Eagles coach must know something

Posted: April 04, 2014

IN A WORLD where perception often collides with reality, the next big announcement should be that Chip Kelly has traded himself to the Washington Redskins.

Think about it: They've got a quarterback who can make plays with his feet, and now by adding DeSean Jackson to an offense that already includes wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed, downfield weapons who will make fully operational that up-tempo, 100-play-a-game offense that Kelly was supposed to have installed here last season.

Those were the talking points 12 months ago, right? Chip was going to throw, throw, throw, throw, use up what remained of Michael Vick's talents while he played out a mulligan season that would allow him to develop a running quarterback obtained in last year's draft. He was going to trade Nick Foles to obtain that arm, or maybe he was going to take his beatings that first season so he could be in a high position to grab one of the quarterbacks from this year's class.

The point is that Kelly, and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, have earned the benefit of your doubt in this whole perplexing Jackson affair. Kelly not only made it work without a fleet-footed quarterback last season, the guy became a Pro Bowler. He not only didn't throw, throw, throw, Kelly ran the ball almost as much as he threw it. And he not only didn't put half his team into the intensive-care ward, they were arguably the NFL's healthiest.

Turns out, the only thing Kelly really needs for his offense to hum is a team buy-in. One guy does his own thing - missing meetings, going after coaches on the sideline, occasionally disappearing from games when he isn't targeted enough - and that one-for-all, all-for-one mentality takes a big hit.

Just ask Andy Reid. Who, by the way, did not line up to acquire the guy he took a chance on out of college, when other teams were wary of that demeanor, dropping Jackson from a projected high first-round pick to a mid-second round one.

Once Jackson was released, teams showed some interest, but it is important to note that no team was willing to trade anything to acquire Jackson under his existing $10.5 million salary.

But the Redskins did guarantee $16 million of that 3-year, $24 million deal he signed yesterday, which seems to dispute the perception that they were his only serious suitor. As the Eagles showed with Vick, someone always will be willing to take a chance on talent, and when your team finished the previous season with just three wins, as the Redskins did, there's not a whole lot of risk involved.

Still, the Redskins seemed to have more glaring needs than another guy to go deep for Robert Griffin III. Like blocking people and covering people. And Jackson's contract gives them even less cap room to address those issues. So as much as we might fear Jackson catching touchdown after touchdown for a division rival, it is equally possible Griffin will not get him the ball enough to his liking.

And we know what happens then.

Kelly managed that last season because he had to. And because veterans like Jason Avant bought in, even as he spent entire games without a catch, blocking on plays. And Kelly had Vick, who handled losing his job to Foles with such class that there should have been some postseason team award for it.

Those were two of the prominent bodies keeping Jackson from doing something really, really stupid during an embarrassing loss to the Vikings last December. It also should be noted that the target of that tantrum, receivers coach Bob Bicknell, has been Kelly's close friend for 21 years.

Yesterday, in a conference call with Washington reporters, Jackson called himself "a team guy."

What team, he didn't say.

Despite the fortuitous timing, I doubt Jackson's vague connection to the Crips, or coded hand signals or home burglary had much to do with his release. Maybe it just pushed the button, I don't know.

What seems clear, though, is the Eagles were unwilling to renegotiate a contract signed before the 2012 season that still had 3 years left on it, and the repercussions of that are much clearer than any gang connection. A holdout perhaps, like what occurred in the summer of 2011 when Jackson did not receive a new deal. Followed by missed meetings, dropped balls and sideline pouting.

Ugh.

Twelve months ago, Kelly told us repeatedly he did not necessarily need a running quarterback or 100 plays or to throw the ball on every down. There was a lot of doubt then, and one playoff season doesn't erase all of it. But it's likely he sees his team's future better than we do, just as he did 12 months ago.


Email: donnels@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @samdonnellon

Columns: ph.ly/Donnellon

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