DeSean Jackson Decision More Foolish Than Prudent
[Note from Vince: This piece is a counter to my article from yesterday. Expect us to verbally duke it out in a podcast this week!]
Why did the Eagles release DeSean Jackson? He’s a locker room distraction. He’s cocky. He’s lazy. He’s a bad influence. He’s a gang member. Most important of all, he does not fit in with the Eagles culture.
What is the Eagles culture and what exactly about it does Jackson not suit? All of those tag lines about Jackson listed above that explain why he was released are rather ambiguous.
Here’s the concrete stuff.
He recorded 82 receptions, 1,332 yards, nine touchdowns and a 16.2 ypc average in 2013 as the team’s most utilized and targeted receiving option.
It is not entirely clear what culture the Eagles are looking to build, but the above facts about Jackson seem rather congruent with a winning one.
Jackson has been rather consistent since his rookie year. That holds true on and off the field and up until this incident, the Eagles have not expressed any dire concerns about Jackson or his character.
He has had some of the same contract squabbles that every player of his caliber has and he’s gotten into heated exchanges on the sidelines like a ton of hot headed competitive individuals, but in the grand scheme of things there really has not been anything to make anyone believe he was cancerous to a locker room.
Although Chip Kelly and the front office has decided to use the veil of silence on this one, they are sending a strong message. Their silence implies that Jackson was cancerous to their team. Production is not a valid excuse because he was the most productive receiver in one of the leagues’ most productive offenses. To paint someone as a cancer is a very serious claim because it leaves a stain on that person that they cannot easily erase.
It is a slap in the face because it implies that as an organization you were not able to reach your goals and will not be able to reach your goals because of Jackson’s mere presence. That is a baseless and unfair characterization for someone who averaged over 1,000 yards per season for you over six years. That is a rather perplexing claim considering he was a key cog on a team that outperformed all of our expectations and won 10 games a season ago.
The “building a culture,” excuse is one of the lamest excuses being floated around at the moment. Kelly has to learn that despite all of his year one success, this is not college. This is a business.
There are no trophies handed out at the end of the year for the team with the best locker room culture. Practice doesn’t have to break down with a team wide singing of ‘Kumbaya My Lord.’
In the professional ranks, production trumps culture. If it was all about the locker room culture, players like Brian Dawkins would never be allowed to leave an organization. For that matter, players like Jason Avant, who was cut this off-season, would still have jobs. Players like Michael Vick would never receive second chances either and cancers like Jackson would not have new deals just a few days after getting cut.
It sounds funny for a team to release a player looking to build a better locker room culture when just a year prior they came to the defense of a player who ignorantly used a racial slur that applied to and offended the overwhelming majority of his locker room.
The idea of having a wonderful locker room culture is great, but winning is better. Winning is what builds great locker rooms. It is not the other way around.
When Jackson put pen to paper in Washington, a team in the division got better as the Eagles got worse. It was downright foolish for the Eagles to allow that to happen when it did not have to.
The numbers that Jackson put up last season will not just regenerate out of thin air. Of all the weapons on the Eagles’ offense, Jackson was the only player that made the game easier for everyone around him including a quarterback with a below average arm and little experience.
Riley Cooper would have come nowhere near the numbers that he had if Jackson was not on the other side commanding double teams and safety help over the top. Remember when Zach Ertz and Brent Celek were running free across the middle with nothing but green around them. That does not happen if Jackson is not running clear out routes down the sidelines.
Jeremy Maclin is a great wide receiver, but even he does not command that type of attention. Jackson’s speed is a rare gift that he has and it fits perfectly into what Kelly’s offense is all about. There are not even a handful of receivers across the league that can run clear through a Cover 2 defense and the Eagles had one of the few.
As people praise the Eagles for their decision basing it on their bravery and conviction, it is hard not to liken it to a situation from 10 years ago. The team let another receiver talent walk away in the prime of his career. Terrell Owens was released. It happened because he did not fit the culture of the team. The team won with him on the field and happy.
Well maybe it makes sense. He did not fit the culture and the Eagles were certainly not a winning culture. After his release the Eagles had a better locker room which came with a few years of futility as a team.
The two scenarios are very different, but could have a similar result in the end.
Even if you agree with the Eagles’ decision to rid themselves of Jackson, you must be baffled by how they did it. Jackson should have been cut when the Eagles were resigning all of their free agents. That’s the treatment Avant (a good locker room guy) received so why not Jackson?
That would have allowed the Eagles to use the freed up cap space to fill even more holes in free agency. The team also could have gone the route of waiting til the draft to unload him on a team that missed out on the receiver they wanted to draft.
Kelly and Howie Roseman are lucky to be able to hide behind the success they had last season. That is making Eagles fans just sort of accept this with a smile but there is no way to look at this move and think that it made good business sense or football sense for that matter.
What the Eagles’ brass needs to realize is that fans are not clamoring for the NFL’s happiest locker room. They are yearning for a Super Bowl. The Eagles did not make that an impossible task. However, they did just make it a lot harder.
Posted on April 3, 2014, in Eagles, Ray Boyd and tagged Chip Kelly, Desean Jackson, DeSean Jackson released, DeSean Jackson Trade Rumors, Eagles, Howie Roseman, Jeremy Maclin, riley cooper, Washington Redskins. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.