Chip Kelly's people skills a large part of his undoing in Philadelphia
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie disliked the culture his organization had taken on under Chip Kelly's regime.
Chip Kelly alienated himself from most aspects of the Eagles organization, and while there was no one act or decision that led to his firing, a few instances resonated strongly with owner Jeffrey Lurie, according to multiple sources. Lurie received virtually unanimously negative sentiment throughout the team facility as he gathered information on his coach, with Kelly lacking any real support, save for a few exceptions. Several key employees were planning to pursue options with other teams had Kelly remained in power, sources said.
The totality of that feedback had a significant impact on the owner, and that, coupled with the Eagles' struggles on the field and Kelly's failed personnel moves following a public power struggle, resulted in his firing with one game still to be played this season.
Lurie disliked the culture his building had taken on, with Kelly unable to relate to most people on a human level and all interactions generally leading back to football. Even routine levels of small talk seemed impossible, and the owner began to question that ability of his coach to relate to or understand not only his players, but critical support staff as well. Some of the very coaches Kelly handpicked were even growing weary of his tactics and strained social skills, and Kelly was distant at best with other aspects of the organization, using exec Ed Marynowitz (who was also fired) as a go-between, relaying messages from Kelly to the scouting department and others in football operations.
The "relationship" between Kelly and former general manager Howie Roseman was already beyond repair -- "strained" would be an understatement -- and Lurie has always held Roseman in the highest regard (he is again atop the team's football operations structure with Kelly jettisoned). Lurie already worried about the long-term ability of the team to function given that divide and also grew weary of having to, in essence, hand his franchise over to Kelly in all regards and placate him on all matters.
For instance, Lurie has always taken considerable pride in the team's holiday party, going to great expense to throw the large gathering, with it becoming something of a prized tradition with him. According to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation, Kelly basically refused to attend it this year on its normal Monday night, and ultimately Lurie had to move it to a Friday afternoon onsite to facilitate Kelly's schedule. Kelly argued Monday night would disrupt the coach's planning for the week -- a fair enough claim -- but Lurie apologized to the organization for the haphazard way the party was conducted this year and told others it would not happen in that fashion ever again.
In and of itself, it's not a big deal, but given the timing, with the team falling out of the playoffs around Christmas and with the atmosphere in the organization growing more toxic, it exemplified the growing divide between the way Kelly operated and what Lurie wanted his organization to be. "That's just part of a long list of reasons why Jeffrey made this move," said one source close to the situation, "but the whole thing with the Christmas party just epitomizes the split from what Jeffrey wants the Eagles to be, and what he felt like they were becoming."
Lurie has already conducted one meeting with team leaders to determine the next course of action, sources said, with him soliciting feedback on priorities and strengths the next coach should embody. He wants players -- and people throughout the organization -- to feel more engaged in the franchise and to feel as if their voice matters in the wake of the Kelly debacle. Indeed, Lurie's vision of his organization and how it should be run is decidedly more "touchy feely" than Kelly's, and the decision to fire him before the end of the season was read as the owner taking his building back after ceding so much control to the head coach.
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