After the Eagles abruptly fired coach Chip Kelly 10 days ago, guys like Bills running back LeSean McCoy and Washington receiver DeSean Jackson had nothing to say on Twitter. McCoy publicly said nothing at all, and Jackson later offered up a “could care less.”
Jackson has since decided he cares enough to make an observation on the situation.
“I’m a firm believer that bad karma comes back on you,” Jackson told Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com. “When you ruin a team like that, you do things to peoples’ families, you release people, you trade people, you get rid of good players who build something with the community, with the fans, with the kids — to have a guy come in and change up the team like that, I just believe in karma. I don’t have any bad words to say about him as far as what he feels he needs on his roster. But the guys that were on that roster created something special, from Jeremy Maclin to LeSean McCoy to Trent Cole to Todd Herremans and myself and Brandon Boykin; it goes on and on and on. When we were there we were a brotherhood. So for everyone to go their separate ways and to see how it all ended up, it’s a very sad thing.”
But plenty of players get released or traded by every coach, every year. The lingering resentment for Kelly seems to be that he didn’t apply a different standard when it comes to his star players. Which is fine as long as those star players don’t continue to be star players with a new team.
That’s what hurts Kelly’s future prospects more than anything else. Unlike Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose former players rarely if ever do much of anything with a new team, Kelly saw Jackson, McCoy, and Maclin play well elsewhere — without adequately replacing their production in Philadelphia.
Especially at the skill positions, it’s critical to have a Plan B that plays roughly as well as the former Plan A performs in his next city. Absent that, it’s important to kind a way to keep the guy around.
As to Jackson, he seems to realize that some of the responsibility for his struggles lands on his shoulders.
“It made me a lot more mature,” Jackson said of getting cut by Kelly. “I got released coming off what I felt was the best year of my career. I had over 1,100 yards and I still got released? I’m asking myself, What was it that I did wrong? But it wasn’t about my skills. It was about off the field. But I was never a bad guy. I just needed to tighten up on my end, be more of a professional and know that there was more to it than how you performed.”
The better approach would have been for Kelly and Jackson to figure out how to get the player to mature without cutting him. That way, the Eagles would still be benefiting from his presence, Washington wouldn’t, and Kelly may still have a job instead of scrambling to find one.
If Kelly lands another job right away, will he mature as a coach? Will he learn that, instead of simply insisting that players buy in to his ways, Kelly has a responsibility to try to sell them on his systems, and to work through any issues that arise?
Or will he believe that immediately landing on his feet constitutes validation of his ways, encouraging him to do exactly what he did with the Eagles?
It could be an interesting sociological experiment. Especially for the fan base of the next team that hires Kelly.