On Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles made a decision that seems to have been very unpopular among the fans, but Chip Kelly always has a reason for his actions. This time the reason was to get better.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was kicked to the curb by the Eagles on Friday. There was no trade, there was no agreement, that was it. It did not happen without hassle, though, as fans all over social media were enraged with anger.
Jackson is an extremely talented football player. He is so fast that sometimes I have trouble keeping up with him on the television screen. He is downright impossible to defend on the outside in single coverage and he will get the ball when it comes his way. Jackson has proved, more than once, that he is a threat in the NFL whenever a football is in his hands. Kelly knows that.
Although on the other hand, Jackson has made it very clear that he is “the best” when he wants to be “the best.” And, well, that was not going to work for Kelly anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Jackson. I wear his jersey to every game and I flaunt the number 10 wherever I go. But, I love the Philadelphia Eagles as a team more and I’m beginning to think that his release is something that the team will benefit from.
I was sad. I’m still sad. I really enjoyed watching him play. I enjoyed watching him grow as a player too.
Kelly’s decision assured that the team will have a pleasant, drama-free (unlike past years) locker room and that is exactly what he wanted. There is now no chance for Jackson to cause any problems. There is no way that he can argue or temper with a contract that was going to pay him $10.5 million in 2014. That would make him the fifth-highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
Jackson couldn’t take that offer and be okay with it. Of course not. It wasn’t good enough for him and, now, he isn’t good enough for the team.
This was the biggest problem with Jackson. When Jackson wants to shine on the field, he shines on the field. When he wants to play tough, he plays tough. But, when he is unhappy, he makes everyone else around him unhappy. That is not how it’s supposed to work.
According to many sources, the Eagles’ decision to release Jackson had little to do with his on-field performance or his contract negotiations.
It was said that Jackson’s off-field behavior concerned the front office. His bad attitude, inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings, and lack of chemistry with Kelly were the original reasons.
Then, the Eagles found out that his missed meetings had a lot to do with his friends negatively influencing him. They found that Jackson was associated with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.
That was the final straw.
Last summer, Aaron Hernandez, the then-New England Patriots’ tight end, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Ever since, NFL franchises have been reevaluating how strictly they watch their player off the field.
What they found out about Jackson was concerning enough to push them to release him.
According to NJ.com, “before Jackson was released, a source within the Eagles organization, who requested anonymity, put it: ‘They are concerned about having him around the younger players.’”
Anyone would have to be crazy to think that Kelly would even allow a problem, like the Hernandez scandal, to come close to Philadelphia.
This is Kelly’s second season as head coach for the Eagles and this was his first chance to really show the type of team he wants. He needed time to reshape the team after Andy Reid left and it’s finally his turn to do that after completing one full season.
His first season, Kelly got to really get a feel for each and every one of his players. He got to see their strengths, weaknesses, dedication, attitudes. Along the way, he got to show them the same exact things.
Kelly knows his players now. He knows who the right fit for his roster is and who isn’t. He knows his plans.
Many fans were questioning the release of Jackson, especially after a few weeks ago when the Eagles gave Riley Cooper a five-year, $25 million contract. They gave him this contract before free agency even began.
Why? Kelly liked Cooper’s assembly. He liked what he had to offer. Cooper admitted to his mistake and was willing to do whatever it took to fix it. Sure, it can’t be taken away or forgotten but it can be looked past. Kelly could do that with Cooper. Not with Jackson.
The return of Jeremy Maclin also took away from the hype of Jackson. Maclin will return to play after tearing his ACL at the beginning of training camp last July. Maclin does not possess nearly the amount of speed that Jackson has but he is a reliable receiver who comes with no baggage. He is an angel in the locker room.
I’m sure you have not heard a single bad thing about Maclin. He is a team-first kind of player and that is what Kelly is all about. The Eagles didn’t even allow Maclin to hit free agency, like Cooper, and signed him into a one-year deal for up to $6 million. He is guaranteed $3.5 million.
Maclin fit in Kelly’s plan. Jackson did not.
We have no way of knowing how outstanding Maclin will play on Kelly’s offense but he is looked at to be very prosperous. Jackson is 27-years-old. He had a career year last year, caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and had 9 touchdowns. That is impressive.
Previously, Maclin has never gone over the 1,000-yard marker but he was also never in the spotlight as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver.
There is no reason that Maclin can’t outdo Jackson’s numbers from last season.
This isn’t it for the Eagles and the wide receiver positions. It is quite possible that they have plans to make a play and move up in the draft to take Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. They may stay at No. 22, select the best available player and then take a receiver later in the draft. That player could be Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin.
Philadelphia has said goodbye to many players within the past month. The leadership is constantly changing. Michael Vick was known as one of the leaders of the team and he will now be fighting for a spot with the New York Jets. Jason Avant had statements from Eagles’ owner, general manager, and Kelly after they released him.
Kelly attended the NFL owners meetings last week. He was asked about leadership, or the lack thereof. He talked about the “two great ones,” meaning Vick and Avant, but he also talked about Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, and his new players Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles.
Now, Maclin is right there with them. Jackson was just not the right fit.
Philadelphia will miss Jackson. I will definitely miss Jackson. But, Philadelphia fans want Super Bowls and Jackson may have been holding them back from that.