Chip & Doug's opposite styles on display
BOCA RATON, Fla. - On the right side of the room, Chip Kelly indicated he was limited by a "weird situation" last season in Philadelphia, and asserted that despite complaints about aloofness from some former players, he wasn't going to change his approach in San Francisco.
BOCA RATON, Fla. -
On the right side of the room, Chip Kelly indicated he was limited by a "weird situation" last season in Philadelphia, and asserted that despite complaints about aloofness from some former players, he wasn't going to change his approach in San Francisco.
On the left side of the room, Doug Pederson touted an "open dialogue" with Howie Roseman, who was the focal point of conflict for Kelly, and said he would like for his players to see him "like a son going to your dad."
Two tables at the NFC coaches' breakfast Wednesday, the final day of the NFL meetings. Two very different-sounding coaches, Kelly now with the 49ers, Pederson settling in as Kelly's Eagles successor.
"Having the relationship with the players is key. I can connect with them, they can connect with me. I've been in the locker room before. I understand that dynamic and how that works," said Pederson, a former journeyman NFL quarterback.
Pederson said he wants a player to see him as "someone he can come to at any time. Almost like a - I don't want to say 'a father figure,' but like a son going to your dad.
"I also want them to see me (as) someone who has played the game. Somebody who understands the dynamic of the locker room. Somebody who understands the dynamic of practice, what it takes to win a championship, being on Green Bay's Super Bowl team, what it takes to get there. I want them to be able to see those things in me."
There were plenty of Eagles who got along with Kelly - Kelly said he heard from nearly all of them after he was fired - but a father figure or former fellow NFL warrior was not who he was, or ever tried to be.
Someone asked Kelly about Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie's assertion that he wanted a coach with "emotional intelligence."
Kelly, answering questions from Philadelphia-area reporters for the first time since his Dec. 29 dismissal, said it would be "very presumptuous" for him to try to figure out what Lurie was talking about. "That's a question for him."
Listening to Roseman, Lurie and now Kelly this week brings up anew the question of whether the Eagles' 2015 management structure was doomed to fail. In Kelly's version of events, he reluctantly accepted control of personnel only after Roseman fired exec Tom Gamble, who now works with Kelly, for the 49ers. In Lurie's version, Kelly laid out a comprehensive plan that Lurie endorsed, "to dissect if Chip was going to be right guy going forward or not . . . It was helpful to have him be accountable for those decisions, so that we could move on in the right way."
Lurie kept Roseman around after demoting him in January 2015, something that seemed odd at the time, and seems even more odd now that we know that amid all the jokes about Howie counting the towels in the equipment room, Lurie actually had dispatched Roseman to seek counsel on how to be a better general manager, in case this Kelly business didn't work out.
"It was always a potential," Lurie said Tuesday, when asked if he'd envisioned putting Roseman back in charge, as Lurie ended up doing three months ago.
Nobody in this affair has a claim on absolute truth, but you can certainly see how Kelly - ultimately doomed by terrible decisions such as trading LeSean McCoy, releasing Evan Mathis, and signing DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell - might have felt he was being set up to fail.
Asked if he thought having Roseman around last season undercut him, Kelly said he didn't ever see Roseman, so he didn't know what Roseman was doing. Kelly said he and Roseman, who still was handling contracts and the salary cap, communicated through Ed Marynowitz, the player-personnel executive Kelly promoted after he gained control. Asked if this seemed like a less-than-ideal structure, Kelly indicated it indeed was.
Kelly never seemed to accept much of the blame with the Eagles, and Wednesday he said he had nothing to do with the generous contracts given Murray and Maxwell, contracts Roseman has been praised for unloading this month. But Kelly acknowledged he decided those were players the Eagles needed, so presumably, he told Roseman to sign them. Or told Marynowitz to tell Roseman to sign them.
"I just didn't think we were on the same page," Kelly said of Roseman.
Kelly disputed the idea that he necessarily ever wanted final say in personnel.
"I would have been content to just go hire a general manager or something" after Gamble was fired in December 2014, Kelly said. "I didn't like the way it was. And I didn't ask for anything."
On being dismissed the Tuesday evening before the season finale, Kelly said: "Yeah, I was surprised. We'd spent the whole day game-planning and having practice. It was not something I saw coming. It is what it is."
Kelly pointedly lavished praise on 49ers general manager Trent Baalke - who, oddly enough, was Roseman to Jim Harbaugh's Kelly a couple years ago in San Francisco.
"Trent's got such a good grasp on this league. He's been in it so long. He's got great feel for how to put together a team," Kelly said, evoking the 49ers' near-miss in Super Bowl XLVII, without mentioning Harbaugh. "He's proved he can acquire talent and put talent on the field."
Pederson, meanwhile, almost seemed neglected over at his table Wednesday, with so many Eagles reporters eager to autopsy the Kelly era. But Pederson is the coach whose words will matter more in Philadelphia going forward, and he said he is eager to make a good first impression when the team gathers April 4 for the start of offseason workouts.
"For me, the biggest message is just to capture the guys. Just to show them a little bit of who I am, in a small window," before devoting the rest of the day to work, he said.
Asked if Roseman has sought Pederson's input in making his recent flurry of personnel moves, Pederson said: "Yes, yes, he has. The moves we've made this spring, whether it's signing our players or the free agents we've brought in . . . In all those situations, he's come to me and we've had dialogue, we've had conversation, he's asked my opinion."