Tag Archives: Evan Mathis

Chip Kelly Needs to Address How He Relates to His Players

11 Aug

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—By now you all have heard about Brandon Boykin’s remarks regarding Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly after he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick.

What raised eyebrows was a text sent by Boykin to Comcast Sports Net that said Kelly is “uncomfortable around men of our culture.”

It was originally interpreted as Kelly having a problem with African-American players and was viewed in the same was as similar accusations from former Eagles players LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and former assistant coach Tra Thomas.

A day later, Boykin clarified his remarks saying he wasn’t calling Kelly a racist, but that he has a hard time relating to players.

“He likes total control of everything, and he don’t like to be uncomfortable,” Boykin told Comcast Sports Net. “Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn’t been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”

A recent story by the Bleacher Reports’ Mike Freeman confirms what Boykin was saying about Kelly’s need to have total control over everything.

While Boykin shed further light on what he meant, the perception that Kelly has a problem with African-American players lingers on with more than a few African-Americans fans. On some level it’s understandable, especially from those fans who are still upset over the incident in which wide receiver Riley Cooper dropped a fair amount of N-Bombs at a Country Music concert.

As Black men, society often views us with suspicion, especially if we are seen as outspoken or show any form of anger. Even the most liberal of white people and among African Americans themselves, that perception exists.

That said, I don’t think that either Kelly or the Eagles as an organization are racists.

However, I do think that Kelly is trying to make the Eagles into his image from a football standpoint, and that has led to the clashes he’s had with veteran players. For example, two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who is white, was let go after he started demanding more money.

As for the decision to trade Boykin, it was logical given Kelly’s mantra that says big people beat little people. As good as Boykin as a cornerback in nickel (five defensive backs) situation, he simply did not fit into what Kelly wanted for his defense. Boykin is listed at about 5-foot-9, maybe 5-8.

In the wake of these allegations from his former players, Kelly needs to have a sit-down with not only his Black players, but his entire team just to let them that he’s accessible. One of the complaints that Boykin made was that Kelly couldn’t relate to players outside of football.

Kelly said that he has an open-door policy with his players, but the workday is very structured during the offseason and during the season.

“You can come to talk to me whenever you want to come and talk to me,” Kelly said earlier this week. “But we also have a pretty structured day where guys are in meetings. I don’t just sit and walk around and say, let me go grab him and let’s sit down and have a coffee together. When they get here, they are doing stuff.”

At some point, Kelly is going to have to take a look at how he relates to players, who are grown men and not college kids whose scholarships you can yank if they don’t fit in with your program.

If the Eagles are winning on a consistent basis because of Kelly’s moves, all of this will be forgotten. But if wins don’t result from all of these moves, you’ll hear more noise about Kelly’s relationship with his players.
If that happens, Kelly will be the one having to find a new relationship.

South Philly Forty: Eagles Purge Continues with the Release of Evan Mathis

12 Jun
Two-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Evan Mathis is free to negotiate with other teams after he was released by the Eagles.

Two-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Evan Mathis is free to negotiate with other teams after he was released by the Eagles.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Just when you thought the drama at NovaCare had kind of subsided just a wee bit, the Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made another eye-raising move on Thursday by giving the heave-ho to two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis.

While the team hasn’t made an official announcement just yet, Mathis himself made the announcement on Twitter: “Thanks for the memories Philly.”

I guess the first thing that should jump out at you in the midst of Kelly’s purge of the team’s best veteran players is that being outspoken or even looking like you’re a critic of this regime will get you fired. Since assuming command of the team’s football operations, Kelly has made it clear that while a player maybe good, no one is above being kicked to the curb.

You can’t say that move was about race or any of his moves including the trade of running back LeSean McCoy. Kelly has made it emphatically clear that this is his team, ride or die.

The Eagles have become the real-life version of the 1970s football movie, “North Dallas 40.” Kelly, who makes all the personnel decisions, has become B.A. Strothers, the demanding coach played by G.D Spradling, who likened a football team to a well-oiled machine. In one scene the coach in the film if one of those gears from that machine flies off on its own, he would pull it.

Kelly has definitely done that when anyone dared to be a critic of his football ideology. McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams have all been shown the door in one way or the other.   The latest casualty of Kelly’s totalitarian rule is their malcontent Pro Bowl offensive lineman.

Mathis did not show up for the team’s “voluntary” organized team activities mainly because he dared to not be happy with his contract. He wanted more money and he wanted it guaranteed. The Eagles response to Mathis was stay home and don’t ya come back no more.

What makes this move even more painful for Mathis was that he was scheduled to make $5.5 million and $6 million next season. Despite his accomplishments on the field for the last couple years, some observers around the league are saying that it is highly doubtful that’s he going to make that kind of money at 33-years-old—he turns 34 in November.

