Lurie: DeSean Not a Good Fit In Chip’s Offense

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets

Jeffrey Lurie’s impressions of DeSean Jackson’s on-field performance in 2013 seems to be different than that of most other observers.

Speaking at the Eagles’ 18th annual playground build at Prince Hall Elementary School in North Philadelphia, the team’s owner addressed Jackson’s release for the first time.

“Really it was a football decision,” Lurie said. “Chip [Kelly] and his people were incredibly clear that for us to get better, we needed to take a step back and reconfigure the wide receiver position. Common to a lot of really smart coaches, he knows exactly what he wants at every position. And for Chip on offense, it just wasn’t a good fit. It just was not a good fit for what he asks for wide receivers to do. He can explain that to you, but it just was not a fit. He was so clear that we had to get better.”

Jackson finished last year with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He was one of three players in the NFL to catch 80+ balls, average at least 16.0 yards per reception and score nine-plus times. The others were Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon.

Pressed to explain how he could say Jackson didn’t fit, given the numbers, Lurie said: “He wants us to be a better offense. And I know you can say statistically that, ‘Gee, you lose DeSean. How can you be a better offense?’ If you add Nick Foles last year and say how can you be a better offense, it was a record-setting offense. So I think with Chip, I just give him the benefit of the doubt. And he knows what he wants. And he knows how to get there. And I really believe that it’s an organization that absolutely supports the direction we’re going. And that’s the best way to be, everyone in it together. I think Chip’s always gonna not just base things on statistics, but how you’re gonna perform and how you’re gonna perform in the playoffs and where do you get to your ultimate goal? What’s the best chance?

“It wasn’t based on one player. It’s how can we make the offense overall better. And I think that there’s so many opportunities to accomplish what Chip wants to accomplish that he’s… extremely excited about where we’re headed.”

One thing was clear from Lurie: This was Kelly’s call. The Eagles’ owner also revealed that the decision to part ways with Jackson was made pretty much as soon as the season was over.

“Usually at the end of every season… Chip’s no different, the coach will always discuss chemistry of the team, how he wants to improve it, what he wants for next year, what he wants to maximize his offense, his defense, his special teams,” Lurie said. “And it became clear at the end of the year he wanted to certainly go at the wide receiver position differently. Once that decision was made, it was just a matter of whether we were gonna be able to make any kind of trade. And when it was obvious that there were gonna be no trade offers, the fair thing to the player was to release him. But in today’s NFL, it’s not surprising that that would happen. With double-digit contracts, you don’t see players getting traded these days. You see them getting released.”

Asked about whether he was concerned about any of Jackson’s off-the-field decisions, Lurie said: “We’re always concerned with everybody. It’s about the whole health of the individual player. And it’s always a concern for everybody, not just DeSean. You value character. You value preparedness. You value everything that goes into trying to create champions. You value that with every player, but no, not specifically.”

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  • Adam

    In Chip We Trust…. For now.

    • Ark87

      Yep, if it happened as they claim, Chip is reaallly sticking his neck out on this one, especially if it doesn’t work out well…what’s the saying….If it’s not broke….

      • Not broke in the NFL = Superbowl win to me. Until then “tinker” all you want.

        • Ark87

          Perhaps it’s possible that the offense is fine and maybe the best way to improve our offensive numbers is getting our defense off the field on 3rd down? As a mathematician I’ve always been a bigger fan of addition by addition, myself.

    • Mike J

      I think we’re all forgetting the 14 year tenure of Andy Reid. If Chip took a Reid Dumpster Fire and made it a playoff team in year one…I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in year two (and farther for that matter).

      • Adam

        I’m not forgetting anything. In the NFL it’s a “what have you done for me lately” league, especially when it comes to coaches. Chip did great last season, and we’re all excited and greatful, but continued success is expected and required.

  • ray jay

    Hey, let’s just be happy Chip has a vision for what we wants out of the WR position.

  • Scott J

    I think it came down to Jackson taking off plays, his lack of blocking downfield, and disappearing in the last few games. I’m sure Kelly saw drives that stalled because of Jackson.

    • SuM

      Chip also had to abandon the bubble screen because DeSean couldn’t keep the Dbacks honest.

