Kelly, Eagles better be right on DeSean decision

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Kelly, Eagles better be right on DeSean decision

They better know what they’re doing here.

The Eagles just got rid of one of the NFL’s most electrifying players in the prime of his career without getting anything in return, apparently for the crime of choosing his friends incorrectly.

DeSean Jackson has never been arrested for anything more serious than marijuana possession and driving with tinted windows, according to the NJ.com report, and those charges came five years ago and were eventually dropped. He’s never tested positive for a banned substance. What’s the worst thing he’s done in six years with the Eagles? He was suspended for one game in 2011 for missing a team meeting.

What he has done is make big plays more often than anybody in the 81-year history of the franchise. Game after game, year after year.

Jackson grew up in a section of Los Angeles where he was surrounded every day by gangs and crime. He rose up above all that to become a three-time Pro Bowl receiver with a charity foundation that raises money to fight pancreatic cancer, which claimed his dad.

And so far, the worst thing I’ve learned about Jackson is that he has close friends who are active gang members. Which really means that he’s still friends with the people he grew up with in L.A.

Jackson is a young African-American man from Compton who grew up around other young African-American men from Compton, and last time I checked, that’s not a crime.

Anybody care to take a guess what percentage of professional athletes have friends or associates who have gang ties? It’s not an insignificant number. Guilt by association isn’t a reason to cut somebody.

Now, obviously there could be a lot more out there that we haven’t heard. Stuff the Eagles know that they haven’t shared. Things Chip Kelly saw that the rest of us didn’t see. Charges or allegations that haven’t been revealed yet by authorities.

But if Jackson was such a distraction, he distracted his team last year all the way to a 10-6 season, an NFC East title and a playoff berth, and he distracted himself all the way to 82 catches, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.

Distracted himself to a career year.

Jackson is such a bad influence on his teammates that in four of the five seasons he’s played at least 12 games, the Eagles have reached the playoffs.

So Kelly will move on without his top playmaker, and that leaves the Eagles awfully thin at wide receiver.

There’s Riley Cooper, who had a couple big games in the middle of last season, but averaged 18.6 yards the first five games of the year, 49.7 receiving yards the last seven games of the year and had 11 games with 53 or fewer yards.

There’s Jeremy Maclin, who’s been a steady contributor when healthy but doesn’t have nearly the game-breaking ability that Jackson has.

Jackson has 18 career touchdowns of 50 yards or more. Maclin has four.

And there’s … Ifeanyi Momah, B.J. Cunningham, Brad Smith, Will Murphy, Arrelious Benn, Damaris Johnson and Jeff Maehl.

In other words, there’s Maclin and Cooper.

And if you want to include hybrid running back Darren Sproles in the equation, feel free. But keep in mind that Sproles averaged 8.5 yards per catch last year, and Jackson averaged nearly twice that.

The Eagles have reminded us all offseason that this is a historic wide receiver draft, so apparently that’s where they plan to replace Jackson.

So maybe you get a stud and maybe you don’t. Maybe you get Freddie Mitchell or maybe you get Reggie Wayne. Maybe you get A.J. Jenkins or maybe you get Kendall Wright. Maybe you get Dwayne Bowe or maybe you get Craig Davis.

You don’t know. You never do. The draft is funny that way. You might think you know, but you really don’t. Not with wide receivers.

DeSean Jackson, we all know what the Eagles had. It wasn’t a projection. It wasn’t guesswork. It was documented and it was electrifying and it was a blast to watch every Sunday for six years.

Derrick Ward, who spent eight seasons in the NFL as a running back with the Giants, Buccaneers and Texans, put some perspective on all this via Twitter Friday afternoon:

“I'm born and raised in South Central LA. I have uncles who are still gang bangin’, cousins who still gang bang. But what does that have to do with someone playing football and ballin’ out for your team?”

Nothing.

Still, the Eagles had every right to do what they did, and Kelly’s credentials certainly can’t be questioned after taking a lost franchise and going 10-6 with a division title in his first year in the NFL.

Maybe this really is a case of addition by subtraction, and cutting ties with Jackson help the Eagles turn into an elite NFL team and Super Bowl contender.

But they better be right. Because outright releasing a 27-year-old three-time Pro Bowler coming off his finest NFL season just might unprecedented in NFL history.

The Eagles have had two Pro Bowl wide receivers in the last 15 years, and they’ve released both of them in their prime.

Andy Reid ultimately did the right thing with T.O., although the Eagles have won just three playoff games in nine years since he left.

Kelly better be right about this one.

