Former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson went on the Simms & Lefkoe Podcast this week, and spoke about their time under Chip Kelly. Now, it’s no surprise that the two weren’t exactly fond of the former Philadelphia head coach — I mean, was anybody —, but their four-minute segment really shined a light on just how bad the situation was.
Jackson opened by saying that Kelly “messed up the real dream team” and even saying that they really could have been Super Bowl champs with the group they had. Vick echoed that sentiment and noted that they really had something special, with an offense that included guys like LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and even “Baby” Zach Ertz in his rookie season.
Vick and Jackson were asked if they could feel something special was building during training camp, and Jackson noted that it went even further back and that they really had a brotherhood — hanging out at each others houses, their families hanging out, and having a camaraderie that was really different, especially with players coming from all different places and backgrounds.
Which made that group breaking up even tougher, with Mike Vick even using the word “traumatizing” to describe it, particularly how abrupt it all happened.
When asked what the reason for that was, Jackson wasn’t shy to break it down:
“You have a coach that comes in and brings his own stigma, or culture — philosophy, whatever you want to call it — and he was one of them coaches where he didn’t believe in players. Like, it was his system. In the NFL it’s players that win championships.”
Jackson went on to explain that sure, the New England Patriots have their system, but Bill Belichick built it around the players he had, like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. The wideout even noted that when Kelly came to Philadelphia, Vick, Jackson, McCoy and Maclin were considered second or third-team players and were put in a position to earn their starting role everyday. There were not “set starters” for the Eagles.
Vick went on to talk about how he was battling Nick Foles for the starting spot at that time, and one day, he was lying in his hyperbaric chamber before a preseason game — the QB noted he’s been a 12-year starter in the league, and no disrespect to Foles, but was clearly winning the quarterback battle — and he was crying, because at this point he had done everything he could for Chip Kelly.
He explained that he showed leadership and let his play on the field speak for itself, galvanized the team when they were dealing with the Riley Cooper mess and somehow, it still wasn’t enough.
Let that visual soak in for a minute. Michael Vick, veteran quarterback who had fought his way back into the league after his prison stint, was brought to tears by Chip Kelly’s inability to connect and properly coach his players.
The QB went on to echo what Jackson had said, and that they had done everything they could to show Kelly that they were all-in and were giving him everything they had, but it was still more about the head coach’s system rather than the players. And that’s why they group split up.
Reports came out often about how Kelly had lost the locker room, but to hear from two of the offensive stars just how bad it got was eye opening. It also should make Eagles fans everywhere super appreciative of Doug Pederson and the culture and locker room he’s been able to cultivate in such a short period of time.
You definitely wouldn’t have seen Chip Kelly hugging each and every player as they went into the locker room following their final loss of the season.