  • gil

    Jackson was terrible in the last three games of the season.

    DeSean only had 3 catches against Dallas in NFC East Championship game.

    DeSean only had 3 catches in Saints playoff game.

    DeSean was certainly not worth the $10 million they would have paid him this season.

    • anon

      they aren’t doing anything else with the money so who cares how much he costs — he wasn’t keeping anyone else from getting paid.

      • gil

        How do you know what they will do with that DeSean $10 million they will save?

        • Jernst

          People forget that you can roll it forward and that we’re projected to be tighter against the cap with a multitude of players coming up for extensions. It remains to be seen if it makes a difference financially, but I’m sure it’s something Howie is all over.

          • yoant702

            Howie all over it? Really? Lol. Dude is a tard!

      • peteike

        exactly, Im not buying the money thing. They could have just released him after this next season. Barely any FAs left worth discussing although Im sure some will get picked up. Just feels like that phase had its time. The draft is all rookie contracts. It was def a character/football/fit issue.

        • Amar

          Completely agree, I buy the money argument (from fans) only if they are using the money to acquire an FA or extend an existing contract. So, don’t tell me he wasn’t worth 10 mil. Is your beer at Lincoln financial field going to be $5 now that Desean is gone. I don’t think so.

          • ochospantalones

            I’m still waiting on my refund check from Jeffrey Lurie.

      • Jernst

        We’ll have to wait till next year to see if they are or are not going to do anything else with the money. Now that you can roll unused cap space forward, that extra $16million next year might make all the difference.

  • Tracer Bullet

    I’m not sure which is more distressing: That Lurie believes this bullshit or that he expects me to believe it.

  • distantfires

    translation: if you get into televised, mid-game, sideline shouting matches w/ your position coach, you may not have a future with this organization.

  • gil

    Okay….Jackson is now on the Redskins….Eagles will be First place again.

  • TripSquadMonopoly

    He has a vision he likes big WRs…So lets release a top 10 wideout and a top 3 deep threat for no compensation.

    • GW.Fisher

      He also had a vision that he could use a slow, immobile QB and a slow career backup WR to create a top 5 offense. So I’ll wait til the season starts to play out before I go back to thinking I’m smarter than Chip…

  • B-West

    I’ve tried to avoid most of the comment sections on these articles, but specifically on the fit issues… It adds up to me more than others it seems. He’s undersized, he’s not a good blocker, he’s often not a willing blocker, and he’s not that great at making people miss.

    He’s the best in the league at running away from defenders, but he rarely made people miss. I don’t remember him doing much with any of the bubble screens last season (I’m sure there are stats on this). I often felt like he went the wrong way off the block he was getting.

    • I agree with you. It bothered me a little in the Dallas game at the end of the season when Jackson got stood up on the goal line. We need big receivers who can use strength and size to get in the endzone in those situations.

    • Jernst

      Agree completely. His skills do not fit what Chip wants to do. He’s not good in traffic. He looks to run away and get out of bounds. Chip needs a guy that can break an arm tackle and get YAC and take the football back inside if needed. He needs WRs that can beat press man consistently in short areas of the field(and size is the easiest way to beat press man on quick routes). Chip doesn’t want to have Foles hold the ball for 4-5 seconds while DeSean runs a 50 yard post across the field. That’s a low percentage play that’s great when it works but can’t be counted on like a quick post or hitch. Chip wants WRs that demolish DBs with their blocking so when McCoy gets in the open field those plays go for TDs not 20 yards. DeSean is great at what he does, but he’s none of these things.

  • Rick H

    Over the years I have watched and listened to Lurie. Say what you want but he is very smart! He can make sincere articulate points that are also factual without trashing anyone.
    This is very impressive by Lurie. I always ask myself if I were being interviewed or asked questions (in any position or company) how would I answer the questions. So evaluating Jeff Lurie he gets an A+!

  • TNA

    One of the ongoing narratives has been – how are the Eagles going to replace DeSean’s production from CK Season 1?
    I think an appropriate corollary is – how many yards did CK’s offense give up by playing DeSean? What is the counterfactual?
    Yes, DeSean did “everything (CK) asked of him.” However, that’s simply maximizing talent available to you. How many of CK’s play calling options were grayed out because of DeSean?

