to the murder of his ex-girlfriend.  Collins was never believed to be a suspect, however given what transpired with Aaron Hernandez no team wanted to touch him and he went undrafted.

He was questioned by authorities and once it became clear Collins had nothing to do with the tragic incident he instantly became the most coveted rookie free agent.  His decision to take Jerry Jones’ offer means that the Cowboys basically got three first-rounders and out of the three the two most talented ones came at a huge discount.

A Chip on his Shoulder

LeSean “Shady” McCoy was the face of the franchise for the Philadelphia Eagles so it came as a shock to many when he was traded to Buffalo in March.  It’s no secret that there is no love loss between McCoy and Chip Kelly, however the comments made recently by McCoy regarding his former head coach raises a new issue.

McCoy claimed that Kelly wants “full control” which is no secret, but he also emphasized that Kelly got rid of “all the good black players”.  So does the man they call Shady have a legit argument or is it just a case of him having bitter ax to grind?

Yes Kelly did sign and draft other black players, but he also gave an extension to mediocre receiver Riley Cooper last season who a year earlier was recorded dropping an N-bomb.  Philly’s best receiver DeSean Jackson was let go the same off-season that Cooper signed his deal.

Kelly has yet to address McCoy’s comments.  Are they worth acknowledging?  Stay tuned as I’ll have more to say when it comes to Shady’s feelings towards Kelly.  Circle your calendars for December 13th when the Eagles host the Bills.

NFC EAST TEAMS MAKE NOISE FOR HEADLINE SELECTIONS AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES


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Another NFL draft has concluded.  While grades were posted immediately after the card for Mr. Irrelevant was handed in, a draft truly can’t be evaluated until 2-3 years later when we really find out whether these former college stars will sink or swim in this league.

Here is a quick look at some of the big takeaways from this weekend.

A New Scherff in D.C.

A lot of people were surprised that the Washington Redskins went with Iowa’s Brandon Scherff with the No. 5 overall pick.  Leonard Williams was still on the board and while he might not be the best fit Washington’s 3-4 scheme, it could have been a good trade opportunity with another team.

In retrospect this pick looks great.  The Skins have added a guy to their roster that can play multiple positions on the offensive line.  This move also says a lot about Scot McCloughan’s philosophy when it comes to team building.  When he was with San Francisco and Seattle he was part of front offices that put heavy emphasis on putting together powerful offensive and defensive lines.  McCloughan addressed much of the needs on the defensive line via free agency this off-season.  His selection of Scherff confirms his commitment to upgrading the big boys on the other side of the ball.

Byron Jones Gives Cowboys Breathing Room with Uncertainty at Corner

Even though Dallas has three potential starters at corner under contract the reality is a lot different than it is on paper.  It is still unknown if Brandon Carr will take a pay cut and if he won’t his days in Big D might be numbered.  Morris Claiborne (in the last year of his rookie deal) is coming back from injury and his play thus far for his career has been nothing short of disappointing considering where the Cowboys traded up to get him in the 2012 draft.  The Cowboys best corner Orlando Scandrick, is scheduled to make chump change this season and has chosen to skip team voluntary workouts displaying his displeasure when it comes to his earnings.

Combine workout wonder Byron Jones could be a big sigh of relief for the front office and coaching staff.  The consensus is Dallas made a solid selection with the No. 27 overall pick which could light a fire under the veteran corners with contract quandaries.  The former UConn Husky’s  unique athleticism also gives him the ability to play safety as well.

Oh Yeah that Randy Gregory Guy 

Randy Gregory became a household name Friday night not because where he was drafted, but because of where he wasn’t drafted.  Gregory’s bad timing of off the field issues took a huge toll on his draft status.  The likely otherwise top 10 selection dropped to No. 60 overall when Dallas scooped him up.

The Cowboys got a gift and a lot of fans on social media were stunned that he wasn’t taken any earlier in second round.  Gregory was a ferocious pass rusher at Nebraska, but fans and spectators need to be patient because this product still needs some polishing.  Gregory is 6’6″, but only weighs 235 lbs.  That is 20 lbs below the league’s average defensive end.  This kid probably needs a little time to really grow into his body.  He did put up 24 reps on the bench press at the combine and when you consider his long arms and low weight that is pretty impressive.  Can you imagine the power gains he could accumulate if he is able to bulk up?

