Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that coaches like the Eagles‘ Chip Kelly, who exercise control over both the football and business side of a team’s operations, frequently succumb to the pressures and difficulties of absolute power. Bill Belichick has managed to make it work in New England, but he is the exception to the rule.
Philadelphia’s recent saga with Evan Mathis demonstrates just how difficult Kelly’s position can be. As McLane writes, “Kelly received nothing in return for a Pro Bowl guard who had little leverage and claimed that he was prepared to report and perform without being a disruption – as he did last year.” And if the decision to release Mathis turns out to be a poor one, Kelly will have no higher authority to share the blame.
Although players will typically side with their teammates when asked about contract difficulties, the responses to Mathis’ release suggest that Kelly is still commanding respect in the locker room even as he takes full control of the team’s personnel affairs. McLane says that Mathis’ former teammates offered “vociferous support of management” after Mathis was cut, and tight end Zach Ertz had this to say: “I understand where [Mathis is] coming from. In his mind he thinks he’s underpaid, so he’s got to do what he thinks is best. But we want people here that are going to trust the process.”
Of course, there will be many more difficult personnel decisions to be made, decisions that will truly test whether Kelly can first construct a talented roster and then get that roster to win football games. It is a decidedly tall task, and one that most have been unable to meet.
Now let’s take a look at some links from around the league:
- One of Kelly’s acquisitions this offseason was Miles Austin, who signed a one-year, $2.3MM deal with the club. Austin might not be getting a lot of attention from those outside the Eagles locker room, but Kelly himself is pleased with what he has seen from the one-time star, writes Connor Orr of NFL.com. “He’s got really, really good range,” Kelly said. “Catches the ball extremely well. Intelligent. Kind of knows the subtleties of the exact route running, kind of exactly where to maybe place his elbow to get separation in terms of pushing off the hip and things like that. And he’s imparted that on the younger guys, which I think has really helped us to have that true veteran route runner in there, and I think he’s been really good at doing that.”
- The Colts have four locks to make the team at wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and first-round pick Phillip Dorsett, writes Kevin Bowen of Colts.com. After that, they have three players competing for either one or two spots in Vincent Brown, Duron Carter, and Griff Whalen.
- David Newton of ESPN.com says Jerricho Cotchery is likely to make the Panthers‘ final roster due to his leadership abilities, but Newton does not see him making a significant on-field contribution considering the talent ahead of him on the depth chart.
- In the same piece, Newton says he does not see the Panthers making any significant additions along the offensive line unless there is a major injury in training camp, even if a player like the newly-acquired Michael Oher struggles.
- The Steelers have not spoken with tackle Kelvin Beachum, who is entering the final year of his contract, about a new deal, tweets Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com. Beachum though, says he is not sweating his contract situation and is fully focused on the 2015 season.
- Tashaun Gipson is the talk of the town in Tony Grossi’s latest mailbag for ESPN.com, and Grossi writes that the recent contract drama surrounding Gipson has created a bad vibe between player and team. He also addresses whether the Browns could keep Johnny Manziel inactive all year during his recovery.
- Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com is somewhat surprised by how limited Lions tight end Joseph Fauria was in the spring, and the fact that the team signed David Ausberry and attempted to claim Tim Wright off waivers suggests that Detroit is at least considering contingency plans. That said, Fauria is expected to be ready for training camp, and the Lions continue to be impressed by his upside.
Rob DiRe contributed to this post.