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.

Kevin Hart finally gets his Lombardi Trophy

NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kevin Hart finally gets his Lombardi Trophy

Kevin Hart finally has his Lombardi Trophy.

Hart, a comedian and a native of Philadelphia, had a few too many adult beverages during Super Bowl LII and attempted to get to the stage for the presentation of the trophy. He was unsurprisingly denied.

But Hart refused to accept "no" for an answer.

The lesson here is, if you're big enough of a celebrity to get on the field after your hometown team wins the Super Bowl, you probably have enough coin to just buy your own trophy instead of trying to drunkenly crash the trophy presentation.

On his birthday, Embiid delivers present to fans

On his birthday, Embiid delivers present to fans

Most Sixers fans probably could've predicted the 2-0 result of the Sixers' back-to-back swing against the Knicks and the Nets, but the expenditure of energy it'd take to get there was hard to see coming. One night after needing a fourth-quarter comeback to escape from New York, the Sixers went even further down to the wire against Brooklyn at home, needing a huge final-minute three from Robert Covington and some savvy playing of the foul game from T.J. McConnell to squeak out the 120-116 win.

Both one of the biggest reasons the Nets were able to hang around and one of the biggest reasons the Sixers won anyway was the birthday boy himself, Joel Embiid. JoJo turned 24 yesterday, and he matched that with a 24-point performance -- though he needed 23 shots to get there, only hitting a Kobe-like six of them. But The Process was eminently trustworthy elsewhere in the box score: a career-high 19 boards, four assists (with only one turnover), and most importantly, an immaculate 11-11 from the foul line, where he'd been struggling recently (just 63% from the stripe this month previously). It was about as dominant a performance as our big guy could submit while being an absolute mess from the field.

And he was matched along the way by Ben Simmons. The Fresh Prince didn't notch his third consecutive triple-double, sadly, but he came damn close with his 21-8-12 line -- to go with three big steals and just two turnovers -- his highest-scoring night since he hung 32 on the Bulls in February. We've said it before, but having a superstar to carry your team when they're struggling is the ultimate luxury; having two feels downright immodest. (Simmons since All Stars were announced in late January, btw: 16-8-9 on 58% shooting and under three turnovers, with four triple-doubles and double-digit scoring in 25 out of 25 games.)

So the Sixers move to 38-30, two games up on Milwaukee in the seventh seed, half a game behind Washington at five, a full game behind Cleveland at four, and 1.5 behind Indiana at three. While the Sixers have struggled some against top-level teams in the past month -- going 1-5 in their last six games against playoff-bound opponents -- they've kept pace in the East by taking care of business against the sub-.500 teams, winning their last eight against losing squads, dating back to them taking an L against these Nets in Brooklyn at the end of January. Now they get a couple hard-earned days off before two more home games against lottery-bound squads in Charlotte and Memphis. Trust -- and celebrate -- The Process.