THE 12: #4 SHOOT STRAIGHT
AFTER Jim Washburn was fired last year we learned that he had openly referred to Juan Castillo as “Jaunita”. As Castillo was the Defensive Coordinator and Washburn was a position coach, this was technically a guy openly mocking his supervisor. I don’t know about how your job works, but in most cases that’s a write-up, a suspension, and even a firing.
When nothing was done about it, or worse when the subordinate was fired weeks after the supervisor over something not related to that matter, it said something loud and clear to anyone who saw or heard about it. It said that there is no leader, or chain of accountability.
Now it’s easy to say “Yeah um... Well…that was under Reid! We got us a new coach now.” While that’s true, there’s already been a pattern of dysfunctional communication, and murky leadership since we got our new coach in Chip Kelly.
First he’s not interested, then he comes back and signs up. He keeps secret his choice for Offensive Coordinator even though it’s clear that it’s Pat Shurmur, because Shurmur is the guy representing the Eagles while scouting players. There’s the holding out past the Super Bowl for a new DC, only to sign a guy who’d been available since December. There’s the 5 QB’s in a 3 way race for starter. The FA bust who’s been given an ultimatum, who so far hasn’t blinked, but hasn’t been cut.
It’s gotten so that by comparison the words of last year’s Eagles were easier for us to believe than this year’s model. And that’s a problem.
Poor communication can ruin almost anything. So can nebulous leadership. Coupled together there is no way to surmount those obstacles. Right now this team needs a direction. They need a rally point. Like an emotional leader in a huddle, having a central idea, a shared big picture, can act as something that everybody can go back to when the **** hits the fan. You can have a Brian Dawkins or Ray Lewis to preach to the troops, but those guys need something to preach. They need a central message. They also need a leadership structure behind them that gives weight to what they say.
Define the boundaries. Players won’t respect a staff that isn’t on the same page. If Michael Vick comes to the sideline with his shoulders slumped, and DC Billy Davis says to him “Fix your body language!” Vick needs to know that snapping at Davis will get him into hot water with Shurmur AND Kelly. Because a coach is a coach. Period. If the rookies see that even the starting QB is accountable, they will know they are accountable, and it will become culture here.
On the other hand coaches need to know that childish infighting is a way to find themselves watching the game from home, unless they get a job with another team. If the people at the top don’t foster the team concept, it can’t be handed down to the players.
If Kelly is clear and straight with his team, and if he punishes and rewards accordingly, the rest will take care of itself. It’s been true of Pop Warner, High School, College, Semi-pro, and we’ve even seen it work in the NFL.
Just shoot straight.
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