What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Who was responsible for last year's fiasco?

Chip owners meetings

Photo: USA Today Sports.

This year’s owners meetings provided the Philadelphia media with the first opportunity to question Chip Kelly since his firing in December of last year, and also opened up Doug Pederson to an hour of questions.

Here is the latest on what we learned at the coaches breakfasts, as well as the owners meetings as a whole.

Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com sees Doug Pederson’s offense as a great opportunity for growth from Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor.

Earlier this month, Pederson was asked about the Eagles’ wide receivers. This was before the signing of Givens, so the question was about the young trio of Agholor, [JordanMatthews and [Josh] Huff. Pederson’s answer was telling.

“Obviously, we’re happy where we are currently today,” Pederson said. “The draft is coming up, which is a big evaluation process. We have three tremendous tight ends on the roster, four that are going to compete for those roster spots there. With the three young receivers that we have, we feel like we can be a dynamic offense in the National Football League.”

It’s not a coincidence that Pederson answered a question about wide receivers by talking about tight ends. In Andy Reid’s offense, the goal was to pass protect with the five offensive linemen and get everyone else out in pass patterns. If Ertz lines up in the slot, he will be essentially a wide receiver. It’s a shift in how the coach views his players.

Kelly liked big, physical wide receivers who could block in the run game. DeSean Jackson was released after one season. In Reid’s offense, which is similar to Pederson’s, Jackson thrived. His ability to make big plays was more important than his weakness as a lead blocker.

Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk thinks Pederson can have success by keeping aspects of Kelly’s offense.

Pederson comes from years working with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, whose offenses have never been mistaken for the up-tempo scheme that Kelly implemented in Philadelphia over the last three years. While Pederson will be using a different overall philosophy on offense, he said he’s been “intrigued by the tempo” and plans to keep some aspects of Kelly’s system in place.

We’ll see how it all works out on the field, but it’s hard to argue with a coaching approach that seeks to incorporate things that the personnel does well. Every coach is going to have their own preferences for how to run an offense, but being too rigid about what does or doesn’t fit makes little sense when faced with the realities of plugging your players into the lineup.

Alex Chassan of SB Nation believes the Eagles’ moves this offseason connote a philosophical shift from Kelly’s program back to a more “family” environment that persisted before his arrival.

Everyone knows that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, and for a while, the Eagles lived up to that nickname. But that kind of camaraderie was lacking during Chip Kelly’s time with the team as he dismantled the locker room bond with each offseason trade. The tides are turning under first-time head coach Doug Pederson who, along with executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman, is making moves to create relationships that translate to on-the-field success.

After a lot of offseason speculation, the Eagles reached an agreement to keep Sam Bradford in Philly for two more seasons. With only one year under his belt with the team, he hadn’t developed the chemistry that quarterbacks need with their offensive weapons to be consistently successful. That is starting to change after his contract extension.

Shortly after signing his new deal, Bradford invited tight end Zach Ertz and wideout Jordan Matthews to his home in Oklahoma City in mid-March. Bradford talked about bringing out others, too, noting it’s more than just working out together, “I just think spending the time together at this time of the year is the most important thing.” These types of bonding activities seemed few and far between during the Kelly era.

Scott Davis of Business Insider finds Kelly’s testimony to be a denial of responsibility for last season’s failures.

It’s hard to take Kelly at his word because all indications were that, last offseason, the Eagles gave Kelly complete personnel control, relegating [Howie] Roseman to handle the cap implications of the team. Perhaps Kelly wasn’t involved in coming to contract numbers with free agents, but by the same token, since Kelly’s departure, the Eagles have been applauded for shedding contracts and getting back assets this offseason. Many of the moves have been seen as acts to tear down the Kelly era.

It’s a damning picture for both sides. Kelly clearly won’t own up to his failures, and it’s a bad look to say that he evaluated players and said who was good but then say he had no control over personnel. On the other end, the Eagles clearly didn’t work out a chain of communication with the front office, and seemingly handing the keys to one person — Kelly, in this case — is never a successful formula.

Kelly, hired by the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, praised that team’s front office, seemingly taking a final, departing shot at the Eagles.

NFL.com’s Conor Orr is similarly displeased with Kelly’s rhetoric.

Kelly seems to be playing the NFL’s most annoying game of semantics at this point, and really no side will ever come away with the closure they are looking for. If [JeffreyLurie is right and Kelly demanded personnel control, then the failed experiment is on Kelly’s shoulders. He should have known that ousting an executive who would still be in charge of a vital portion of the operation would put everyone in a terrible spot. More than anything, coaching is a CEO-type role in today’s NFL.

If Kelly is telling the truth and Lurie insisted on the move, then shame on him for the same reason.

What Wednesday’s development shows us is the power of a good relationship between coaching, personnel and ownership. There is a reason the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Cardinals, Patriots, Bengals, Packers and Seahawks never seem completely out of the race. There is a reason the Browns are trying to re-think the NFL’s front-office structure and place a proven mediator between ownership, personnel and coaching to avoid devastating arguments. Anything is possible when everyone is moving in the right direction.

Dave Zangaro of CSN Philly paints an ominous picture of Kelly’s tenure with the Eagles.

But maybe the Chip Kelly experiment was doomed to fail in large part because of the power structure the organization implemented around him.

On Wednesday, Kelly revealed that after he was given personnel control in 2015 — control over the 90-man roster, as he says — he rarely spoke with Howie Roseman, who, while banished from personnel decisions, still orchestrated the Eagles’ salary cap.

That means two of the team’s top officials rarely communicated directly.

“I never really saw him, so I don’t know what he did on a daily basis,” Kelly said.

Kelly said it was a “weird situation” because Roseman was the general manager for the first two years, and then was stripped of that power and subsequently banished to the other side of the NovaCare Complex.

Lane Johnson ranks 9th among the best top-five picks since 2012, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt.

Johnson has started 44 games in his three-year career, and he’s played left and right tackle. A former high school quarterback, Johnson is a good athlete and very strong. In January, Johnson inked a six-year deal with $35.5 million guaranteed to stay in Philly.