The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a season where they fell back to earth. They made the playoffs in their first year under Chip Kelly, but the second year yielded different results. The team did not make the playoffs despite a record of 10-6. And as a result of that loss, it seemed like there were some questionable changes that were made. Gone are LeSean “Shady” McCoy and in are former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray and former San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Matthews. Out is wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and in comes rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor. And most recently, the Eagles traded defensive back Brandon Boykin to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional 2016 draft pick. But along with some of these moves, there have been some issues with players saying a few things while on the way out. Shady McCoy had some things to say that were interesting and drew the attention of the media. He said that Chip Kelly was racist and was getting rid of all the good Black players. And when Boykin was shipped out, he definitely had some things to say. One thing that struck a chord with a lot of people was when Boykin was said to text Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn and say that Chip Kelly is “uncomfortable around men of our culture”. Now these comments recently riled up more fans that have an issue with what Kelly is doing with the team. Boykin never said he was racist at all, but the implication that some took from it was that was what he was saying. Now later on, Boykin clarified his statements in regards to what he was saying about Chip and his style. He said he likes to be in control of everything. But what can we expect from a college coach in the NFL?
Kelly came to Philly from the University of Oregon. And up to that point in his coaching career, he had only been a head coach on the collegiate level. Many coaches on the collegiate level are eager to prove themselves when they step up to the professional level. But along with trying to prove themselves, the collegiate idea of control follows them as well. Many coaches that have made the leap to the next level are used to dealing with kids they have control over. They can basically control everything from what position they play to what classes they take. When they reach the professional level, it is hard to keep that element of control. It allows them to be able to keep their hands on everything instead of allowing grown men to be just what they are and deal with the personalities. In some cases, the control aspect has worked well. But in other cases, like the case of Steve Spurrier when he went to coach the Washington Redskins, it fails miserably. Chip Kelly has taken sole control of the organization in a sense. He picks the players and basically puts them where they want him to be. And from the words of Boykin, he does not try to relate to the players at all. Trading away a player like Boykin when he did does not seem like something that is smart to do. He is arguably their best cornerback and a playmaker they need. Trading him away wreaks more of a control move rather than a confident move in who the Eagles have in their secondary. And this move could eventually be something that costs the team in the 2015 season as they depend on free-agent acquisition Byron Maxwell and a cast of other defensive backs.
Chip may have some control issues, but what also rang louder is that Boykin made the accusation that he does not listen to his players. At the collegiate level, Chip definitely did not have to listen to his players. He was the adult with a bunch of kids playing for him. So in that aspect, what he said went and the kids either listened, sat on the bench or transferred. At the professional level, he is dealing with adults and not kids. You can definitely speak to them and bark out orders, but you also have to listen to your players. The biggest thing that Boykin said is that Kelly would almost isolate himself from his players on purpose. That kind of action will not endure players to want to play for you. And unlike the NFL, there are more players that talk to others than do at the collegiate level. Word can get around about the type of action Kelly takes and that could cause people to turn away from coming to Philly. At this point, many are looking at Boykin like he is just spiteful for being traded when he was. But in all actuality, there are elements of the complaints that sound similar to the ones that McCoy and former Eagles assistant Tra Thomas made as well. And even though Boykin did not go as far as to call Chip a racist, it reached to that tone to some.
Is Chip Kelly a racist? That is pushing it way too far. But is he a control freak? That can be founded in his actions and his mannerisms. And even though he has had early success, it could all come crashing down as fast as he built it up. Chip Kelly has the control of his team, but there also comes a point where that control turns into alienation. Chip is teetering on that line. Boykin is not the only one to say some comments about Kelly and the way he runs the team and he probably isn’t the only one that has this on their mind to say about Kelly in Philly. If some bumps come along the way this season, expect more to come out in regards to Kelly. Over time we will see if this talk about Kelly is true or if it is fabricated. But true or not, there has to be some concern amongst Eagles ownership about what is coming out of this locker room in the media, albeit players saying this when they are on their way out.