Jason Kelce has developed into a respected voice over his three-plus years in Philadelphia, so his comments regarding the team’s decision to move on from DeSean Jackson — delivered just 20 minutes after the receiver was cut — carried some weight.
We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn’t be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! #FlyEaglesFly
— Jason Kelce (@Jkelce) March 28, 2014
Some took this as evidence that Jackson's teammates were glad to see the enigmatic receiver go. This theory was bolstered by a report -- filled with anonymous quotes allegedly coming from various members of the organization -- suggesting Jackson was a "blatantly insubordinate" distraction that needed to be removed. Kelce was quick to distance himself from those who did not attach their names to their opinions ("You'll never see me hide behind the title 'Unnamed source,'" he said), and on Monday explained the intended meaning of his message as the clouds of controversy swirled outside the NovaCare walls.
"It was read into a lot. I really have no personal problems with DeSean. Never did when he was here," said Kelce following Monday's practice. "The main thing I was trying to do was, there was a whole fan base that was in an uproar right when it happened, and you knew it was going to happen because leading up to it there was people saying how negative it was going to be, how negative it was going to be. And all I was trying to say is, 'Listen, this team has been going in a great direction this whole offseason, let's not lose focus on what we've been trying to do the entire offseason. This one instance gets blown out of proportion when really the entire offseason we've had great direction, we've had great focus by our coaching staff and our organization, let's have trust in that.'"
Prior to the Jackson news dropping, the Eagles acquired Darren Sproles via trade and added safety Malcolm Jenkins in free agency. They also took care of some of their own, striking deals with Kelce, Jason Peters, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. They were identified as players the team wanted to build with moving forward. Jackson, clearly, not so much.
"Obviously DeSean has tremendous playmaking ability and I don't know that we have any receivers on the roster now who are quite as athletic or dynamic as he is," said Kelce. "But I think this whole thing is about a culture that we're trying to build here. And the organization felt it was time to move in a different direction. Probably a lot of that had to do with a multiplicity of factors. I don't think you can narrow it down to one thing."
With two offseasons worth of moves to analyze, we are gaining a better understanding of what Kelly wants. He is looking for certain measurables at each position. He values versatility. And he wants his guys wired a specific way.
"I think this culture Chip is trying to build, he's trying to get a lot of guys who are hungry to learn, driven, passionate about the game, smart," said Kelce. "I think he puts a lot of emphasis on guys being accountable and being good teammates because at the end of the day, accountability and consistency are usually what win football games."
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil with a running diary of Monday's practice, which included a Jeremy Maclin health scare. (He's OK.)
LeSean McCoy told us to check the numbers when declaring that he is a better back than Adrian Peterson, so we did.
Says Nick Foles: "If I don’t play well, it’s the NFL; you’ll be gone."
Expect Kelly and the offense to pick up the pace in Year 2, Kapadia writes.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jeff McLane wonders whether Carey Spear has a real chance of pushing Alex Henery for the kicking job.
I’d hate to kill “Muderleg” after just one bad kick, but his pull hook of a chip shot field goal during 11 on 11s makes me wonder if he has any legit shot to push Alex Henery. It was always going to be a long shot for the undrafted rookie to unseat a three-year veteran, but he hasn’t done anything during the two practices I’ve witnessed that has made me go, ‘Wow.’ Last spring, when punter Donnie Jones starting booting sky-high punts, it was evident that undrafted rookie Brad Wing had no chance to win that job. Carey Spear deserves more time and the Eagles will surely give it to him, but the whole kicker competition seems like a façade right know. Spear’s field goal was from about 30 yards out. He hooked it at least ten yards wide left, missed the building that’s behind that field goal and sailed the ball into the parking lot.
Brandon Lee Gowton from BGN offered his observations from Monday's session.
-- Mark Sanchez seemed to struggle again today. The biggest issue I've seen with him is overthrowing his receivers when aiming towards the sideline. To Sanchez's credit, he made a really good pump fake to the left before turning around and throwing right for a short screen pass to TE James Casey for a nice gain.
-- Ifeanyi Momah, everyone's favorite 6-8 WR, had two catches that stood out to me today. The first one was in traffic down the field with Brandon Boykin all over him. The second came on a play-action roll-out where Sanchez found Momah open along the sideline. Momah is still a long-shot to make the Eagles roster, but at the least he looks improved from last year. Perhaps he could earn a practice squad spot this year.
More from our time at NovaCare Monday, including an update on Lane Johnson.