BOCA RATON, Fla. – Chip Kelly shed more light this morning on the Eagles’ dysfunctional front-office structure from last year, one that now appears to be have been doomed from the start after owner Jeffrey Lurie gave the coach final say, but kept demoted former-general manager Howie Roseman in the front office.
Kelly, questioned by Philadelphia-area reporters for the first time since Lurie fired him, said at the NFL meetings that he didn’t have direct communication with Roseman last year, even though the now-executive vice president of football operations retained authority over the salary cap and contract negotiations.
The 49ers coach said that former vice president of player personnel Ed Marynowitz was responsible for dealing with Roseman daily and that Marynowitz acted as an intermediary between the two.
Kelly and Marynowitz would evaluate players and deem which free agents they wanted and the latter would pass the information on to Roseman to negotiate a contract, per Kelly. Roseman has declined to address his role last offseason.
Kelly said that Roseman worked out the deals for running back DeMarco Murray and cornerback Byron Maxwell. Roseman, whom Lurie returned to power after Kelly’s firing, traded both players this offseason.
Asked if the structure wasn’t a productive way to do business, Kelly said, “Yeah, you would think.”
He said it was Lurie’s construct.
“I wasn’t the personnel guy. I was in charge of the 90-man roster,” Kelly said during the NFC coaches breakfast. “But I didn’t negotiate and say this guy gets this amount of money and that guy gets that amount of money. That wasn’t what I did.
“And Ed was the one who ran our personnel department. That really fell on Ed’s shoulders in terms of how he handled everything. And Ed communicated with him all the time.”
Marynowitz was fired along with Kelly on the Tuesday before the season finale. Kelly said he was shocked when Lurie called him into his office and told him the news.
“Yeah, I was surprised,” Kelly said. “We had spent the whole day game planning at our practice. Not something you saw coming. It is what it is.”
Kelly said almost all his players contacted him after he was let go.
“I heard from almost every guy on the team,” he said. “That part was really kind of humbling.”
Several players and ex-players, including tackle Lane Johnson and cornerback Brandon Boykin, have spoken about Kelly’s distance from some of his players.
“I think when you got that many [players] you’re not going to be 100 percent,” Kelly said.
Lurie seemed to be referencing Kelly’s problems with relating to players when he said in December that he wanted a new coach who had “emotional intelligence” and was capable of “opening his heart” to his players.
Kelly said he “didn’t understand” Lurie’s comments and whether he was referring to him.
Asked if the criticism made him consider changing his philosophy in regards to how he’ll deal with his players in San Francisco, Kelly said, “You got to take the whole scope of it, not just a vocal minority.”
“You can listen to the Jason Kelces, and the Brent Celeks, and the Darren Sproles, and the Brandon Grahams and the DeMeco Ryanses,” he added. “Those guys who were very encouraging. You got to take it all in. You just can’t say one person said one thing so I’m going to change how we do this.”
Kelly gave pat answers when initially asked about why he thought he was fired and why it didn’t work out in Philly. The Eagles won 10 games in each of his first two seasons and went 6-9 last season before he was let go.
He said during his opening news conference with the 49ers that he hadn’t yet done a self-autopsy on what went wrong in Philly and what he needed to change. Asked two months later what that autopsy ultimately revealed, Kelly said, “That I didn’t win enough games in our third year.”
But when he began to be asked questions about the front-office structure, Kelly opened up. He again said he didn’t ask for final say, although Lurie has said that he did and that he did so to hold him accountable.
“I didn’t like the way it was, but I didn’t ask for anything,” Kelly said. “It’s [Lurie’s] organization and his team. He can run it however he wants to run it. It wasn’t like I’m walking out the door.”
Kelly said that the firing of former vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble in December 2014 led him to question the direction the organization was headed. He said he would have been content just hiring a general manager. Lurie chose to keep both, however.
Asked if he thought having Roseman still in the building undermined his ability to run the team, Kelly said, “I never really saw him so I don’t know what he did on a daily basis.”
Was there trust between the two?
“It was just a weird situation,” Kelly said. “He was there for two years and then he wasn’t there for one year.”
Lurie said yesterday that he had Roseman study successful front offices from the sporting world during his year away from evaluation. Asked if his time away was only temporary, Lurie said that there was always the “potential” that Roseman would return to power.
Roseman, in January, took some responsibility for the deterioration of his relationship with Kelly.
“I just didn’t think we were on the same page,” Kelly said.