DeMarco Murray apparently was unaware of the bombshell that LeSean McCoy, his predecessor at running back on the Philadelphia Eagles, dropped in a May issue of ESPN The Magazine.
A player suggesting, in a national forum, that race influenced a coach’s roster decisions would seem to be pretty hard to miss – especially when the coach in question, Chip Kelly, is now Murray’s coach.
But whether it was missed or is simply being dismissed by current Eagles, McCoy’s assertion that Kelly was quicker to part ways with “all the good black players” than anyone else doesn’t appear to be causing a whole lot of backlash for his former coach. CSNPhilly.com reported that Murray, who is black, said the following with a smirk while standing on the edge of the practice field at the Eagles’ training complex: “I’m looking around. There are a lot of us out here. I’m not sure about that.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who is also black, gave reporters the following supportive assessment of Kelly’s decision-making process: “Chip has been very, very transparent on what he’s evaluating us on. That’s not only what we do on the field, but what we do in our assessments and how disciplined we are with our nutrition and all the sports science stuff. I haven’t seen him make a move outside of those parameters. I don’t think anybody in the locker room now thinks we have an issue with race. I don’t see that being a problem in the future.”
Nevertheless, McCoy, whom the Eagles traded to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, did. There is no ignoring that.
Should we expect players to show anything other than support for their coach with cameras and microphones in their faces? Probably not. But it also doesn’t necessarily mean we have to automatically assume they’re being insincere.
Either way, they have been put in an awkward position, thanks to McCoy. So has Kelly, who told reporters that he had “great respect” for the running back but said he was wrong and that of all the factors that go into his selection and retention of players, “color’s never been one of them.” He also said that McCoy twice rejected his attempts to contact him.
“It upsets me that our team has to deal with those comments,” Eagles center Jason Kelce told reporters. “It upsets me that it’s just another distraction to put in front of our guys who all bought in and are doing things the right way.”
Whether it was McCoy’s intention to bring a little bit of disruption to the Eagles’ offseason is unknown. That and other questions about the thinking behind his volatile remarks have yet to be addressed because McCoy hasn’t been made available to reporters since the magazine came out. That was supposed to happen after last Wednesday’s OTA practice, but the Bills’ public relations staff later said that McCoy would meet with reporters after the next session that is open to the media, which is this Wednesday.
McCoy does need to address the matter publicly. His accusations are serious and their ramifications go well beyond his relationship with one coach or one team.
It was no secret that McCoy was initially unhappy about joining the Bills, that his preference was to remain with the Eagles and continue to play in Pennsylvania, where he was born and raised and spent his entire football life until the trade. It would be fair to think that there is some lingering bitterness over the fact he no longer is in Philadelphia, where he established himself as one of the NFL’s best players at his position and earned a contract that paid him $10 million last year and will pay him $16 million this year.
But one has to wonder if those feelings are consuming McCoy’s thoughts as he prepares to fill a critical role in the Bills’ efforts to deliver on the loftiest expectations to precede one of their seasons in many years. One also can’t help but wonder whether McCoy, in fact, has created a distraction for himself as well as for the Eagles.
There are plenty of other questions for him to answer. What else, besides being traded, did Kelly do to convince McCoy that there was a racial agenda behind the coach’s roster moves? What sort of feedback has he received from former Eagle teammates? What are his early impressions of the environment created by his new coach, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the Bills’ organization?
What does he expect the scene to be like on Dec. 13, when the Bills face the Eagles in Philadelphia?
Schwartz helping officials
Jim Schwartz will probably get another head-coaching job in the NFL, but it won’t be until the 2016 season at the earliest.
Schwartz helped his cause considerably by the superb job he did as the Bills’ defensive coordinator last season. Granted, he had considerable talent, but he did do more than his share to maximize its production.
Now, Schwartz is going to be lending his football knowledge to a different cause: officiating. With the Bills still paying two more years of his salary, he is going to keep himself involved in the game by serving as a consultant to the league’s officiating department.
He already has been instrumental in a key rules change. In a 2012 Thanksgiving Day game, Schwartz, while coaching the Detroit Lions, threw a red flag because he saw that Justin Forsett was down early in what would be an 81-yard touchdown run. At the time, the challenge flag negated an automatic review of a scoring play, and Forsett’s TD stood. But thanks to Schwartz, the NFL recognized the flaw in the rule and changed it in the following offseason.
The NFL’s officiating department, which has come under fire for the increasingly shoddy work by its crews, figures to benefit from a coach’s perspective – at least until he’s coaching again.
Wallace in better fit
To call Mike Wallace a massive disappointment for the Miami Dolphins would be a massive understatement.
The Dolphins gave the wide receiver a $60-million contract when they signed him as a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. For that sort of money, Wallace was expected to deliver many more than the 12 catches of 20 or more yards he made the past two seasons. That’s an average of about half of those explosive gains he produced per year in four seasons with the Steelers.
It didn’t take long for the relationship between Wallace and the Dolphins to sour – to the point where he was shipped to the Minnesota Vikings last March.
In Wallace’s eyes, the problem in Miami had less to do with him than it did with a scheme that emphasized short, high-percentage throws. He also developed zero chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
After participating in offseason workouts with his new team, Wallace is certain that he’s back in the right sort of offense that allows his game-breaking skills to flourish. Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner believes in an aggressive, attack-oriented passing game. Wallace also is spending extra time in practice working with second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“I think it’s more so” like “my first four years,” Wallace told ESPN.com about his situation in Minnesota. “It’s a vertical offense,” rather “than a short, West Coast offense. You go down the field a lot more here, more what I’m accustomed to.”
• How’s this for confidence? New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham fully expects to draw plenty of double-coverage this season after receiving rookie-of-the-year honors for the way he abused secondaries in 2014. “But it’s just not going to work,” he told NJ.com, pointing out that opponents would suffer the consequences because of the presence of the Giants’ other two big-play threats at receiver, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle.
• In their search for players, the Lions are putting greater emphasis on character and stability. That is why it is no coincidence that in the last two years, the Lions have drafted five players who were married or engaged.
“This group that we drafted and signed as free agents is probably the best group of players as” far as “checking the three boxes of physical talent, emotional intelligence and maturity and work ethic that I’ve seen in maybe the 21 years I’ve been with the Lions,” Lions CEO Tom Lewand was quoted as saying in the Detroit Free Press. “And we’ve got players coming in here who have a previous disposition to doing the right thing, whether that’s how they work off the field, whether that’s how they work on the field, how they prepare, their love of the game.”
• Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders doesn’t expect the team to have the sort of dynamic passing game it has had the past three seasons. One would assume that that’s another way of saying that quarterback Peyton Manning is simply too old and physically worn down to keep the offense rolling at the same pace that allowed him to catch 101 passes for 1,404 yards as the Broncos’ No. 2 receiver. That was only 10 fewer catches than the team’s No. 1 wide out, Demaryius Thomas, had.
But Sanders wasn’t dissing Manning. He was referring to the conservative passing game of new coach Gary Kubiak, who doesn’t employ the fast-paced scheme that the Broncos ran when Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator for former coach John Fox.
“Of course obviously it’s not going to be one of those offenses – well, I’m praying that it is – but obviously it’s not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you’re going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes,” Sanders told reporters. “It’s definitely different. You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that’s huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It’s different.”