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Chip said he wasn't Eagles' GM; now he's right

ON MONDAY, Chip Kelly insisted that he was not the Eagles' general manager. By Tuesday night, he was right. In fact, he wasn't the coach anymore, either.

ON MONDAY, Chip Kelly insisted that he was not the Eagles' general manager.

By Tuesday night, he was right. In fact, he wasn't the coach anymore, either.

Jeffrey Lurie had endured enough of Kelly's culture and arrogance and losing. Lurie fired him.

Before Tuesday, Lurie was considered a billionaire egotist with a Ph.D., a brilliant milquetoast whose sycophancy concerning the NFL rendered him incapable of admitting to obvious mistakes. It was a remarkable break from character that Lurie delivered fiery pregame and postgame speeches at New England early this month, then distributed T-shirts to the team with "53 Angry Men" printed on them.

It was one angry man who ended Kelly's career in green.

For Lurie to fire Kelly so soon afterward is, simply, stunning. After all, only three months ago, Lurie called Kelly "a great leader."

Remember, Lurie let Andy Reid linger long past his expiration date. He finally fired Reid after Reid had gone mad with power in the kingdom he built over 14 years. Lurie gave Kelly the same absolute power in January, stripping favorite son Howie Roseman and anointing Kelly the new sovereign.

How then could Lurie exile Kelly so soon; only three years into a five-year deal; clearly unwilling to wait more than one season for Kelly's skewed vision to bear fruit?

Well, the Eagles failed to win an atrocious NFC East by losing five of their last seven games. Their last four losses were by an average of 24 points. Laughers.

Jeffrey Lurie hates to be laughed at.

Thanks to Kelly's scorched-earth makeover, the Eagles teams that Kelly coached to consecutive 10-6 seasons bore scant resemblance to the 6-9 edition he will watch on television Sunday. Kelly replaced 12 of 25 core players from 2014, but the team regressed in every area except quarterback, where Sam Bradford improved weekly. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who most intimately coached Bradford, will assume head-coaching duties when the Eagles visit the Giants.

It seemed more likely that Shurmur, defensive coordinator Bill Davis and other assistants would pay the price for the disappointment of 2015. Perhaps Kelly tried the old, "If they go, I go!" bluff.

Perhaps Lurie, or Kelly, or both, simply realized that Kelly is not cut out for the big time. After all, he'd been a head coach for only four years, tucked away in Eugene, Ore. There, fueled by Nike booster money, he built a national title contender from a historically mediocre program. He left with the NCAA on his tail. Coincidence?

Kelly preached culture, but at no juncture did he create a nurturing culture in which grown men felt comfortable enough to thrive. His was an autocracy, a monarchy so absolute that players fretted over every word uttered, every step taken (they were forbidden to walk on the grass).

A promise that the team would become more transparent dissolved as Kelly's imprint deepened, creating an unnecessary schism between team and fan. Kelly moved training camp from Lehigh University, where the franchised forged its unprecedented love affair with the region, to the team's NovaCare Complex, where only well-heeled sponsors could watch. He closed practices. He lied about his knowledge of injuries.

It was a tiresome and petty show of power; a silly, bullying way to do business.

It permeated everything.

Of all the damning utterances to fall from the lips of the disaffected, the most telling complaint came after Kelly traded nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin to the Steelers. Boykin is a well-spoken, middle-class kid with two white-collar parents who exited a big-time high school program outside Atlanta and attended SEC stalwart Georgia.

"You could walk down the hallway, he wouldn't say anything to you," Boykin said.

That statement explains so much.

Certainly, it amplifies the oblique accusations by Boykin, traded running back LeSean McCoy and fired assistant coach Tra Thomas that Kelly was, at best, uncomfortable with strong-minded black players; at worst, racist.

It explains much more, though.

It explains how tone-deaf Kelly was to the locker room when, during Kelly's first training camp, a video of white receiver Riley Cooper was leaked to TMZ in which Cooper used the N-word at a country music concert. Kelly sent Cooper away for three days of reflection and, allegedly, counseling. He then put the onus on the players to accept Cooper back into the fold.

At the time, the best players on the team were black: McCoy, Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Cary Williams, Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, Michael Vick. It was Vick's detente that muted blowback from players.

After the season, Kelly extended Cooper's contract and cut Jackson, who landed in Washington and helped end the Eagles' playoff chances Saturday.

Kelly continued to dismantle the club. McCoy was traded for Kiko Alonso, a disaster at inside linebacker this season. Maclin was low-balled and reunited with Reid in Kansas City, largely, said Maclin, because he felt Reid wanted him and Kelly did not.

The running back, linebacker and receiver positions this season were atrocious.

The offensive line was even worse. Incredibly, Kelly made no moves to bolster it after 2014; in fact, Kelly's release of Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis in early June was the single most arrogant, irresponsible move Kelly made in three seasons. There was no viable Plan B.

Kelly claimed that Mathis, absent for the team's voluntary offseason workouts, had threatened a holdout. Mathis refuted this. And if Mathis held out, so what? Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor held out two games into the season this year. The Seahawks survived.

Why cut Mathis? Oh, right: culture. And arrogance.

That Lurie also fired Ed Marynowitz, Kelly's personal personnel go-fer, points to this all being about personnel decisions, and that would be enough.

Among the 2015 errors: free agents DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell were overpaid; first-round receiver Nelson Agholor, second-year wideout Josh Huff, free agent Miles Austin and Cooper (again) were embarassing; Alonso and fellow linebacker Ryans were still hindered by injuries from 2014; second-year, first-round pick Marcus Smith spun his wheels; right guards Andrew Gardner and Matt Tobin stunk.

Meanwhile, Maclin, Mathis, Jackson and McCoy are elsewhere.

There was so much more than personnel.

Kelly continued to ignore how, when his up-tempo offense sputtered, the defense eroded as seasons progressed. He insisted that time of possession meant nothing, only plays run.

The Eagles have ranked last in time of possession each of Kelly's seasons, about 26 minutes per game. That means outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who plays nearly all of the defensive snaps, plays nearly 130 minutes more per season than any offensive teammate. That's nearly 4 1/2 extra games per year and 13.5 extra games since 2013.

Barwin and fellow high-use linebacker Brandon Graham have combined for half a sack in the last three games.

Time of possession was just one blind spot born of an excess of arrogance. Who could blame Chippah for his grand delusion?

After all, Kelly spurned the Eagles' first offer. They then begged him to take the job, offering partial roster control. They ignored more solid contenders, such as Bruce Arians, whose first-place Cardinals undressed Kelly and Lurie two weeks ago. Little wonder Kelly considered himself King Chippah from Day One, bulletproof and omniscient.

From the perspective of many black players, among them vital veterans McCoy, Jackson and Williams, Kelly aligned himself with Cooper . . . and against them.

In his dealings with Maclin and Mathis, Kelly let every player and agent know that his culture mattered more than anything; certainly, more than any player.

Kelly allowed his stupefying use of Murray - a downhilll runner running sweeps, a workhorse abandoned at crunch time - to be a weekly distraction. Weekly, stupefyingly, he blamed it on running backs coach Duce Staley.

Everything, distilled, reverts to the single common flaw:


These things are true because I decree them so.

On Monday, in a final, delusional rant, Kelly claimed that since he didn't assign every scout to every region, he wasn't a general manager.

Twenty-four hours later, he was right.

On Twitter: @inkstainedretch