Running Back Not Selected by Cowboys Despite Deep Class

Jerry Jones said running back wasn’t a “must” for the Cowboys heading into the draft.  He wasn’t bluffing as Dallas did not feel it was a huge area of concern despite losing the league’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray via free agency to the rival Eagles.

There are a couple of theories as to why the Boys did not draft a running back.  For one it could be they like the running backs they have.  Even if they don’t have one that can be the workhorse Murray was they have guys that do different things well and possibly think they can replace the production with multiple backs instead of finding a Murray clone.  The second reason being is that the Cowboys are truly sticking to their draft board and found more pressing needs with offensive line depth and defense.  Many of the players selected on Saturday they will likely count on to improve their special teams units which played below expectations last season.

No Mariota for Philly

It’s no secret that Chip Kelly wanted Marcus Mariota so bad he would have almost traded the Liberty Bell for him.  Keyword “almost”.  Kelly offered a lot, but at the end of the day he stuck to his word saying he would not mortgage the organization’s future which is what the Titans wanted him to do for that No. 2 pick.

Many names of veteran players were rumored to be part of a possible trade package in order to acquire Mariota.  With these players staying on the roster it makes one wonder if there will be any kind of repercussions for this?  Perhaps a rift between Kelly and these guys?  The mysteries of Chip Kelly’s master plan continue.

Finally a Receiver for the Birds

DeSean Jackson was let go and Jeremy Maclin opted for Kansas City meaning the Eagles lost two Pro Bowl receivers in back to back years.  Chip Kelly has taken some criticism for letting so much production walk out the door with no sense of urgency for a suitable replacement.

Unable to land Mariota, Eagle fans got an answer at wide out with the selection of Nelson Agholor.  Agholor was the fourth receiver in selected in the first round Thursday night.  He might not have the superstar potential that the three taken before him do, but he could turn out to be a solid No. 1 receiver for years to come in a system in which Jackson, Maclin, and Riley Cooper all experienced career highs in receiving yards.

Kelly Stocking the Pantry for Defense

We’ve seen offensive minded head coaches, especially those with strong philosophies (or big egos) invest heavy on that particular side of the ball.  After selecting USC’s Nelson Agholor, the remaining five of the Eagles draft picks all were used on defensive players.  As crazy as we think that mad offensive scientist of a coach Chip Kelly might be, at least he is not ignoring the defense in his new role as GM.  Kelly knows he can’t afford to have his defense give up the plays they did last season down the stretch that cost them a playoff spot.

Giants Had No Choice but to Reach for Flowers

When the Giants drafted University Miami OT Ereck Flowers with the ninth overall pick many experts considered it somewhat of a desperation move.  Well it was.  But can you blame them?  The Giants offensive line was putrid last year and former first round selection Justin Pugh has yet to live up to where he was selected a couple years ago.

Flowers has all the tools to be a very good tackle in this league.  If he his coachable at the next level then he could very well be worthy of his selection after all.  His presence may also give the Giants the luxury of moving Pugh inside to guard.  Is Flowers the next Tyron Smith or Alex Barron?  Bet that he’ll never be as good as Smith, but never as bad as Barron.  If he can at least be an adequate starter in his rookie season the Giants will be satisfied.

G-Men’s Day 2 Picks Already Reminiscent of Championship Stars

When the Giants did not re-sign two-time All-Pro safety Antrel Rolle it made an already suspect secondary that much weaker.  The Giants took an aggressive approach in finding Rolle’s replacement by trading up to the first spot of the second round to grab Landon Collins.  Collins is the same height as Rolle and unlike other Alabama safeties he’s got incredible ball instincts.  Collins also outweighs Rolle by about 20 lbs which means he has the potential to be a much more physical player that can be an immediate impact starter.

Collins isn’t the only Giants draft pick drawing similarities to a former Big Blue All-Pro.  UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa name may be harder to pronounce than Osi Umenyiora, but he is already being compared to Justin Tuck who was also a third round selection.  Like Tuck, Odighizuwa also has the size to play both defensive end and defensive tackle.  Steve Spagnuolo, who was the defensive coordinator during Tuck’s best seasons, is back with the Giants in the same role.  Think he didn’t have any influence on that pick?