    • Jernst

      Exactly. Towards the end of the year when teams had a chance to kind of figure us out, everyone played us the same way. Single high safety shaded to DeSean’s side, press man coverage and 7-8 in the box at all times. And, while our offense still moved, it was not humming along dropping 35+ points like Chip wants it to. DeSean was quiet, McCoy’s numbers dipped and we were dealt an early exit from the play offs. Chip saw this and wanted to find a way to beat this look.

      Beating this look requires WRs who are physically like TO, good at getting separation within 2-3 seconds who can consistently beat press man, make a catch, break a tackle and get YAC. DeSean does not excel at this at all and there was no way to improve the WR core in that respect with his huge salary. Either you moved DeSean and worked at finding people that could consistently beat that look or you’d have the same problem come January next year.

      • Coatesvillain

        I can understand this logic if the Eagles were returning the same WR core this season. But they knew that Maclin was coming back.

        Wouldn’t defenses be unable to defend the Eagles the same way because Jackson has Maclin across for them? I just think that if what you’re saying is how Chip Kelly is thinking (and it could be) that Chip sees Maclin as ultimately a complementary WR (and I wouldn’t disagree with that).

        I just don’t see why they couldn’t move on from Cooper and draft a WR instead if it was purely football reasons.

        • Jernst

          I don’t know their exact thinking I can only guess, but my feeling is that it’s multifactorial. One the plan was never for Maclin and DeSean to be on the field at the same time. The plan is for Maclin and a bigger WR to be on the field, not Maclin and a smaller fast WR.

          Regardless of who is across from DeSean, DeSean still doesn’t fit. DeSean still will have trouble getting off the jam quickly and operating in traffic. He will still be less than ideal on quick screens, crossing patterns, hitches, fades and seam routes (all quick hitting plays). And, he’ll still be a liability while blocking out on the perimeter decreasing the ability for McCoy to take one the distance.

          If DeSean and Maclin are both on the field at the same time and I’m the defensive coordinator, I play the Eagles the same way. I load the box to minimize McCoys space to operate and his ability to hurt me with the run and I dare the Eagles to beat me with the pass. I play press man on both Maclin and DeSean and I play a single high safety shaded to DeSean’s side.

          DeSean is effectively neutralized for the majority of the game with this look. He’ll occasionally blow by someone that made a false step or mistake and make a huge play, but you won’t be able to count on that (especially against good competition – see the playoffs).

          Maclin will have press coverage on the other side, but shouldn’t require being doubled on every play. He’s capable of beating this look and running more complete route trees against this look than Jackson, but he’s certainly not some HOF talent that can single handed make the offense move. No, the offense is at maximum efficiency when both WR can beat this look on a fairly consistent basis.

          Put someone that can physically dominate a corner in press man, that runs good routes in short tight spaces and gets separation quickly AND can fight through traffic and pick up yards after the catch (think someone like TO) and now the offense can combat that look and actually is in a favorable matchup against such a look.

          Now the other team has to use LBs and safeties to guard the middle of the field and the hitch and the slant against a big guy that will catch the ball and stiff arm the CB to the ground and be off to the races. Now that they’re worried about that, things start to open up for McCoy. Once they’re looking for the WR on the slant and McCoy on the play action you add the TEs in and the offense really starts to hum.

          You’re losing DeSean’s ability to take it to the house once a game, but your gaining a dimension that allows you to consistently move the ball at will against the preferred method of defending our offense which opens up everything else, forces the defense to play you in a way that works to our advantage and not in a way that stifles what we do best. Also, you’re now gaining extra yards when McCoy breaks the first level and the WR can actually dominate the DB with a block.

          • Jernst

            The addition of Sproles is similarly geared towards beating this look we saw so often. He excels at beating man coverage with excellent short area quickness and getting open in a split second, once the balls in his hands he’s able to make someone miss in the open field and pick up the first or more. This is exactly what the Eagles lacked last year against single high man coverage.

