Possible Correlation Between Chip Kelly and Eagles' PED Suspensions? | Eagles Addict
Chip Kelly and Lane Johnson

Photo:Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

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-governanceconsists 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.

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10 Responses to Possible Correlation Between Chip Kelly and Eagles’ PED Suspensions?

  1. tval says:

    Good article dave..I agree about the culture kelly is creating..I also agree this is worth watching..if barbre outplays johnson, id let his butt ride the pine all year and trade him to make an example..I absolutely hate the perception the seahawks and carroll have created regarding steroids, etc..im no tolerance when it comes to this, even though I realize its probably a much bigger problem than we want to admit

    • Thanks tval. I don’t think I could let LJ ride the bench, he’s too valuable. Hopefully he learns from this and hides it better next time…err, I mean, doesn’t do it again! 😉

      It definitely bears watching if others get busted for this too. Especially now with former Chip player Dion Jordan’s suspension.

  2. Buddyball46 says:

    I think Kelly’ focus on measurables in evaluating players in comparison to Reid’s openness of keeping small over achieving players with high motors will make it more likely Kelly will have more PED suspensions than most coaches. I do not think any coaches condone PED’s. I am big Lane Johnson fan and am disappointed. I am not shocked. He did gain a 100 pounds of good weight in about 4 years.

    • Agreed Buddy. That’s why I think this bears watching to see if PED usage starts running rampant with the Eagles. Hopefully their “self-governance” takes aim at PED use.

  3. tval says:

    Great points buddy..he was a h.s. qb right? I know he was way smaller but I agree..also, I wonder if some veterans nearing their careers ending are watching these young guys..they dont see the short term adverse affects with some ped’s, as weve seen with steroids..this could encourage young guys to keep, or start, doing these drugs for added advantage. Young people, say 28 and under, are far more comfortable with needles..happy 4th guys!!

    • True tval, younger guys certainly more susceptible to using. But, more than age, I think fringe players like Knott are more likely to use as well. It’s not too often you see prominent players using PEDs…it’s usually fringe guys or guys that are trying to improve their depth chart spot.

  4. tval says:

    Very true dave..I could imagine balancing your morality/any health concerns, with the prospects of being able to ensure your familys financial stability for any player would be difficult..especially for the fringe guy, like u said

  5. tval says:

    Wow, yeah I forgot about jordan being a chip guy

  6. Willy Istvan says:

    Dave, Interesting article. The one problem I see with your article is that you linked to an article about Seahawks PED usage that is well over a year oold. The Seahawks haven’t had a positive test for PED’s since that article was written in May 2013. Pete Carroll has cleaned house. Every player on the Seahawks who has beeb suspended for PED’s or Substances of Abuse Policy is gone from the team, except for one: Bruce Irvin. Pete Carrol sacrificed some good players, but all the others are gone now. There are other teams who have surpassed the Seahawks. Here is a link for an article I wrote on the Seahawks website:


    • Hey Willy, I was taking more of the angle about the similarities between Kelly and Carroll’s coaching styles. Carroll has obviously had issues with PEDs with some players at USC and Seattle, but yeah, he has cleaned house some. Sherman is still a little questionable as to whether or not he actually did use PEDs.

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