Expectations Entering Tonight’s First Round

NFL-Draft-logo-gold-03-22-15The 2015 NFL Draft kicks off in the great city of Chicago this evening.  As awesome of a venue as Radio City is in NYC, I think a lot of people are welcoming the change of scenery.

There is no mystery as to what will take place with the No. 1 overall pick when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston.  After that who knows what will transpire?  This draft isn’t exactly full of star power which isn’t always a bad thing because it usually means you can anticipate more spontaneity creating a lot of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on each team heading into the first round on what should be a memorable night in the Windy City.

Dallas Puts Peterson Trade Talk out to Pasture Opting for Younger Backs

Dallas is doing the right thing by not going after Adrian Peterson.  Unless Minnesota lowers their asking price and Peterson is willing to take a significant pay cut there is no need to pursue a 30 year-old running back when there is loads of talented backs in this draft.

Todd Gurley should be off the board by the time the Cowboys pick.  They might have a shot at Melvin Gordon, but don’t be shocked if they pass him up for Tevin Coleman who might be the most complete running back in this draft.  He’ll likely fall behind Gurley and Gordon which may give Dallas an option to address defense with their first pick.  Also don’t be surprised if the Cowboys have selected more than one running back when the draft concludes especially if they have found one that can also contribute on special teams.  If that is the case Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden will be put on notice.

Draft is Critical for Giants 2015 Success, Must Address O-Line

Did the New York Giants really get better in free agency?  It is questionable why they overpaid guys like Dwayne Harris and JT Thomas.  The signing of Shane Vereen should complement Rashad Jennings nicely, however outside of Danny Woodhead running backs that leave New England don’t have a good track record in their new landing spot.  The G-Men also brought back a lot of their own players and with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul no one from that group is making anybody tremble.

The Giants have the skill positions to get back in the playoffs, but they need better blocking to compete as a top-tier offense.  New York has to find a blue chip offensive lineman and a couple of guys that can at least contribute (don’t have to be great, but can play a role or fill a void) on defense.  Brandon Scherff out of Iowa would make a ton of sense and from where the G-Men pick in the first round there is a good chance he’ll be wearing Big Blue.

Don’t Rule out Marcus Mariota in Philly

The Eagles are not out of the Mariota sweepstakes just yet.  While they probably won’t try to make a deal with Tennessee to move up to No. 2 there is the chance that if Mariota falls past No. 5 then the New York Jets with the No. 6 pick could be that trading partner the Eagles are looking for to land the former Oregon Duck.

It looks like the Titans are not in love with the idea of drafting Mariota.  The team that is a real threat to Philly in terms of acquiring the young signal caller is Cleveland.  Apparently the Browns are offering their two first round picks to the Titans for their No. 2 spot.  Word has it that the Browns might start drafting a quarterback every year until they get it right.  That sorry strategy is no surprise from an organization that repeatedly shoots themselves in the foot as if it were a bodily function.  It is no guarantee Tennessee will take Cleveland’s deal especially if they have their heart set one of the top pass rushers or receivers in the draft.  The Eagles don’t have the leverage to trade up that the Browns do, but don’t sell Chip Kelly short. Should the Titans reject Cleveland’s offer and Mariota drops, Kelly does have some young talented players he could package with draft picks to trade if he is so infatuated with the kid he once recruited.  Either way we’ll find out by Thursday night’s end if Sam Bradford is here to stay in the City of Brotherly Love or if he was merely brought in as a bargaining chip.

Skins Sitting Pretty at No. 5

The Washington Redskins have to be really excited about this draft.  Why not?  They actually have a first round pick this year!

The Skins are in a good spot at with the No. 5 pick.  While new GM Scot McCloughan has made some light smoke screens as to the possibilities of the team taking Marcus Mariota I wouldn’t buy it.  McCloughan is looking for his next Russell Wilson, but he knows he doesn’t have to take him at this spot.  Heck he might not even be in this draft!