            DeSean is not great at making people miss, he rarely takes off over the middle of the field and instead looks to get out of bounds as quick as possible. If he’s not running away from you he’s not effective. This eliminates areas of the field he can effectively attack and limits what defenders, particularly safeties and LBs have to worry about. He needs time to run across the field for 50+ yards for his speed to create the separation he needs. If you disrupt his release with a bump you add further to this time. If you dedicate the deep safety to staying over top, you can effectively take away his biggest asset. We need two WR that can challenge the center of the field and make plays in traffic and move the chains to make this dare the pass to beat you defense used against us obsolete.

          • Maggie

            Very interesting and detailed analysis of the position and the shortcomings of the recently released WR. Wordy but interesting. ;~)

          • Tom W

            Nice take. Sounds like latimer or Robinson to me, but chip may be enamored w lee. Me think we try to trade back and draft a big wr and edge rusher and ilb in first 5 Rds

          • Jernst

            My thoughts as well! I get the impression that Chip feels that his offense, if given the right pieces and people able to accomplish what he wants, is capable of putting up 35+ points on everybody, week in and week out. I also believe that he knows he needs a specific type of player at WR to make that happen. He needs a specific type of WR that can consistently beat man coverage. Being an offense first guy who’s entire strategy of winning football games is blowing people away with his offense and having his defense make enough opportunistic plays to get the ball back to his offense, he will make that happen…I’d be highly surprised if the first pick off the board for us isn’t a WR.

          • BrettConnolly

            So, I’m completely on board with everything you said. My question is therefore going to be completely hypothetical. How does Sammy Watkins grade in terms of filling that offensive role. It’s hypothetical because it’s not, “could the Birds land him, etc.” Just- is Sammy Watkins ideally suited to carry out Chip’s offensive objective as you’ve eloquently defined. I’m actually masking my actual question, to be frank. I think it’s just as relevant to discuss based on Watkins.

          • Jernst

            I think Watkins would certainly excell in that roll as would someone like Evans, Robinson and potentially Latimer.

          • brza

            “DeSean is not great at making people miss, he rarely takes off over the
            middle of the field and instead looks to get out of bounds as quick as
            possible. If he’s not running away from you he’s not effective. This
            eliminates areas of the field he can effectively attack and limits what
            defenders, particularly safeties and LBs have to worry about.”
            The exact same thing can be said about ‘Self-tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin.

          • brza

            If 1332 yards and 22 20+ yard plays isn’t a fit then what are the rest of the WRs still on the roster who gained a grand total of 943 yards? Sorry, I just don’t buy the “football reasons” excuse. Never will.

  • NCBiRDMann22

    “Big people beat up little people” plain and simple! No go get me a monster to end this argument forever.

  • Joe from Easton

    “I think Chip’s always gonna not just base things on statistics, but how you’re gonna perform and how you’re gonna perform in the playoffs….”
    ^^^^ This quote says it all ^^^^

    • gil

      …..”but how you’re gonna perform and how you’re gonna perform in the playoffs….”

      Yes, it’s how awful DeSean performed in big games.

      DeSean was completely shut-out in the last 3 games, which were BIGGEST games of the entire year:

      Bears Game…..DeSean had only 4 catches with ZERO touchdowns.

      Dallas Championship Game…DeSean only 3 catches with ZERO touchdowns.

      Saints Play Off Game….DeSean only 3 catches with ZERO touchdowns.

      DeSean was awful in the BIGGEST games of the year.

  • Brandon Baltic

    “Once that decision was made, it was just a matter of whether we were gonna be able to make any kind of trade. And when it was obvious that there were gonna be no trade offers, the fair thing to the player was to release him. But in today’s NFL, it’s not surprising that that would happen. With double-digit contracts, you don’t see players getting traded these days.”

    Hats off to Lurie to actually giving us quite a bit of an explanation on the move, but the thing that didn’t sit well with me then and still doesn’t sit well with me now is the timing. If it’s not so surprising that they couldn’t get any trade offers on him, why not release him at the start of free agency so you can use his money on other pieces to make you better (e.g. Ware or Byrd)?

    It just doesn’t make much football sense to get rid of a guy, who even if he wasn’t a good fit at the position clearly was a playmaker on offense, and get ZERO value in return for him (either by trade or by signing FAs using his cap money). If they miscalculated his trade market and he’s not a fit, why not just keep him for 1 more year and cut him next year? You could still draft rookies anyway and cut his playing time if need be. From a purely football perspective, what’s the downside to keeping him 1 more year? Is 1 roster spot really that valuable? Just doesn’t make much sense.

