For Fans, Willing Cures All

With the release of DeSean Jackson, Chip Kelly will be put directly in the spotlight 

This piece is not about right or wrong. I’m not going to talk about whether my personal feelings for DeSean Jackson are greater than my feelings for the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. I won’t try to justify the Eagles decision or defend Jackson. I just want to be honest, and the truth is, nobody will care about the Eagles cutting DeSean Jackson if the team wins.

Here’s the thing about winning: it cures all. Very few people care about what goes on inside and outside the locker room as long as the team wins. Prior to the recent allegations about Jackson’s outside actions and associations, fans did not care, as long as he showed up on Sundays. Stories will begin to come out about the type of person the wide receiver was in the locker room, but to the paying customer, what matters were the following: 82. 1,332. 9.

The California native put up career highs in his first and only season under Chip Kelly. But Jackson is not the first talented receiver to be released following an outstanding season. The Eagles have a history cutting talented, yet problematic receivers. Terrell Owens was well on his way to setting Philadelphia Eagles records prior to being released midway through the 2005 season. Cris Carter would go on to have a Hall of Fame career after being released following the 1989 season.

How did the Eagles and their fans come to grips with releasing both players? They won. The Carter-less Eagles returned to the playoffs the following season, only to lose in the first round. After Buddy Ryan’s dismissal, Rich Kotite led the Eagles to a 10-6 record. In 2005, after Owens divided the locker room, the Eagles limped to a 6-10 record. The following season the team returned to the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

So what will next season bring for the Eagles? Without the game breaking speed of Jackson, who will the Eagles rely on? The smart money will be Zach Ertz with some Darren Sproles sprinkled in, but do not be surprised if the Eagles draft a player similar to Jackson in Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. Although the Eagles believe in Kelly and his ability to input different pieces and expect success, replacing the talented but controversial receiver will be no easy task.

Releasing the 27-year old wide receiver is a hot topic, and will continue to be one until the end of the 2014 NFL season, but how much do the fans agree or disagree with the Eagles decision? In poll, 70% of  respondents agreed with the Birds decision.

Ultimately, to appease a fan base, not much has to be done. Fans don’t care about names, they care about the team and winning. If the Eagles can continue to grow and take the next step in their development, releasing DeSean Jackson can be, and will be forgiven. But if the Birds regress at all, the bulls eye will be squarely on “Big Chip.”

Hal Greenblatt covers the Eagles for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @HMGreenblatt