Eagles News: Lane Johnson Discusses Chip Kelly Being Released


Lane Johnson was the first Eagles draft pick made during the Chip Kelly era. The offensive tackle out of the University of Oklahoma has gradually progressed into a solid, yet unspectacular fixture along the right side of the Eagles offensive line. Johnson has occasionally filled in for an injured Jason Peters as the more important left tackle, and performed admirably. Given the players taken around him towards the top of the 2013 draft, one would have to say Johnson was a ‘hit’ for the Eagles with the 4th overall selection.

Next: Highlights of Jeffrey Lurie Presser

Johnson does have a track record of speaking his mind and not particularly worrying about how people respond to it. One could make a case that his candidness is a refreshing, albeit perplexing at times, approach compared to how many go about speaking with the media. Johnson has been a warrior in his short career as an Eagle. He has played the better part of the 2015 season with an injured knee, and done so without complaining about it. For better or worse, Johnson is a crucial building block to whomever the next Eagles coach is and has the type of leadership qualities that should be valued in the NFL.

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Following the team’s first practice since Chip Kelly’s firing, the Eagles players had an opportunity to shed light on their reaction to the decision and why their former head coach ultimately could not succeed in Philadelphia. Johnson was his normal forthright self on Wednesday, as he gave his take on the matter.

On Kelly’s Communication Issues: 

"“I think Chip really did care about this team, I just think there were some difficulties with him coming out and saying what he needed to say.”"

"“It seemed kind of like [Bill] Belichick, You know how, sometimes in his press conferences, he’s kind of unapproachable sometimes? Maybe some guys felt that way."

On Kelly’s Approachability: 

"“I think everyone just talked to their position coaches and hoped it would trickle, you know, like a chain reaction. Ultimately it doesn’t work that way, because those guys are employed by [Kelly] and [Jeffrey Lurie], so maybe it was an intimidation factor a little bit? Maybe a hard guy to approach? People didn’t feel like they were comfortable doing that, especially after some of the changes that were made.”"

On the Player Personnel Overhaul That Took Place With Kelly in Charge: 

"“It was surprising, it definitely was,” Johnson said. “All the major moves, I just personally sat back and watched it, and wondered, ‘How’s this going to pan out? And if it doesn’t, it’s going to be real bad.’ And that’s kind of the feeling of a lot of the players. Just let things unfold where they did. I basically had no control. It was shocking, so basically I just sat back and let the chips fall where they may.”"

On Kelly’s Coaching Ability: 

"“Hell, the first two seasons, we broke franchise records,” Johnson said. “He’s proven he can do it. When we get the right personnel, he’s proven he’s a great coach.”"

On What May Have Led to Kelly’s Demise: 

"“I think, like I said, there was tension upstairs, and ultimately I think that’s what led to him being released.”"

On What He Hopes For In the Team’s Next Head Coach: 

"“I just want to see a guy who really cares about his players, and if you have any suggestions … just do well at communicating. Not set in stone with his ways, and just be willing to all work together in one direction.”"

These quotes came courtesy of an impressive, in-depth article by Tim McManus of Birds 24/7. All information is attributed to him and his website: phillymag.com/birds247. There is plenty more prime Eagles content over there as well.

Johnson’s comments likely do not capture the entire pulse of the locker room, but he’s not the only one that has given a player’s perspective on some of the issues that doomed Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia. There will likely continue to be both attributed and anonymous critiques of the head coach trickling into the media. With this decision being made prior to the end of the season, players do not have an opportunity to use their offseason as a shield from discussing these issues.