Bird Droppings: Are Eagles Veterans Buying in to Chip Kelly’s System?

Bird Droppings: Are Eagles Veterans Buying in to Chip Kelly’s System?

Leonard Weaver caused a bit of a stir on Twitter over the past two days by suggesting not everyone on the Eagles roster is on the same page with new head coach Chip Kelly. We won’t go so far as to say it’s a baseless claim, as the former Birds fullback of two seasons would know and presumably have ties to a few players in the locker room. However, Big Weave seemed to be fairly transparent about his sources, hinting that if one person had issues with the way Kelly was running the show – specifically Michael Vick – there must be more.

In other words, there obviously are a bunch of disgruntled veterans at the NovaCare Complex these days because Vick admitted he himself is disgruntled.

Never mind Vick’s frustration is partly with the media over their unrelenting and inane line of questioning about the quarterback competition all spring long – a frustration that is apparently shared by his head coach and main source of competition. Let’s examine the root of Weaver’s argument: dissatisfied vets threaten team unity.

Or something. It’s a ridiculous point in the first place, because as several folks have already responded, the Eagles went 4-12 last season. If anybody from that train wreck isn’t on board the new vessel in time for departure, then let ‘em get left behind.

It also flies in the face of what many players are saying aloud and on the record, and what reporters have been able to observe at practices. By and large the players claim they are buying in to Kelly’s program, while the lone person whose actions have not backed that up so far is Cary Williams. That’s not even an example of somebody showing his displeasure, that’s just a man with a busy social calendar.

Les Bowen made perhaps the most succinct observation of all regarding the notion that some players might not be happy with the changes at the conclusion of one of his recent blog entries:

I think Kelly has great confidence in what he is trying to do, and that players see that, and aren't resisting anything. Trent Cole is working very hard to become an outside linebacker at age 30. If it's because he feels he has no alternative, rather than because he thinks it's a swell idea, I'm not sure that really matters.

This is exactly the same reason why Vick’s comments, which were probably misconstrued anyway, meant so little. It doesn’t matter whether or not he really wants to share reps with Nick Foles, or if he wishes Chip would name a starting quarterback before camp. All that matters is that Vick is there competing, and win or lose, he is doing his job, which up to this point he has.

After all, that’s what this “buying in” stuff really boils down to: guys doing their jobs. Nobody should be worried about whether or not veterans are in their comfort zones. They shouldn’t be comfortable. That’s the whole point of making a coaching change – to shake things up, almost rattle the cages so to speak. If certain players aren’t buying in, it will show on the field, and somewhere down the line they will be replaced by players who want to be on board. It’s all part of the rebuilding process.

To be blunt: if somebody isn’t part of the solution, then they’re part of the problem. And guys have plenty of incentives – jobs, money, careers on the line even – not to rock the boat.

>> Leonard Weaver stirring things up over Twitter [CSN]
>> Riding with the Chipper [Eagletarian]

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).