NFL Notes: Redskins name offensive, defensive coordinators

NFL Notes: Redskins name offensive, defensive coordinators

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. The Redskins announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after the Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.

Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.

Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.

Howie Roseman acknowledges Eric Rowe trade may have been a mistake

Howie Roseman acknowledges Eric Rowe trade may have been a mistake

It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

And Howie Roseman finally admitted it.

He also acknowledged — though in a roundabout way — that the Eagles may have made a mistake by giving up on Eric Rowe so quickly.

When Roseman was asked earlier this month at a rare media availability about the team’s decision to trade the promising second-round cornerback to the Patriots just a year after drafting him, his answer was that the Eagles were concerned about being able to re-sign him when his contract expired.

Which is after the 2018 season.

“When we sat down and discussed the offer, we really started thinking about the likelihood that we had to sign him to an extension,” Roseman said back on Jan. 4.

“We want to build this team with some continuity. We felt at that time that we were not going to sign him to an extension and to be able to get that value for him and possibly add someone who would be here for a longer period of time made sense for where we were.
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As we all know, Rowe became a key figure on the Patriots’ defense during the second half of this season and played well during the stretch run.

He played 60 of 69 defensive snaps in the Patriots' win over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game Sunday and had an interception of Ben Roethlisberger and 37-yard return late in the game. He also had four tackles and two pass knockdowns, one in the end zone.

Rowe was just 23 when the Eagles traded him, and now cornerback is one of the team’s two biggest needs going into the offseason.

Roseman appeared on the 94 WIP Morning Show on Monday and brought up Rowe before he was even asked about him.

“You’ve got to give me a chance to correct my answer on Eric Rowe from that press conference because this is what happened,” Roseman said.

“Yesterday my 9-year-old son said, ‘Dad, I didn’t really understand your answer from that press conference.’

“When the 9-year-old boy doesn’t understand the answer it’s probably a problem. I said the reason you didn’t understand was because it wasn’t coherent. It didn’t make any freaking sense.”

Along with Patrick Chung, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola, Rowe is one of four Eagles castoffs who will face the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 in Houston in two weeks.

So why did the Eagles trade Rowe?

“I think it’s good to just go back to the process,” Roseman said. “So it’s the first week of the season and we get this offer and it’s the Patriots and we’re not sitting there thinking, ‘We’re getting one over on Bill Belichick,’ maybe the best evaluator of defensive backs in the history of the NFL.

“What we were thinking about was where he was on our depth chart. At that time the starting three guys were Nolan (Carroll), Leodis (McKelvin), Ron Brooks. Jalen Mills at that point in camp had beat him out, so he was the fourth guy, and then when we spoke with our coaches, they said that Malcolm (Jenkins) would be the next guy in the slot. So for where we were and what his role was at the time, we thought it was pretty good value.

“For them to give up that kind of pick — a fourth that could be a third — we knew they had a role for him. We knew that there was going to be an opportunity, and we’ve got to do what we think is best for us.”

Roseman on Monday morning didn’t exactly admit the Eagles made a mistake by unloading Rowe at a point when the team was desperate for talented young cornerbacks.

But he came close.

“We probably make 50 decisions a year that are really real decisions that we sit down and make,” he said.

“To say that we don’t go back and think about them and think about whether they were right? That’s part of it, you know? You want to hit as many as you can, but when you’re watching games of other players that you’ve had here, that’s the hard part about doing it.”

At this point in the interview, Roseman jokingly asked WIP Morning Show host Angelo Cataldi for a beer and seemed to hint that being drunk may have helped him get through watching Rowe in the AFC Championship Game.

“That’s why Sundays ... that’s why you’ve got to watch some of these games like that,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity to reflect. At the same time, you’ve got to get guys who fit your scheme, that make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

Roseman also addressed the notion that he got rid of Rowe because he was a Chip Kelly draft pick and he wanted to rid the roster of as many Kelly players as possible.

“That’s false,” he said. “We want good players. I don’t care where they came from. ...

“I think for us, when you get a guy like (Kelly draft pick) Jordan Hicks and the role he contributes for our football team and what kind of character he has, football character, personal character.

“As many good players as we can get on the Philadelphia Eagles — at the end of the day, we’re responsible for the team and they’re part of our team and it doesn’t matter where they came from.”

Asked about Kelly's getting fired by the 49ers a year after he was fired by the Eagles, Roseman said this: “Never like seeing people lose their jobs in the National Football League. It’s a tough business, no question about it. It’s a tough time of year.”