For all the Eagles' success over the last decade and a half; for all the wonderful highs and painful lows, one thing has remained a constant – the team's coaches really don't like talking to the media.
Both Andy Reid and Chip Kelly have handled their required media duties in different ways: Reid was a big fan of the "no answer is too short" school of thought. Kelly, meanwhile, is much more verbose and eloquent in his press conferences, though not necessarily more enthusiastic than his predecessor.
That in itself isn't surprising. After all, would you want to talk to the same group of ten reporters three or four times per week, every week, for more than half the year? But, for a second offsesaon in a row, the Eagles have made a splashy personnel move without an accompanying media availability to explain the decision.
The ensuing criticism from the media was as familiar as it was predictable. The Eagles' silence, many of these writers said, was an affront to the fans who deserve to hear from their favorite team's decision-makers, especially when they make sudden and surprising decisions that impact the direction of the franchise. That's not to say the criticism was completely unwarranted – we're talking about people who are (sometimes!) paid to cover the team.
But then another predictable thing happened. The same fans that many in the media claimed to be defending – those same fans, who, media members argued, were being denied the most basic courtesy a sports team could issue its loyal fans – let their voices be heard in a resounding three-word cry that went up to the heavens:
In a BGN poll conducted earlier in the week, nearly 1,500 of you voted on this, the most important debate of our lifetime. And more than 1,200 you said that it just doesn't matter to you.
Still, there are plenty out there who feel that the Eagles really should say something. So in the interest of an open debate, let's look at both sides of this issue. We'll start with the unpopular opinion.
The Case For Talking
Yesterday, the Philadelphia 76ers traded away Michael Carter-Williams, the franchise's starting point guard and the second player drafted by the Sam Hinkie-era Sixers, as well as KJ McDaniels, a half-man half-Vine machine who does things like this. Yesterday was a seismic day in the young life of the new Sixers organization, and they acknowledged this by holding a press conference early Friday morning.
At its most rhetorically reductive, the reason the Eagles don't talk unless they absolutely need to is the same reason the Sixers do need to: you love the Eagles. You (probably) love Chip Kelly. The team's front office not appearing transparent will not prevent you from getting a Pro Bowl Cody Parkey jersey, nor will it stop you from naming your new dog LeSean McCorgi. The rebuilding Sixers want you to buy tickets and pay attention. The Eagles? They know they've got you.
That may sound harsh, and the reality is softer than that. The Eagles, especially in the last decade, have earned the trust of fans. They come to expect a level of competency and performance from their Iggles, and by and large the team has delivered. And believe me when I tell you that the team is aware of these criticisms. They hear it, they take it seriously, and they care about the way fans view them. This I can promise you.
But that doesn't mean silence is, or should be, a strategy. Fans not needing to hear from the front office doesn't mean fans don't want to hear from them. People in Philadelphia are obsessed with the Eagles in a way that is unlike nearly everything else in life. Folks care, and a good number of them care a whole heckuva lot.
The Case Against Talking
Short of fan appeasement, meeting the media doesn't do anything for a team. In fact, in most cases, talking can only be harmful. Consider the current Marcus Mariota speculation. Suppose for a moment that Chip is ready to do #WhateverItTakes to #MakeTheDeal and trade for Mariota. If Chip speaks at the Combine, anything he says about his former pupil will be turned and churned and analyzed and overanalyzed by everyone with a functioning eardrum and an Internet connection.
The best-case scenario here is that Chip's presser confirms what we all already know - Mariota's a darn good quarterback and darn if it wouldn't be fun to see him in Eagles green. But the worst-case scenario? One awkwardly worded response or poorly timed remark could give away leverage needed for any potential negotiations with another team, reveal team plans... the list goes on. If you're Chip, a coach who so far has shown that he likes to play things close to the vest, why on Earth would you risk it?
This is also applicable to the front office situation. If things were as volatile as the reports suggested, and if nearly all the parties from that episode are still working together inside the NovaCare Complex, why risk ruffling any feathers?
Ultimately, the NFL has set up press events at which coaches and front office personnel are required to speak: the owner's meeting, the Draft, and of course, throughout the season. This is largely because without these rules, no one would ever talk to the media about anything ever. It's not because teams don't appreciate fan loyalty, and it's not because they don't value transparency. In a roundabout way, teams are silent because it helps provide fans with the best on-field product.
And at the end of the day, isn't that what's most important?