In reading all of the stories about why the Eagles release DeSean Jackson one thought kept running through my mind.
When did Chip Kelly all of a sudden become Bill Belichick?
Had Belichick dropped Jackson after he had a career year at the age of 27 there would be good reason to be very wary of signing him. Belichick has a long track record of letting go of players like Randy Moss at just the right time. Many would have valid doubts about the wisdom of
Kelly? He’s been around for a little more than a year. We don’t know if he’s more Belichick or more Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels took over the Broncos after Mike Shanahan was fired in 2009. He had the same “my way or the highway” approach as Kelly does. He ran quarterback Jay Cutler out of town immediately and got rid of wide receiver Brandon Marshall after a year.
How did that work out for McDaniels? He started 6-0 in his first season but finished that year at 8-8. With the Broncos floundering at 3-9 in his second year, the Broncos sent him down the highway.
Cutler hasn’t been an elite QB since leaving Denver but he was good enough for the Bears to cast their lot with him and give him a big extension this season. Marshall has gone on to make three Pro Bowls since leaving the Broncos and has at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards in each of the four seasons since being traded.
This doesn’t mean that Kelly will flame out this year. He was able to keep the Eagles going all the way to a division title, an impressive feat for a first-year NFL head coach.
But that doesn’t mean he’s the smartest guy in the room, either, even though he often acts as though he thinks he is. We have no track record on what happens with players who are unceremoniously dumped by Kelly.
Some may be inclined to give Kelly the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure what he has done to earn that, at least not to the point where the other 31 NFL teams should automatically run far, far away from anyone he releases.
My CSN Philly colleague Geoff Mosher concluded a solid post on Jackson’s release with this: “They forged ahead behind Kelly’s vision by ridding the roster of a supremely talented football player whose biggest crime was his inability to endear himself to Kelly.”
Again, we have no track record to indicate that an inability to please Chip Kelly means that a player isn’t able to please any or all of the other 31 coaches in the NFL. Jackson is the first major test case and we will see how it works out.
I suspect that both the Redskins and Kelly could be right. Perhaps Jackson was never going to get along with Kelly and there is a good chance that if he kept Jackson around a explosion was inevitable. But with a change of scenery and a new mix of personalities on the coaching staff and in the locker room, Jackson may mellow out a bit, at least for the length of his three-year contract.
Time will tell but right now there is no reason to assume that Kelly made the right move.