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Chip Kelly Era Recap Part 3: Great Expectations

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The following is part three of a four part series chronicling the Chip Kelly era. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

 

The 2015 season was Chip Kelly’s first (and only) season which saw him completely in charge of player personnel. And when mandatory minicamp rolled around, Kelly made another move regarding one of his Pro Bowlers.

 

Just prior to training camp, offensive guard Evan Mathis, who was supposedly wanted the final two years of his contract restructured, was released by the team in June. Mathis, who was slated to earn $5.5 million in 2015 and $6 million in 2016, missed seven games with an MCL sprain in 2014, claimed he would have reported to camp without incident. photo: Oregonlive.com

 

However, Kelly either wasn’t convinced, wasn’t interested in paying an injury prone lineman the amount of money he was slated to make, or thought Mathis wasn’t buying into his philosophy- which was suggested by tight end Zach Ertz. Regardless of what it was, Mathis, was gone. Once again, Kelly did not replace a player the Eagles released with one of equal or better caliber, making the offensive line one of several question marks going to his first season with “his team.”

 

From an outsider’s perspective, it appeared that if you were a player on the Eagles and your opinions clashed at all with Kelly’s, you probably weren’t going to be around too much longer. Also included in that list of former players was cornerback Brandon Boykin, who sounded off on Kelly after being traded to the Steelers. Boykin claimed that Kelly “just wouldn't talk to people. You would walk down the hallway, he wouldn't say anything to you. And I don't know what that is. I'm not saying he's a racist in any way. As a player, I wanted to be able to relate to my coach a little bit better and I felt like a lot of guys in that locker room feel the same way.”

 

In hindsight, it makes you wonder whether Ertz’s comments regarding Mathis were more out of fear of losing his job than anything. By this time, the fans still had faith in what Kelly was doing, but more and more skepticism was becoming apparent as the team got ready for the preseason.

 

However, those suspicions were temporarily laid to rest when the Eagles went 3-1 in their four preseason games. Bradford, who took a shot at the knees from Ravens’ linebacker Terrell Suggs a week before, completed all 10 of his passes and threw for 121 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers in the team’s second to last game of the preseason. While one game isn’t an accurate projection of things to come, it was encouraging to see Bradford get more comfortable as the season approached. The preseason Birds outscored their opponents by 83-17 in the first half of their games, and many experts were predicting great things for the team. ESPN’s Adam Schefter even picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. Philadelphia and the entire Delaware Valley couldn’t wait for the season to start.

 

Unfortunately, by late November, many fans couldn’t wait for the season to end.

 

Stay tuned for part four of the Chip Kelly Era recap!

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Article photo: Oregonlive.com