Lane’s World: Johnson Airs Eagles’ Dirty Laundry
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If there was an award for the straightest shooter on the Eagles, Lane Johnson would have it locked up.
While most of the players who spoke about Chip Kelly's firing Wednesday tried to deflect the issues between their head coach and his arch rival, executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman, Johnson set atop a perch in the front of the locker room and held court in his Texas drawl to try to explain what went wrong for a team that entered 2015 with expectations at a fevered pitch.
"Just a lot of tension up there that didn't need to happen," Johnson said when addressing the disconnect between Kelly and Roseman, "because when you throw it up there, it does trickle down to the team, and the team knows what's going on ...We always knew there was a little bit of tension - knew it wasn't just sunshine and rainbows."
Professionals shouldn't need that sunshine or those rainbows but when the eulogy of this Eagles season is finally written, it will point toward a personal feud overwhelming the entire organization.
Consider that Kelly is already on the record, saying he wants to stay in the NFL and doesn't want personnel power at his next stop despite insisting on it here. That's because the dislike was so intense between Kelly and Roseman, the head coach couldn't stomach doing his job with Roseman adding his two cents.
While that was cancer that killed Kelly at NovaCare, there were other issues, however, namely the coach's aloofness toward others, as well as his incessant belief in his offensive system, which took an incredible toll on his players.
"Maybe the ego got in the way," Johnson claimed. "Too much power. Too much control. Not being human about things; not working together, with the team, instead of being a dictator."
By the end Kelly's lack of "emotional intelligence" meant he had few allies left in the building, only his hand-picked personnel guy Ed Marynowitz, who was fired along with Kelly, some of the coaches, and a number of players who were dwindling by the day.
"He (Kelly) preached a culture of self-sacrifice and professionalism, but he created a culture in which players and assistant coaches did not question anything," Johnson admitted.
The right tackle also joined the Cary Williams camp on Wednesday, claiming Kelly's frenetic way of doing things had jumped the shark.
"Practice here is pretty much the same from OTAs through training camp to the end of the season," Johnson said. "No other guys in the league go from April through the end of the season. It takes a toll on you. I feel like I'm going to fall apart.
"I'm pretty tired. ...A lot of guys in this league aren't going to last (in this system) especially bigger guys like myself, it's harder on your joints. There is a lot of pounding. Your hips. Your back. All you're doing is torquing all day."
A sense of relief has already turned to excitement for Johnson, who is very interested in playing in a more conventional NFL model.
"I'm excited to get back to a more traditional style of offense," he said. "I've been running this tempo s@#$ since college."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen