Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jason Avant reveals that he 'butted heads' with Chip Kelly

DeSean Jackson wasn't the only wide receiver that didn't mesh with Chip Kelly in Kelly's first season as head coach of the Eagles. According to Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Obvserver, with a h/t to BGN, Kelly butted heads with Jason Avant.

Jason Avant reveals that he 'butted heads' with Chip Kelly

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Former Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant. (Ben Margot/AP file photo)
Former Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant. (Ben Margot/AP file photo)

DeSean Jackson wasn't the only wide receiver that didn't mesh with Chip Kelly in Kelly's first season as head coach of the Eagles. According to Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Obvserver, with a h/t to BGN, Kelly butted heads with Jason Avant.

"Avant was not a fan of Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly, however. Kelly’s first season in Philadelphia in 2013 turned out to be Avant’s last as an Eagle. Avant ranked sixth on the team in receiving yardage and, in his words, “mostly ran clear-out routes.”

Said Avant of Kelly: “When it came to certain things, we butted heads sometimes – route running and route technique. So I knew I didn’t fit his system.”

The numbers certainly back up Avant's claim that he didn't fit Kelly's system.

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All season long, the Eagles showed that they liked to stretch the field horizontally (sideline to sideline), in addition to vertically. The premise of using every inch of the field horizontally is that you make the opposing defense cover the enitre field, spreading them out and getting your offensive weapons the ball in their hands with room to run.

And the results were there. Aided by Kelly's efforts to spread out opposing defenses, the Eagles' weapons in the passing game were able to accumulate a lot of yards after the catch. Brent Celek led all NFL tight ends (minimum 30 catches) with 9.5 yards on average after the catch (YAC), while LeSean McCoy led all NFL running backs (minimum 30 catches) with 12.0 in average YAC. Celek, McCoy, and Riley Cooper all had career highs in average YAC, and four of the five Eagles regulars in the passing game had better YAC averages in 2013 than they had in their respective careers.

The lone exception, as you can see, was Jason Avant, who already had an unimpressive career YAC average to begin with, which tumbled even further under Kelly.

Avant has never been a receiver who was going to give you big plays in the passing game. For his career, Avant has just two receptions of 40+ yards, and none over the last four years. What Avant did provide, however, was a sure-handed option over the middle who caught 66.5 percent of the passes thrown his way. He has also been regarded as a consummate teammate and leader.

At this stage in his career, however, Avant may only be a leader. In 2013, not only did Avant's YAC average take a plunge, but the percentage of completions on passes thrown his way plummeted. Avant caught just 50 percentof passes intended him last season, which was far below his career average.

Avant was key in keeping the Eagles' locker room together in the wake of Riley Cooper's racial slur video during training camp in 2013. It's hard to quantify what Cooper's fate would have been without Avant going to bat for him, and how the season would have played out without Avant's strong presence among his teammates.

But from an on the field perspective, Avant simply wasn't productive enough in an offense that is tailor made for slot receivers to do serious damage. So he's in Carolina now.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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