The word accountability has been thrown around a lot lately in Philadelphia. Malcolm Jenkins spoke about it earlier this month. "The one area on our team that we really don't do a good job with is holding guys accountable for what they do on the field." Malcolm went on to speak about it more in depth. "It's just my own opinion," Jenkins said. "From a coaching style, I was brought up a little bit different, where most mistakes that teammates make or players make are brought up in more of a team setting. The approach here is more in the individual [position meeting] rooms, and it's by design and that's on purpose. Jenkins is right, how can anyone be held accountable as a team when their coach decides its not important enough to meet as a team to correct mistakes.
Isn't it easier for a team to understand and own their mistakes collectively when they look each other in the eye and talk as opposed to passing the buck in individual group meetings where not everyone knows whats being said? Wouldn't you agree that's frustrating, not being allowed to get on the same page as a whole group? Defensive lineman blaming linebackers, line backers blaming secondary, secondary blaming line backers and so on. I'm not saying that is exactly what happened, but judging from Malcolm Jenkins frustration it very well could be. But this is a guy(Kelly) who wouldn't even hold himself accountable let alone be accountable in any shape or form in front of his team.. Accountability is something Kelly never owned.
Chip Kelly, prior to this season explicitly expressed to Mr. Lurie he needed control of personnel operations for him to take this team to the next level. Mr. Lurie reluctantly agreed, and said that he wanted to hold Chip accountable by doing so. Lurie removed Roseman from the talent evaluation process so there could be no one else to blame or accept reward besides Kelly. This was obviously something Lurie was weary of but considering Kelly's prior success, he caved in and gambled, because sometimes in life gambles pay off and Kelly was such a polarizing figure with past success, it might just work.
So what happens? A series of questionable free agent signings involving big money contracts occur, he lets yet another staple of the Eagles offense Jeremy Maclin walk out the door, and signs quite a few injury prone players including trading for an unproven commodity, injury prone quarterback Sam Bradford. If Kelly pushed 100 dollars to the middle of the table initially, he made his wager 1000 dollars by the time the draft was over. A lot of question marks more than answers were made but surprisingly enough, the Eagles were among early Super Bowl favorites, expectations were sky high. We tend to forget that as the season went on and began to justify our early struggles as growing pains.
So when the season started to unravel in December and it was obvious Kelly's gambles weren't paying off did Kelly own his mistakes? No absolutely not, unless of course you bought the lip service he gave after the games to the Philly press. Did Kelly ever admit once there was a lack of talent or that the players he brought in weren't working? Even when Murray was benched he never really hinted it was because he was struggling in his system, just that match ups favored other players. Or that his high tempo offense wasn't working, that defenses found ways to counter what once made them so good? No, not one ounce of accountability, just a failure of execution.
But why would he, the only people he made accountable were the ones that made him feel threatened and in turn he made scapegoats out of them flogging them in the media as a way to stifle any future critique making everyone including his staff on edge. He held people accountable by teaching them a lesson in public. Dragging Desean Jackson through the mud for an entire off season for not buying in, allowing nasty aspersions to be cast upon him without ever once speaking up to deny or defend him when he could of at any point. He allowed it to happen claiming team policy on players under contract as the reason not to speak to about it justifying his silence. How about trading Lesean McCoy without a single notice to him prior then claiming it was the Bills fault for not allowing Kelly enough time to contact McCoy about the trade. Again, not accepting responsibility, at least he later admitted it was mishandled but not before damaging the emotional stability of one of his star players and only because of the negative backlash Kelly was receiving in national media did he halfheartedly attempt to make amends.
Is it any surprise then at the end of the year, Kelly denies having sole control over the personnel department? Throwing it all on Marynowitz? Why wouldn't Kelly just say yes, ultimately I'm responsible for everything that goes on in this club whether its on the field or in the front office? It's because Kelly's incapable of owning up, he had no problem telling the press that Marcus Smith was Roseman's doing. But this is nothing new. This is the same guy that when under the threat of penalty for sanctions against Oregon, flees college for the NFL leaving Oregon to deal with any repercussions while enjoying a nice new multi-million dollar contract with the Eagles.
The biggest fear we had was Kelly would just come here for three years until the violations would be over and return to college football. I'm half convinced he knew the moves he made were a gamble but did it anyways because if it didn't work out he could walk right back to college and get pretty much any job he wanted. Win win for Kelly, if he failed, how could you make him accountable really? Fire him and he still collects his 6 million a year for two years. Worth a shot if it paid off and only makes Kelly more into the romantic figure and legend that I believe he started to think of himself as. Chip Kelly was writing his own movie script starring himself.
