Chip Kelly’s First Big Decision Backfired on Eagles
So the Eagles will not be going to the playoffs this season.
Sadly, I think this gives us a better indication of who they really are, not only that, but it opens up a ton of questions that must be answered now as the team is ready to head into the offseason.
The root of some of the issues in 2014 go back to offseason decisions made entering this season. First off, the decision to let DeSean Jackson walk for nothing in return in my opinion was a major mistake then, and to me - proved to be a problem this season.
Sure this team had other problems, but losing Jackson hurt everyone around him.
His trickle down effect was the biggest reason why multiple players on offense struggled. Without Jackson the windows for Nick Foles were smaller, the shots down-the-field were less effective and mistakes were more prevalent.
Enter Mark Sanchez, same issues, same problems - both guys put up plenty of yards and numbers, but simply made to made mistakes. If you have a quarterback with average talent - you need to have great players around him to make an average player, look like a good player. Without Jackson, the Eagles have good players - not great ones.
Without Jackson, LeSean McCoy had less room to run, smaller running lanes, when he bounced into a hole and nothing was there in 2013, he could bounce it out and hit the corner with no safety there to greet him. In 2014, no Jackson and now the safety is creeping up putting more attention on McCoy and the numbers are obviously down.
Sure Maclin had great numbers, and I like Maclin a lot, I think he could have been a second tier No. 1 wide out with Jackson playing the role of more of a playmaker. Think of Maclin playing the role of Jordy Nelson and Jackson more of a Randall Cobb - Jackson isn't a top wideout in the NFL, but he is a top tier big play guy, something the Eagles lacked.
Many people have commented that Jackson didn't help elevate Washington out of the NFC East basement, and they are right. However, Jackson shouldn't be counted on to be that type of guy, he is the kind of guy who makes others around him better - the Redskins simply didn't have the type of secondary talent that the Eagles have. Washington shuffled in and out three different quarterbacks - Jackson himself had a very good season in Washington, but they don't have a Maclin type who could excel because of Jackson's presence - they needed Jackson to be a true No. 1 guy, something he is not.
At the end of the season, Maclin has outstanding numbers, but keep in mind, he didn't see nearly the attention that Jackson got in 2013 - imagine what Maclin could have done if Jackson was still here.
Playing on a one-year, $5.5 million deal, Maclin had a tremendous season in a "prove it" year, catching 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.
A wide receiving group of Maclin, Jackson and rookie Jordan Matthews would have been one of the top trios in the league. Add in Zach Ertz, and both Foles and Sanchez most likely would have had better numbers and less turnovers, ditto for McCoy.
McCoy came on late in the year, but still wasn't the same player he was in 2013 admitted Sunday that he may need to restructure his contract to remain in Philly. His 1,319 yards and five touchdowns were a sharp decline from the 1,607 yards and nine rushing touchdowns he had a year ago.
Could the Eagles have beaten the Cardinals, 49ers, Packers, Cowboys, Seahawks or Redskins with Jackson? That debate can go either way. In games against the Cardinals and 49ers this season, the Nick Foles led offense struggled - scoring just 41 points in the two games. In games this season against teams that Eagles lost too (excluding Washington), Jackson hauled in 18 balls for 533 yards and three touchdowns - that's 29 yards per play.
Also in the two games against Philly, Jackson had 243 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 27 yards per catch.
While losing Jackson wasn't the only reason the Eagles aren't in the playoffs, it was the first big decision that Chip Kelly made and might be the one that he is ultimately judged on unless the Eagles can kind a way to replace him or find a way to get back to the playoffs next season.
However, its the first major roster decision he has made, and so far, it didn't work. I think it's safe to say the Eagles lacked the same explosion on offense in 2014 that they had in 2014 - there are many factors, but losing Jackson might be the biggest one.