Chip Kelly Finally Speaks On DeSean Jackson Release
Chip Kelly met with reporters today as the Eagles helped to build a local playground in Philadelphia. Kelly finally cleared the air on DeSean Jackson’s somewhat soap opera of a release from the team. Kelly feverishly avoided adding to the drama as he characterized the decision as purely about football.
While all of his reasoning is indeed valid, his and the organization’s handling of the release did a real disservice to Jackson.
Kelly made it clear that this was a football only decision. He characterized Jackson as a good player for him and made it clear that no off the field actions led to this decision.
He refuted that it had anything to do with anything that the media said regarding gangs, partying or Instagram. Kelly also shot down rumors that Jackson was outright disrespectful to him in meetings or on the practice field.
“It was purely a football decision,” Kelly said. “It had nothing to do with off the field behaviors. DeSean came to practice everyday and gave us everything we asked him to give.”
Kelly also went on to explain that the Eagles had no suitors for Jackson at the Owner’s meetings and made the decision to release him right after. He claimed that it would have been unfair to Jackson to hold onto him any longer and that he wanted the Pro Bowl wideout to have a chance to sign with any of the 31 other teams.
When asked why it took so long to explain the move to the fans, considering that it was just a football decision, Kelly explained that he doesn’t feel the need to explain immediately following a release why the team made the decision.
“Did I have a press conference when we released Jason Avant or Patrick Chung,” Kelly asked. “No, that’s not the way I am. I didn’t see you guys clamoring when we released those guys.”
From a football perspective, the move seems confusing and Kelly admitted that he is not surprised that many fans are upset to see Jackson go, especially to a divisional rival. Kelly expressed a desire to go in another direction at the wide receiver position.
The team appears to be expressing the feeling that the position reached its ceiling with Jackson as the lead guy. The group may not be better now, but Kelly appears optimistic that he can rebuild the position into something even better.
The second year coach also shot down the idea that the decision was based on money. He did describe Jackson’s contract as “expensive,” when touching on why he believed the team received no offers, but he said money was not a factor when Jackson was shown the door.
The Eagles are now somewhat thin at the wide receiver position, but Kelly expressed that he and the organization will be taking a best player available approach to the upcoming draft as opposed to picking for need.
All of Kelly’s reasons for the release and for why he has not spoken to this point are fine. They make sense and as the head coach they are indeed his prerogative, his business and his right.
The team however could have done better by Jackson if it is true that nothing that he did off the field or in the locker room caused the release. Jackson’s name was dragged through the mud by the media for the entire length of the speculation and the stories being reported and the explanation from the Eagles do not sync up.
The organization’s original statement online regarding the release merely stated that they were going in a different direction and then they went silent. The release came right after the damning report from NJ.com tying Jackson to Los Angeles gang activity. The time-frame gave off the impression that the two were related and many people ran with that notion.
If the Eagles were and are so concerned with doing what was fair to Jackson, the team should have released a statement to clear Jackson’s name and his reputation. No one’s name should be unjustly tarnished.
It will remain to be seen how the Eagles plan to fill the void left by Jackson. From Kelly’s remarks, it does not seem like a hole the team is steadfast on rushing to fill. He appears poised to try to rebuild the wide receiver position for the Eagles no matter how long that may take.
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