Birds brass suddenly chatty

Posted: May 03, 2014

Well, it was just another week with those chatterbox Eagles. All three major players in the team's hierarchy - Jeffrey Lurie, Chip Kelly, and Howie Roseman - were available to share their thoughts with the public. Blah, blah, blah. You just can't shut up these guys.

Kelly emerged to say that releasing DeSean Jackson five weeks ago was a "purely football decision"; Lurie said, "What he said"; and Roseman held a wide-ranging predraft confab with the beat writers in which he confirmed everything except the stuff you couldn't probably figure out on your own.

Perhaps all this exposure, which arrived after a month of stonewalling and hiding, was a coincidence, or perhaps an acknowledgment that the organization believes it is time to make nice with the paying public again or toss a bone in its direction.

Whatever the case, we don't know much more than we did before, but at least there were some quote marks to put around the guesswork this time. What we really don't know is why it took so long to lay out the reason for Jackson's release - or the team's spin on it, anyway - if the answer was as simple as Kelly makes it out to be.

According to the coach, there was nothing nefarious about his silence. He said he didn't call a news conference to talk about the releases of Patrick Chung or Jason Avant, either, indicating those were parallel situations in his mind.

Maybe they were. Maybe he looked at Jackson and saw an undersize receiver whose production could be replaced, whose ability in the red zone is limited by his height, and whose contract would have been out of line this season. Asked about Jackson's drop-off in production at the end of last season and in the playoffs, Kelly basically shrugged and said: "People covered him."

That's fine, although opponents will likely try the same thing with the Eagles wide receivers this season. If that was indeed the basis for Kelly's decision, and those were the reasons he wants to put forward, that's great. What wasn't great was allowing the perception to fester concerning Jackson's alleged gang ties based on the timing of the release.

If there was nothing there - at least nothing that swayed a decision supposedly made at the end of the season - they should have stood up and said so. Whatever you think of Jackson, who is high-maintenance at best, he didn't deserve that.

Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane has reported there was a difference of opinion within the organization regarding how to handle the fallout from the decision - what to say and what not to say. Until this week, the organization decided to go with Kelly's preference, which was to treat Jackson's release the same as Chung's and say nothing. The coach gets his way these days.

For those who didn't understand letting value walk out the door, Kelly said: "It adds up for us, and that's the most important point," which was a positively Reid-ian, me-to-know-you-to-find-out response.

Roseman, during his predraft availability, said he would consider moving anyone on the roster to get more picks or improve draft position, but only if the value in return made sense. That's why releasing Jackson, even if he was not a perfect fit for Kelly, is still a perplexing decision. Now the Eagles, who had plenty of cap space to accommodate Jackson's salary, are forced to use one or more of their six picks for a replacement, which leaves fewer chances to shore up the sagging defense.

Well, it added up to them, and after the burst of chatter from the organization this week, that is all we are really left with.

In the end, as Andy Reid found out eventually here, and as Kelly knows already, if you win, it doesn't matter what you say. And, if you lose, it doesn't matter what you say.

The final judgment on the organization's decision with Jackson and on its direction in the draft - Roseman made the drafting of a much-needed safety sound like a decided long shot, for instance - won't be made based on the words within the quote marks. (Or the ones outside them.) If the plan works, the Eagles were right. If not, they were wrong.

It just shouldn't take five weeks to say that, either.


bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports

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