But there's one other person that failed to be accountable and still fails to be accountable in this ordeal. Jeffrey Lurie admitted he is more hands on in this organization than people may think. He knew of the friction between Roseman and Kelly and the rest of the front office, so is it far fetched to believe that Lurie did have a pulse of what was going on in the locker room? I watched the press conference Lurie gave yesterday and came away with the impression Lurie often talks to players, engages in all facets of the team, and generally has a pulse for whatever is going on. So I have to believe Lurie was aware of the growing resentment that players were accruing against Kelly in the locker room. Cary Williams, Lesean McCoy, Desean Jackson, Brandon Boykin all unloaded their frustrations against Kelly as they departed the team. Did Andy Reid have any players that criticized his methods and personality when they left the team the way they did with Kelly?
Even Bill Belichick gets admiration from players he lets go and he comes off as having a stone cold personality. Did we ignore it because they were all African American players and this was in a way all related to Riley Cooper or did we not care in general because as long as we were winning it didn't matter and we would take our coaches side no matter what. I have to blame Lurie here a bit because he didn't hold Chip accountable for a lot of the things that were starting to occur. If he did know his silence made him guilty because he allowed it to remain as long as we won ball games. The fan in him keeping the business man at bay.
But that's all history now. He fired Chip Kelly out of nowhere or so it seemed to the outside observer. There is one thing Lurie is correct about when he fired Chip. He said this is not a one year evaluation, but the next part he gets wrong. This is a 3 year culmination is what he should of said, not a 3 year evaluation. Problems and friction on this team started during the 2nd year of Kelly's stint and it gradually ballooned and snow balled until it got to the point where a major bubble was waiting to burst. The front office were at each others necks and the players in the locker room were giving up on Kelly, and Lurie the guy who allowed, not supported, but allowed Kelly to continue down this path knew it had reached a critical point and was partially guilty for allowing it to reach the level it did.
You see when your a owner like Stephen Ross of the Dolphins and you have no idea of whats going on in your locker room then it's shocking when allegations of bullying occur in your locker room. Do you think 90 year old Mrs. Ford has any clue whats going on in the locker room? Answer me this question, Did Lurie seemed shocked at all during his press conference or any time after at any news that has come to light? The difference here is Mr. Lurie was very hands with his team and I believe the reason he felt relieved when he fired Chip is because he blames himself for allowing everything that transpired to occur. Was Lurie shocked at any of the resentment players have been coming forward with? His silence shows me he was aware already. Mr Lurie describes himself as just as big of a fan as he is an owner and in this situation he let the fan clout the judgement of the business owner.
You ever see a older man with a bad heart going through an extremely rough time in his life and the moment it gets better he has a heart attack? Do you know what doctors say is the cause? A culmination of stress caused by whatever strife is going on in your life. When you carry the burden of stress and guilt for so long when its over you have a sudden rush of relief, which in turn can cause a heart attack if you have a bad heart. I've seen it first hand. I don't think many people really understand what Mr. Lurie meant when he said he felt relief more than anything when he fired Kelly. It was because of the guilt he carried for so long, knowing a situation was getting out of hand but trying to manage it all in the name of winning.
This next part of this journey is very important for Mr. Lurie specifically. And not just because he fired such a polarizing coach when he did or because were starting over. It's important because for the first time in 3 years Jeffrey Lurie needs to hold himself accountable. He spoke of how Don Smolenski, Howie Roseman, and himself would head the coaching search. But I don't believe this can be as much as a collaborative approach as it would be under normal circumstances. This is a where Lurie needs to make up for allowing a culture of fear and silence to exist where players felt more like prisoners than they did partners. How does one get team work through dictatorship? Lurie owes this next hire to the players in this locker room and you can sense he knows that because he is making it a point of firing Kelly a week earlier than its customary for teams for the sake of geting the players input on what they want in the next coach.. Does that make sense why Lurie fired Kelly a week early? The guilt got to the point where it was hard to continue as is and he needed to make a move that sent a message to his players.
This is why he gave Chip no options of retaining his job. It had gone long past that point. If you have any reason to disagree with the argument I've laid out think of the word relief for a moment and the timing of this fire. It's important. Last time around Howie pushed for the Chip hire, this time around Mr Lurie, if you want to be accountable yourself and don't want a repeat of what just occurred for the last three years this must be your choice because you were just as much to blame as Kelly. Philadelphia is holding you accountable after this, and its what our players deserve from you as well as the fans.