If Amari Cooper is still there at No. 5 I don’t see Washington passing him up, although if they have Kevin White or DeVante Parker ranked higher on their draft board they could go with one of those guys as well.  It looks like Washington plans to retain a 3-4 flex defense for the coming years which might have them interested in Dante Fowler creating a bookend sack tandem with Ryan Kerrigan.

These all seem like good options, but if I had to bet I believe McCloughan is going to trade this pick to accumulate more draft selections and honestly that is the best move.  The Skins have a lot of needs and if they somehow become involved with a team that wants to trade up for Marcus Mariota this could pay big dividends for them.

LET’S HAVE THE TEBOW TALK

Chip Kelly has been no stranger to headlines this NFL offseason. He has gutted the Eagles roster and brought in “his type of guys”. Still no one really knows what the plan is and Kelly won’t necessarily reveal it either. The man has one heck of a poker face. Whether you like the signing of DeMarco Murray or not it was pretty incredible how he pulled it off and robbed him away from division rival Dallas. A move no one saw coming.

So again we don’t know the plan, which means we are not 100% sure why Kelly brought in newly acquired Tim Tebow. The consensus is he’ll be competing for the third-string quarterback position.

Here are pressing questions regarding Tim Tebow’s status in the NFL and the answers should end the debate as to what Tebowmania was/is all about.

Why was Tim Tebow signed by Philadephia?
Tebow was signed by the Eagles for two reasons. One he is a great locker room guy. Third-string quarterbacks rarely see the field and if they do get frequent playing time it usually means the season is a wash. Have you seen the other third-string quarterbacks in the league? It’s putrid to watch them play. Did you watch Ryan Lindley in the playoffs? So why not have a guy that can have a positive impact on those around him?

The second reason is Tebow can actually succeed in Chip Kelly’s system as a backup. It is a simple offense for quarterbacks and his unique athletic talents can open things up for their perennial Pro Bowl running backs.

Why has Tebow had trouble finding a spot on an NFL roster?
Most quarterbacks with a record of 8-5 and a postseason win with over 300 yards passing which included throwing the winning touchdown wouldn’t have trouble finding work. Tim Tebow is the exception. He throws a nice deep ball, but his short to mid-range accuracy is terrible. Denver had to revamp their whole offense to adjust to his style. He’s not the type of quarterback that you can plug into different systems which automatically makes him a potential coach killer. Also if you factor in the media attention he brings (it’s much tamer than a couple years ago) it isn’t worth the headache.

Will Tim Tebow make the Eagles 53-man roster?
Tebow has a good chance to win the third-string job behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez mainly for the reasons I listed above. I don’t believe he is there as another body for camp like Sanchez suggested. If that were the case why not bring it someone who wouldn’t make a lot of noise? Of course all this could change if Philadelphia dumps Bradford and acquires Marcus Mariota.

What is the story behind Tebowmaina? The love? The hate? Will it continue?
Tebow is a polarizing figure. It all started with his incredible career at the University of Florida. Tebow is loved because of his intense play on the field, passionate leadership, his off the field demeanor, and his marketable clean-cut image. There are people who love Tebow because of his Christian faith, which I find odd since there are tons of other athletes that are openly Christian yet they don’t nearly garner the attention that Tebow does for it.

People hate Tebow because they don’t feel a player with his limited skill set should be taking up so much time as the main topic on multiple sport media sources. I’m sure there are some militant atheists who gag at his love of Jesus, but at the end of the day it’s no worse than Russell Wilson or Ray Lewis. There are also people who hate simply just to hate.

Tebowmania has likely reached its peak and unless he actually plays it will never resurface as the phenomenon it was just a few years ago.

What happens if Tebow gets cut?
Kelly runs the Read-Option more than any other coach in the league. This just happens to be Tebow’s biggest strength. If he can’t win a job in this offense that is the friendliest system to his skill set then I think it is pretty safe to say that he is done as a player in the NFL.

He will have several other options though. He could play in the Arena League or Canada. The door is always open for him to go back to broadcasting. Coaching perhaps? Why not? The guy is a great motivator. With his squeaky clean image he could even run for office. The next Mayor of Gainesville? Stranger things have happened.

PRETZEL