LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray are about as different as running backs can get in the NFL, both on and off the field. One runs like an improvisational jazz musician with unpredictable results. The other methodically reads the notes and plays them as written.
Their football styles are an extension of their personalities. McCoy is capricious. He is often gregarious but can turn inward on a dime. He can be brutally honest, sometimes to a fault. Murray is introverted. His words are measured, as is his demeanor. Some teammates describe him as aloof.
Chip Kelly didn't trade one for the other, and their usage doesn't exactly line up, but Murray, in essence, replaced McCoy. The comparison, of course, is an apt one this Sunday. The Eagles host McCoy's Bills, and while their on-field production will be gauged against one another, the off-field implications are already worth exploring.
In particular, for all the talk about Kelly's removing players and adding others all in the name of culture, was McCoy really someone who couldn't coexist with others in the locker room, and has it been Murray who hasn't assimilated and become a distraction?
Through 12 games, the combination of moves that landed McCoy in Buffalo and Murray in Philadelphia hasn't been beneficial to the Eagles on game days. Murray is averaging 3.5 yards a carry and was relegated to a lesser role last week, while McCoy, after early-season woes partly attributed to a hamstring injury, has maintained his place among the league's elite.
Both players made waves last week, although true to their nature, one did so publicly, while the other apparently handled his business behind the scenes. McCoy has said that he isn't bitter about the trade and that he doesn't hate Kelly, but his earlier words have said otherwise. He said he wouldn't shake his former coach's hand if presented to him.
"He knows that ain't going to happen," McCoy said Wednesday. "You all know that's not going to happen. We're not shaking no hands."
Murray, according to an ESPN report, spoke to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie on the plane ride home after the Eagles' upset win over the Patriots about his decreased role. He declined to give details. Despite various other reports that he isn't happy in Kelly's offense and wants out, Murray said he was committed to the Eagles beyond this season.
"One hundred percent yes," he said.
His $8 million salary and the $13 million salary cap hit the Eagles take next season suggest Murray couldn't go anywhere even if he wanted to. The last time the Eagles were handcuffed by a contract from an underperforming free agent was with Nnamdi Asomugha in 2011-12.
There is also the similarity in how each is viewed in the locker room. Murray and Asomugha have different personalities, but when a high-priced free agent enters the picture and is detached from most of the team, it can have consequences, especially if he complains to the owner about his playing time following the biggest win of the season.
"We're all fine with him," tackle Lane Johnson said, "but this one thing here, you just got to kind of watch what you say, and if you say it, you got to be accountable for it and own up to it."
Murray isn't exactly eating alone in his car like Asomugha did on occasion. He has two teammates he spends most of his time off with - former Oklahoma roommate Sam Bradford and tight end Zach Ertz. Miles Austin was the third, but Murray's former Cowboys teammate was released Monday.
"I feel like I have a great relationship with everyone," Murray said. "Obviously, I'm not a big rah-rah-rah guy. I'm a quiet guy, but I feel like I have a great relationship with a lot of guys, a lot of individual guys that you spend more time with on certain things."
Murray has been with the Eagles for only nine months. McCoy was here for six years. He had certain built-in advantages when it came to his reputation in the locker room. But he was as popular as anyone. He often hosted parties and would invite the entire team.
It didn't take long for McCoy to immerse himself in the Bills locker room, according to coach Rex Ryan.
"He just came right in here, and, shoot, the guys love him," Ryan said. "I don't know what to tell you."
McCoy initially didn't want to go to the Bills. He found out about the trade from his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, by phone. McCoy was training in Miami at the time and after breaking down in tears, he resumed running a series of sprints, each one faster than the next.
Kelly lamented how the news of the trade was relayed to McCoy. An ESPN reporter broke the story before Kelly had an opportunity to tell the running back himself. Kelly eventually tried to reach McCoy, but the calls were never answered.
He tried again on Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the call. McCoy didn't recognize the number and answered. When Kelly identified himself, McCoy hung up. On Wednesday, McCoy said he stood by offseason comments he made about Kelly's not respecting stars and getting rid of all the "good black players."
"I know he was pissed, and he should be pissed, rightly so," Kelly said.
McCoy was also upset that it took so long for Lurie to call after the trade. Even before the 2014 season, when asked about his chances of suffering the same fate as DeSean Jackson, McCoy had referred to his close relationship with Lurie.
McCoy has said he loved being an Eagle. He grew up in Harrisburg. He was drafted and developed by the team. He became the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards. He was the alpha dog of the locker room.
"A lot of my good friends are still on that team," McCoy said.
But he's gone, for whatever the reason. Kelly has said it was only about money. Lurie suggested it was football-related. McCoy said he still doesn't know. He may have provided the answer when he pointed out the differences between his last two coaches and how Ryan doesn't care about ancillary things like clothing or the kind of car you drive.
"Chip - a lot of things matter to him but playing ball," McCoy said.
Kelly said he still stood by the trade and the subsequent signing of Murray. The locker room may have a different assessment.