Until Saturday morning, no Eagles player had spoken out publicly in defense of their former teammate DeSean Jackson.
But that changed when LeSean McCoy addressed reporters while taking a break from his football camp at Camden Catholic High School.
"It’s a surprise for sure," McCoy said when asked for his reaction. "I think anybody that tells you that they’re happy about it, I don’t know how honest that would be. It was a surprise. You heard so much, you didn’t really know. Not playing with him this year is gonna definitely be different. And playing against him is really gonna be different. I just imagine all the times we used to… knowing defensive teams are gonna try to defend us and different things like that, and now we’ve gotta defend against him, so it’s gonna be a little different.
"It’s some big shoes to fill. DeSean was by far one of the best playmakers in the game and the biggest deep threat there is in the game. So some big shoes to fill for sure. But then again, I think the front office, obviously they know what they’re doing. If you’re making moves like that, you obviously have something up your sleeve where you know you can get something that’s similar or even better."
Asked specifically about a CBS Philly report that said Jackson had a contentious relationship with Chip Kelly and cussed him out in front of the team, McCoy said: "I’ve never seen that. I’ve never seen them two really get into it. Coach Kelly, the good thing I will say about him is he’s understanding. So if there’s ever an issue or problem, he seems to always work it out."
The way Kelly worked this problem out was by releasing Jackson. As we've written all along, the bottom line is the head coach made the call that Jackson was more trouble than he was worth. Kelly obviously deemed the wide receiver replaceable and now will get the chance to prove he's correct.
McCoy said he has texted with Jackson and downplayed the idea that the former Eagle didn't fit the team's culture.
Asked why Jackson didn't connect with more of his teammates, McCoy said: "I wouldn’t really say that because I wouldn’t know. I’m his teammate, or I was his teammate, and we connected very well off the field. I think this game, everybody’s professionals. There’s guys that have kids, there’s guys that are a little older. DeSean doesn’t have any kids so small things on a team that you really notice. And off the field, I’ve bonded with DeSean."
As one of Jackson's friends on the team, did he ever talk to him about making changes and doing things differently?
"For one thing, DeSean’s been here longer than me," McCoy said. "I think two is you’re asking me something that I haven’t seen. What I did see of DeSean was just we hung out off the field, on the field, we talked, we texted. So when you say he didn’t bond with the team, I don’t know what that means because I was a teammate and we bonded."
McCoy didn't have an answer for why the team made the decision it did, but he offered support for Kelly and the front office.
"I’m not sure. I’m not sure why. I can’t answer that. I’m just a regular player. I don’t know why," he said.
Asked what the offense would look like without Jackson, McCoy added: "I wish I knew. I’m sure Howie [Roseman] and the guys, they have something up their sleeve. When you’re making moves like that, they obviously know something, and I’ve got a lot of trust in them. I think with the team they put together so far, with bringing [Darren] Sproles in and making different moves and signing guys, they know what they’re doing. I just think losing DeSean, it’s definitely some big shoes to fill."
McCoy texted with Jackson before the team finally made the decision to release him. And he's communicated with Jackson since he signed with the Redskins.
"I think any player would be hurt," McCoy said. "You’ve basically been the face of the program I think since Donovan [McNabb] left. And he loved this city. But it’s a business. You have your feelings about the team. But you go in history, you’ll find so many different players leaving teams and that’s just how it works. So he’ll get over it eventually. But right now he’s going through it. Same with the Eagles. All them 10 jerseys out there every Sunday, they gotta get new jerseys now, so it’s the same thing.
"We gotta live on, we gotta play them guys. As much as I’m a friend, I can’t wait to go out there and beat on the Redskins, so it’s a mutual feeling. And I'm sure when he comes up to Philly, he wants to have a great game. So we’ll still be friends. We’ll still text and talk all the time - after the game, probably not before the game. But we’ll still be friends. Plus he got $16 million guaranteed. He’s not happy?"
Jackson is 27 and coming off a career year, yet the Eagles decided the best move for the future of the organization was to let him go. Surely, other players are going to notice that and wonder about their own futures with the team.
"I don’t know," McCoy said when asked what kind of message the move sends to the rest of the team. "You know that nobody’s safe in this game as far as being here forever. But then you feel like alright well I’ve established myself so much, I did so much. [But] anybody can go. So I think it just makes you straighten up a little bit more. Maybe things that you think that you can get away with, you can’t. And that’s how it is. It’s the NFL. And the best thing about it is he has a job and 32 teams will take you if one don’t."
While he certainly stuck up for Jackson, McCoy made it clear that he's still a fan of Kelly and thinks the head coach has the Eagles going in the right direction.
"Chip is different," he said. "He’s a cool guy. He’s honest. He likes hard work. And he’s respectful. We have a great relationship. I think people are getting the wrong picture like he cut one of his best players, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s just that was a decision they made. As far as personality-wise, Chip, he does well with everybody."