DeSean Jackson Release Could Make or Break Chip Kelly's Eagles Career

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DeSean Jackson Release Could Make or Break Chip Kelly's Eagles Career
Tony Gutierrez

Very rarely do NFL teams release star players for seemingly no reason. Not when they are in the prime of their careers and coming off their best seasons.

Chip Kelly is now an exception to that rule, having made the decision to cut ties with Jackson after he recorded 82 catches, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.

And to make matters worse, Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins. If Jackson continues to succeed and the Eagles fail to find a replacement quickly, they may be reminded of their mistake twice a year.

Why then, did Kelly choose to release Jackson? Despite supposedly being more open than the tight-lipped Andy Reid, Kelly has offered no explanation for why he cut one of the fanbase's favorite players. Don't believe any of that talk of his supposed gang membership. Jackson has never been arrested or done anything criminally wrong since joining the Eagles. The team is merely using that as a convenient excuse to cut him.

More likely, earlier reports about Jackson not getting along with Kelly seem more realistic. With the gang ties, Kelly now had a convenient excuse to remove a player who was a headache. 

Kelly's decision was likely made to send a message to his team by making an example out of Jackson, but unless he can quickly fill the departed receiver's production, it may do just the opposite. Rather than show that the team is above any individual, it shows that the coach is above the team.

Tony Gutierrez
Not only will the Eagles be losing Jackson's production, but they will now face him twice a year

The locker room has not exactly gone out of its way to defend Jackson, with two anonymous players saying Jackson will not be missed on the field or in the locker room. But winning matters most at the end of the day.

Sure, Jackson is probably not the nicest guy out there, but part of the responsibility of being an NFL coach is putting up with difficult personalities if it means on-field production in return. If the Eagles struggle at any point next season, many will wonder if Kelly prioritized his power struggle over the good of the team.

Let's also not get too carried away after the impressive 2013 campaign. The Eagles certainly seem like the best NFC East team right now, but a lot can go wrong come September that is beyond Kelly's control.

What if Riley Cooper just had a fluke season in 2013? After all, part of the reason Cooper was able to make plays was due to double-teams being drawn by Jackson. 

What if Jeremy Maclin is not the same player after his ACL injury? What if he can't stretch the field the way Jackson did?

What if a rookie wide receiver takes many years to develop? What if Nick Foles also had a fluke season and is not the franchise player he looked to be last year?

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Whether fair or unfair, it will always come back to the Jackson decision if any of these things happen. This is especially true if Jackson continues to be successful in Washington.

Furthermore, Jackson makes the Redskins offense much more potent. He is joining an already-talented offensive corp, consisting of Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris. The Eagles are probably still favored to win the division, but a once cakewalk NFC East just got a lot harder.

Washington is no longer an easy out two times a year. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis must now find a way to contain one of the most talented passing attacks with last season's 32nd-ranked pass defense.

A successful 2013 season granted Kelly unanimous confidence from fans, players, and the organization. After the Jackson fiasco, however, he must make the postseason in 2014.

If not, he could be second-guessed for the rest of his tenure in Philly.

 

Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR

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