As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Eagles OT Lane Johnson is reportedly facing a four-game suspension for the use of PEDs. Earlier this offseason, LB Jake Knott was also suspended for the same thing.
Assuming the Johnson report becomes reality, that will make two players suspended for PEDs in the past three months. So, Chip Kelly’s Eagles will have already doubled the amount of PED suspensions during his 18 months of tenure compared to 14 years under Andy Reid.
Some people may be, or are, looking at the recent news and wondering if Kelly’s Eagles are becoming like Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.
Seattle, you may know, leads the NFL in PED suspensions since 2010…the year Carroll became coach. Obviously, the correlation is that Carroll was a hot PAC-12 college coach just before joining Seattle, just like Kelly before joining Philadelphia.
However, unlike Carroll, Kelly’s college players were never under any scrutiny for the use of PEDs. Although it was apparently limited to a few USC Linebackers, Carroll’s USC team was linked to possible steroid use.
I’m not saying Carroll is promoting the use of PEDs, or is accepting of it, I’m just noting that his last two teams have players linked in some fashion with them. To my knowledge after researching, I cannot find any former Oregon Duck suspected of, or suspended for, PED usage under Kelly’s watch.
So, what gives here? Is it just a coincidence that two Eagles players have been associated with PEDs since Kelly’s arrival when there was just one the previous 14 years?
For now, I’m going with “it’s a coincidence.”
But, I will point this out as something to watch…
Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly do have some similarities in the way that they run things. They both run up-tempo practices, both are high energy/hyped-up guys, they both play music during practices and both use trends in science to improve player health and performance.
They may have some philosophical football differences as Carroll’s background is on the defensive side whereas Kelly’s specialty is offense, but the two coaches seem to be cut from the same mold in the way they think, prepare and compete.
The biggest thing you hear when it comes to Chip Kelly and the Eagles is the culture he is establishing, much like Carroll has done in Seattle.
It’s feasible to think that, in Kelly’s and Carroll’s ultra-competitive, fast-paced environments, are players that want to not only make the team, but also want to contribute. For some, perhaps, the answer is taking PEDs to give them an extra edge in order to bolster their chances of sticking or becoming elite.
Obviously, there is competition on every NFL roster and all players want any edge they can get. But, there are certainly differences in cultures that teams build. Chip Kelly and Andy Reid have vast differences in how they prefer to run things, for example.
The NFL has coaches who are fiery, animated, calm, stoic, methodical, and cerebral. Some are partial to veteran players, some prefer youth. Some coaches have a relaxed environment while others are stringent and run a tight ship.
Kelly was recently asked if he wants his team to run itself and answered by quoting three types of organizational models: blind obedience, informed acquiescence and self-governance. From a Forbes article, here is a description of each model…
Blind obedience relies on “coercion, formal authority, policing, and top-down command-and-control leadership.”
Informed acquiescence has “clear-cut rules and policies, well-established procedures, and performance-based rewards and punishments.”
Self-governance “consists of the most farsighted organizations, best positioned to thrive in an interdependent world. People at all levels of these companies are trusted to act on their own initiative and to collaboratively innovate; a shared purpose and common values guide employee and company behavior.”
Kelly prefers self-governance, which is exactly why he wants to bring in players with good character and are highly self-motivated. That type of leadership could lead to an “inmates run the asylum” type of environment if it’s not held in check by people who are driven to succeed.
But, as the Forbes article points out, it is the most effective and successful organizational structure.
Personally, I love the culture that Kelly is building. He, just like Carroll has done, seems to be building a true “team.” However, could a byproduct of such a particularly highly motivated environment put just a little more pressure on players to perform their best?
If the players are “collaboratively innovating”, could that lead a certain acceptance of using PEDs if they all justified it by thinking it was for the betterment of the team?
Ultimately, I’m not saying Kelly would condone the use of PEDs. But, with two players linked to them in his short stint, I do wonder if the environment he is building could breed players who want to do anything and everything they can to be the best they can be.
And for some, that could mean using PEDs.
Hopefully, Knott and Johnson will be the exception and not the rule. Johnson’s potential four-game suspension is significant and the team cannot afford for prominent players not to be playing, especially for reasons completely within their control.