    • Jernst

      They didn’t not go after Ward or Byrd because of cap restraints. DeSean’s cap savings would not have made one bit of difference in our pursuit, or lack there of, in other FAs. The good thing about DeSean’s cap savings is the ability to roll it forward and increase our cap space exponentially over the next 2-3 years for when were ready to make our run. Here’s a great site explaining how it works under the new CBA and how much of an advantage it could give a team.

      • Brandon Baltic

        I know how the cap works under the new CBA. You cannot roll over cap space exponentially. Once you roll over cap space into the next year you have to then get back under the cap the following year. It’s only a 1 year benefit. They cannot roll over DeSean’s cap savings into next year because they already rolled over a bunch of money from last year. Therefore, 6m of his cap savings is just going to be unspent and wasted. I guarantee you there could have been a player or players they could have signed at the beginning of FA for 6m to make this team better. Now they are gone.

        The only thing they are saving by cutting him this year is the dead money hit of 4m. They are getting that out of the way this year rather then next year if they were to cut him next year. I’m sorry, but in a pure football sense bad position fit or not, DeSean is worth more to this team in 1 year then 4m of cap savings.

        • Jernst

          Unfortunately, you could not possibly be more wrong, Brandon. And, you don’t know how the cap works under the new CBA. Here is a great explanation to catch you up:

          • Brandon Baltic

            Ahh you are right. My apologies. They can keep rolling cap space forward. Forgive me for not trusting some random Raiders forum on how the carryover rules work. After some research on the CBA (which was much harder then it should have been due to the lack of info on the topic) I found a site that explained it much better with more reputable sources:

            To be a nitpicker you can’t grow your cap exponentially by rolling over, only linearly, but nevertheless your point still stands. That 6m won’t go to waste. Maybe this move isn’t so bad after all.

    • GW.Fisher

      That $$$ they saved gets rolled into next year, and if Foles is your guy then he’s going to command big bucks. A cheaper WR more in the Kelly mold fits the salary structure going forward the next 4 years, and this class is DEEP in wideouts. If you’re ever going to do irt now’s the perfect time to adjust the cap, so to speak…

      • Brandon Baltic

        It’s not getting rolled into next year. See my comment above. Their so-called “cap space” this year is all roll over space from last year. They’ll need to get back under the cap next year. DeSean’s money is not going to be saved.

        • GW.Fisher

          $6M cap hit this year, which would be a cap hit next year if they waited.

          • Brandon Baltic

            Yup you are right sir. My apologies.

  • GW.Fisher

    Guess Brandon Cooks just went off our board…

  • Ih8cheifboyrREID

    When will people get it thru there heads? MEsean is a 1TRICK PONY…PERIOD!! If he is not running past you, he is not a threat at all! And it’s not just the playoffs when he fails to be a factor in the games. Whenever the Eagles play an above average defense, or an above average corner MEsean straight up is a NON FACTOR! Just look at the game log from last season… Mesean vs KC ( 3catches 60yards), vs Denver (3catches 34yards), Dallas (3catches 21yards), Arizona (3catches 36yards), vs Chicago (4catches 29yards), vs Dallas AGAIN (3catches 28yards)… Not to mention he has not gone across the middle since Dunta Robinson knocked his head off 4 YEARS AGO!! There are sooooo many “small WRs” that run ALL the routes MEsean refuses to run like Cobb, Cruz, Welker, Amendola, Edelmen, Steve Smith, Antoino Brown, Harvin, and Santana Moss. And NONE of them make 10mill per year. MEsean’s big games come against below average/god awful teams! In closing, I challenge anyone on here to name a top 10 elite WR thatis basically a no-show in all big games/playoff games? I’ll wait…

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I’m sure that DeSean didn’t make matters any better for himself when he skipped out on his post season exit interview with Kelly. That could very well have been the final nail in the coffin. And yes that’s still a “football” reason, as it speaks to his true dedication to the team as a whole.

  • ochospantalones

    If only they had thought to cut DeSean last August maybe they would have won the Super Bowl last year. Chip has a lot to answer for, leaving those extra wins on the table.