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Report: Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi because of 'locker room chemistry'

Report: Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi because of 'locker room chemistry'

One of the attributes of the 2017 Eagles we’ve been lauding for the past several weeks is the chemistry inside the locker room. Every player has bought in to this team, or, as Chip Kelly might refer to it, the culture here is second to none.

All of which were listed as reasons why the Dolphins were willing to trade Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi.

Nobody can deny Ajayi’s talent as a pure runner. The 24-year-old finished fourth in the NFL last season with 1,272 yards rushing on 4.9 yards per carry, and crossed the goal line eight times. When he’s at his best, Ajayi is a beast.

But Ajayi hasn’t been at his best in ’17 while averaging 3.4 yards per carry. And while a sad Dolphins offense as a whole certainly has been part of the issue, multiple reporters close to the situation have questioned his attitude and work ethic.

Via longtime Dolphins beat Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald

The reason Ajayi was traded has to do with team culture and locker room chemistry and player buy-in.

And the Dolphins weren’t liking what Ajayi was doing on those fronts. Yes, he was missing holes and assignments on occasions, too. He was among the players coach Adam Gase was referencing when he said players don’t take work home with them.

“At the end of the day, guys have got to actually take this stuff home and study it,” Gase said a few days ago. “They’re not going to just learn it all in meetings. We’ve got to find guys that will actually put forth effort to actually remember this stuff and really, it starts with our best players.”

Yes, like Ajayi.

That’s a little vague, but it gets worse – and more tangible.

He complained bitterly about not getting the football. He stormed out of the locker room – get this, after wins – because he hadn’t gotten what he deemed to be enough carries. And, oh yes, he didn’t exactly light it up on the field.

And here’s the thing: All this was done undercover. Ajayi complained to his position coach. And he carried around an attitude around other teammates. But he never took his concerns to the only voice that matters and that’s Gase.

Salguero said the Dolphins view Ajayi’s departure as “addition by subtraction.” In other words, whatever ability he has on the field couldn’t overshadow the off-field issues and behind-the-scenes hysterics that were detracting from the team.

On Monday, Eagles coach Doug Pederson preached cautioned with making a move before Tuesday’s trade deadline. He said any player the club brought in would have to need to be the right fit from a chemistry standpoint because that’s a big reason the Eagles are 7-1.

Perhaps Ajayi will change his tune now that he’s joining what appears to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately, most people don’t change overnight.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

Just when it seemed the Eagles might make it through the 2018 coaching carousel relatively unscathed, a new rumor links offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Titans’ vacancy.

Then again, due to the timing of the Titans’ head coaching search, they may not even have the opportunity to talk to Reich at all.

Reich was first named “a possibility” for the Titans’ job by longtime beat writer Terry McCormick. However, because the organization did not request an interview during the first week of the NFL playoffs, by rule, a meeting cannot occur until after the Eagles’ season is finished. That could be as many as three weeks from now, depending on the outcome of the conference championship on Sunday.

Ideally, the Titans will have filled the job by then.

Reich himself shot down the story on Tuesday, though that was easy given the circumstances, with the Titans unable to reach out at present.

“Right now, myself, our staff, are interested in one thing only, so, that's all,” Reich said. “I have no time (for that). When I tell you I have no time for anything to consider anything else other than how we're preparing a game plan to beat the Vikings, that's really all we're concerned about.”

If the Titans are a little late to the game, that’s because a somewhat surprising postseason run gave Mike Mularkey two additional weeks of life. Once eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the sides parted ways, at a time when most front offices were already finalizing coaching searches. Of the seven clubs with openings, two are filled, and three more are reportedly spoken for.

In other words, the Titans are left with a smaller pool of candidates to choose from. That could help explain why Reich could be gaining some momentum after there was no reported interest in the first round of coaching interviews.

While Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo were among the star candidates this offseason, Reich flew under the radar. However, the reality is he probably warranted more consideration. From that standpoint, the Titans’ supposed interest makes sense.

Some observers may even see a potential Reich departure as beneficial for the Eagles. DeFilippo’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s believed if he isn’t hired as the head coach of either the Titans or Cardinals, he’ll leave for an offensive coordinator job regardless. If Reich goes, one of the league’s bright, young assistants could move into his role.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it probably is.

DeFilippo is reportedly still in the running for the Cardinals job (for which the Eagles can grant permission for a second interview next week even should they advance), and may be ready to move on regardless, to someplace where the title of offensive coordinator comes with play-calling duties. As for Reich, his availability is largely tied to whether or not the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, unless the Titans were willing to wait until February to have so much as a conversation.

The Titans are already lining up interviews with other candidates, notably Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. And should the Eagles lose on Sunday, you can certainly understand why any of Reich, Schwartz or DeFilippo would be on the short list. Yet, for the moment, their candidacy for this particular job appears to be in direct proportion to the outcome of the NFC Championship game.

Rating the rumor: Sorry, Titans – you snooze, you lose

Relive the wild Eagles celebration over Falcons one more time in 360 degrees

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Relive the wild Eagles celebration over Falcons one more time in 360 degrees

As Doug Pederson would say, there's plenty of work left to do.

But let's be honest, most of us are fans. So we can savor Saturday's victory over the Falcons a little longer than the Eagles players who have to get right back to work to prep for the Vikings this coming weekend.

And the Eagles official accounts have been producing some beautiful content ever since Julio Jones slipped, got up, and let the ball sail through his finger tips.

My favorite thus far -- and I'm partial, because you can see me for a split second at the 23-second mark -- is the final play of the Falcons' drive that ended with the huge 4th and goal from the 2 yard line sync'd up with Merrill Reese's call and fan-filmed reactions. It's a work of art.

Next up is a pretty sweet 360 view of the celebration in the locker room. You've seen Jeffrey Lurie dancing like a maniac by now, but this is a unique perspective you can literally see from every angle.

And for some extra chills, enjoy the national anthem. Love the fans joining in the singing.