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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.

Fan recreates Eagles Super Bowl ring out of sand

Fan recreates Eagles Super Bowl ring out of sand

Here’s another story brought to you by the fact that the Eagles are Super Bowl champions.

Remember that gorgeous ring the team received last week? Well, someone made a replica completely out of sand.

That’s pretty impressive work and it’s awesome to see that Stefen Wisniewski is so proud of his ring that he’s wearing it to the beach. His former teammate and "Philly Special" QB, Trey Burton, is questioning that decision, though.

After the ring ceremony, Wisniewski posted this to his Twitter account, a heartfelt story about what the ring means to him.

The guys on the Eagles just get it. Throughout this journey that brought Philadelphia its first Super Bowl trophy, the players have put the fans first and taken everyone along for this incredible ride. It’s awesome to see a story like this where a Super Bowl champion is so proud to share his new ring with a fan.

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Eagles' trading Ronald Darby seems unlikely

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Eagles' trading Ronald Darby seems unlikely

The Eagles paid a reasonably high price to acquire Ronald Darby last August, sending a third-round draft choice and Jordan Matthews to the Bills in exchange for the cornerback.

So why is it all offseason there were rumors the Eagles might turn around and flip Darby? And why is it, even as training camp approaches those rumblings persist?

Darby is the Eagles’ most accomplished cornerback in many respects. Despite missing eight games last season, his three interceptions were tied for the most among the team’s returning players, while only Malcolm Jenkins received a higher grade from Pro Football Focus in the secondary. In terms of pedigree, Darby is a second-round talent with sub-4.4 speed and a nose for the football – the kind of game-changing ability you can’t teach – and, except for Jalen Mills, he’s the only proven corner on the roster.

Yet, the feeling Darby is on the trade block has been hard to shake. After months of speculation, but little concrete evidence to back it up, perhaps it’s worth exploring the legitimacy of the idea.

The rumor appears to have originated from an appearance by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on 97.5 The Fanatic on March 6. At the time, Mortensen said he would be surprised if the Eagles didn’t add a third-round pick in April’s draft, and believed they would move a defensive back to pick up the extra selection.

Though Mortensen never singled out Darby by name, he was the logical choice. The 24-year-old’s contract is scheduled to expire at the end of the 2018 season, and given the Eagles’ salary cap restraints and depth at cornerback, re-signing him long-term might prove challenging.

There’s been a lot of noise about the possibility of trading Darby ever since, but no strong or definitive report indicating the Eagles ever attempted to do so.

If the Eagles were to deal a corner, Darby does make the most sense. Mills is under contract through 2019, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas through 2020, and recent fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox through 2021. DeVante Bausby has also emerged as a rising prospect under contract for the foreseeable future.

Then again, if the Eagles are serious about repeating as Super Bowl champions, there’s no reason they should be aggressive in trying to dump Darby. A strong argument can be made he’s their best cover man, and set to play the ’18 season for a cool $1 million.

Who’s to say the Eagles wouldn’t make a concerted effort to sign Darby long-term after this season, either? Cornerback is clearly a position the team values. Mills has his limitations – not to mention his contract comes up soon – while Jones, Douglas and Maddox are all relative unknowns at this point. By the end of the ’18 campaign, Darby might be the only certainty of the bunch.

Right now in particular, remove Darby from the equation, and almost everybody else is nothing more than a projection. It’s difficult to imagine the Eagles taking such a huge gamble when there’s still so much at stake this season.

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