The Eagles are performing well below expectations and one Philadelphia writer thinks he knows why.
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News writes an insightful post in which he says that Chip Kelly’s decision to jettison wide receiver DeSean Jackson was the beginning of the end for Kelly’s Eagles.
Of course, the end is not yet here for the 2015 Eagles. But they are in a position where the need to beat Jackson and the Redskins and then go to MetLife Stadium and beat the Giants in order to make the playoffs. Otherwise, it will be two straight years without postseason play for the Eagles. Owner Jeffrey Lurie expects much more than that for the $7 million per year he is paying Kelly.
Jackson was released on March 28, 2014, about an hour after a report about gang affiliations came out on NJ.com. Even though Jackson had enjoyed a career year in 2013, helping his team and Kelly win the NFC East with a 10-6 record, perhaps Kelly and the Eagles figured that an arrest or suspension was imminent or that maybe Jackson had seen better days.
But, as Bowen says, that’s hasn’t been the case.
Well, here we are, nearly two full NFL seasons later. There has been no Jackson suspension, no arrest. DeSean missed six games with injury this season, but he seems fine now, is averaging a potent 18.8 yards per catch. He caught six passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in helping Washington top Buffalo on Sunday. It seems likely there is a guy in just about every NFL locker room who grew up around gang members. And for the second year in a row, Jackson will help the Redskins try to end the Eagles' playoff hopes.
And Jackson wasn’t the only productive player that Kelly has let walk since then. He has sent RB LeSean McCoy (trade), WR Jeremy Maclin (free agent), and G Evan Mathis (released) packing since then and all he got in return was LB Kiko Alonso, who has been a part-time player in the nine games when he was healthy enough to play.
As the 2015 Eagles stagger toward the finish line, well short of expectations, it seems clear now that releasing their then-27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, not caring that they were handing him to a division rival while getting absolutely nothing in return, was the start of a trend that has helped put the Kelly era on a downward slope.
Check out the post for more on Bowen’s views of some of the moves that Kelly, who was handed total personnel control last January despite only having been in the NFL for two seasons, has made. Her is the conclusion:
Kelly didn't want to bother with trying to figure out whether Mathis would show for training camp. He figured he'd be fine with Allen Barbre at left guard, the way he figured he'd be fine duct-taping a used-up Miles Austin to an inexperienced, less-than-speedy receiving corps, the way he figured he'd be fine with Murray, Ryan Mathews and Sproles running the ball instead of McCoy and Sproles.
He is not fine. People who get rid of talent without getting talent back rarely are, in the NFL.