Ever since the Eagles hired Chip Kelly back in January, there has been monumental change in the Eagles organization. Everything from the coaching staff, personnel staff, and training procedures have been turned upside down. This is Chip Kelly’s first year in the NFL, and it will be a learning process for him and the fans along the way.
With a limited amount of people bing able to attend training camp, the fans must formulate indirect opinions on players based on the reporting of others. This phenomenon has caused many fans to take the reporters’ opinions as fact, and when they end up being wrong, internet chaos ensues.
An example of this can be seen with the cutting of OLB Chris McCoy. All throughout training camp he was being touted as one of the better cover linebackers. While Trent Cole and Brandon Graham continued to transition into stand-up outside linebackers, the cover ability of McCoy seemed to make him an easy choice for the 53 man roster.
As the preseason unfolded, he did not make too many mistakes, but also did not do much to stand out from his fellow OLB’s. Then came the final preseason game against the Jets. McCoy was flew all over the field, making plays on the ball and the QB. This performance, along with the constant reporter praise, seemed to cement his place on the roster, he was a “lock.” Not so fast.
There are many factors that go into the final decisions on cut-down day. Many of these factors are never seen by the fans. Is the player a positive presence in the locker room? Is the player attentive and hardworking in the film room? Also, on-field success will not always be looked at as positive from the coaching staff. Sure a player was around the ball all night, but did he handle his gap responsibilities and play within the defense? All these questions are analyzed heavily by the coaches and personnel staff before coming to a final decision.
We must also remember that this 53 man roster is not set in stone, in fact, it is far from it. The Eagles have assigned scouts to each team around the league, and they have been learning everything they can about young players who were cut today.
The reason the Eagles only kept three OLB’s should be pretty obvious. They have reason to believe that outside talent can make the unit better than it would have been with McCoy. Expect several more moves to happen in the coming days, Casey Matthews and Kurt Coleman can not start celebrating yet.
Another notable cut that has people talking is former first round pick Danny Watkins. After a promising rookie season, a bad relationship with offensive line coach Howard Mudd lead to struggles in 2012. He seemed to be having somewhat of a renaissance summer and looked like he had a decent shot at a backup guard spot.
However, all pre-Chip Kelly standards must be thrown out the door now. Versatility is key. A player like Allen Barbre is much more valuable to Chip because he can play either guard or tackle, while Watkins has not played tackle since his days at Baylor.
The financial situation with Watkins was tricky, as it actually cost more money to cut him than to keep him. This cut should help validate Chip’s many promises that he is trying to win and win now. Even if it costs a little more money, he is going to put the best 53 men out there in hopes of winning as many games as possible.
In the end, as fans we must be aware of how much information is available to us. The fact that anybody is calling these cuts “shockers” or “surprises” is backwards. We must trust the people who have the most information on these players and the team to make the best decisions.
Now that the preseason is over and the roster is down to 53, it is finally time to look ahead to the regular season. No matter who is on the team come September 9th against the Redskins, I can not wait to see them play.