Throughout the offseason, the Eagles had been looking to trade Mathis, but could find no takers. Given Kelly’s penchant for putting the kybosh on guys who don’t buy into the system, general managers around the league figured why give up a draft choice or a player to be named later when you can sign him as a free agent, possibly at a cheaper price.

The irony of this was that Mathis bought into Kelly’s holistic approach to the football which involves proper diet and nutrition along with getting plenty of sleep. I guess in Kelly’s mind Mathis wanting more money is a violation of a team that he wants to carve into his own image.

And so even with the departure of former head coach Andy Reid and former team president Joe Banner, the Birds are still the Logan’s Run of pro football where turning 30-something can be hazardous to your job security no matter how good you were the past couple of seasons.

Somewhere in the state of Ohio, Banner is smiling at Kelly’s handiwork.

Meanwhile, Allen Barbre, Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner will be vying to replace Matthew. My caveat to Kelly is that if you’re going to cut guys they have to be better than the guy being let go.

Running back DeMarco Murray had better have the kind of season to make fans say, LeSean who? Quarterback Sam Bradford needs to stay healthy and be productive enough to make people forget Nick Foles. The Eagles defense with its young defensive backs needs to stop people.

In other words, the end-result of all the offseason moves had better translate into a division title and a run deep into the playoffs. If it doesn’t, Kelly will find out in no uncertain terms that he, too, is expendable as the players he’s cut or traded.

Injury-Riddled Offensive Line Catches up to Birds in Loss to Niners

30 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Looking from afar at the score of the Eagles 26-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, you might think it was a close exciting game by two dynamic offenses.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in 2014 after leading the NFL in rushing in 2013. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in 2014 after leading the NFL in rushing in 2013. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Instead, the Eagles portion of the final score hid the lack of production of an offense that produced zero points, crossed midfield just once, committed four turnovers and could not run or throw the football.

If wasn’t for a blocked punt for a touchdown, an 82-yard punt return by Darren Sproles and an interception for a touchdown by safety Malcolm Jenkins, it would have been a 26-0 49ers shutout.

The Eagles came into the game missing three offensive linemen due to injury and suspension and they were exposed by a 49ers defense that put pressure on quarterback Nick Foles, who had problems finding his receivers. He was sacked just once, but most of the day avoiding rushers.

When you have a patchwork offensive line, what happened on Sunday is inevitable and the Eagles lost this game in the trenches and they could not get anything going throughout the game.

After passing for over 300 yards in his first three games, Foles was 21-of-43 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the struggles of the Eagles running game continued as LeSean McCoy gained just 17 yards on 10 carries.

For the game, the Eagles had just 213 yards of offense after averaging over 400 in their first three games. Coming into the next to the last drive of the game, the Eagles had not crossed midfield and had just 127 yards of offense.

Incredibly, for all those struggles on offense, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game.

When the Birds finally crossed fifty, they moved the ball to the 49ers one-yard line with two-minutes left after a five-yard run by McCoy from the six. The Eagles were one yard from pulling out a win. They had two downs to get one yard.

Questionable Play Calling on the Goal Line

You would think Chip Kelly would have called at least one running play in that sequence, especially with three time outs. With the way the running game was going, Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur had no confidence in letting McCoy getting the ball here.

If you saw the television replay on the third and goal play, the 49ers linebackers were about two or three yards behind the defensive line and looked like they were playing to defend the pass.

A more experienced quarterback sees that and calls a running play or maybe Kelly and his offensive coordinator see this and signals the quarterback to call a running back.

If the Birds coaches didn’t see it, FOX color analyst Troy Aikman saw it and pointed out how far the linebackers were away from the line during the replay of Foles incomplete pass to tight end Brent Celek and said the Eagles should have considered running the ball there.

Even if the Birds didn’t get in the end zone running the ball in that situation, the threat to run on fourth down might have had the 49ers creeping their linebackers and safeties close to the line. Instead, the Niners, knowing the Eagles were going to pass, kept their linebackers and defensive backs covering the end zone.

Those two errant passes yielded nothing and they turned the ball over on downs. After the 49ers were forced to punt, the Eagles had another chance to win the game.

Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t get beyond their own 31 and on fourth and 24, Foles threw his second interception to end the game.

Last year, the Eagles had a healthy offensive lineman and they were among the league’s best rushing teams. This season that’s not the case with guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce on the injured list and Lane Johnson out due to suspension.

The good news for the Birds is that they get Johnson back at the right tackle position this week. But will it help the Birds to get better in the trenches to open holes for McCoy and to enable Foles to find open receivers downfield?

With the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys starting to play well, the Eagles need to figure out a way for that line to get better.