|A Local Plague Like No Other|
Underline that. Star it. Bold it and put it in a bigger font. No one in Philadelphia cares about college sports in January -- it's never been a college football town, the local basketball teams all splinter off the attention and it's January anyway. The Sixers are in Year 2 of the mostly unwatchable teardown, and unless you want to say you were on the 2020 bandwagon in 2015, there's no urgency to check out the latest 40-point loss. The Flyers have been on a goat ride to nowhere for decades, and hockey has always been, and will always be, a niche play. The Phillies haven't mattered for years.
It's the fifth largest media market in America. It's filled with guys who weren't good enough to make it in New York or a national network, and have a varying degree of bitterness about that, mostly related to how long they have been in town. And it's a one-team town, and that team lost 3 in a row to miss the playoffs.
It doesn't matter that they won 10 games again, this time with half of the season in the hands of QB2. It doesn't matter that they did this against a harder schedule, and with a lot less luck in turnovers. It doesn't matter that the special teams were drastically better, that they broke in promising young talent at WR3 and TE, and that many of the free agents worked out just fine.
All that matters is that they aren't playing football, and the media is looking for ANYTHING -- repeat, ANYTHING -- that will fill air and pixels.
Into that, the curious case of Tom Gamble.
Gamble was a personnel guy that came in with head coach Chip Kelly, who was praised by Kelly in a presser on Monday. Kelly called him a great football guy, whereas he called GM Howie Roseman a great numbers and cap guy.
The Eagles then fired Gamble the next day.
Which is leading everyone in the area to think that Kelly, presumably frothing at the mouth at Gamble's dismissal and weak from pining for the halcyon days of yore when he was in college and hanging half a hundred on any defense that was in front of him, might just bail from the situation, rather than undergo Year 3 with Roseman. (This, of course, assumes that Roseman sticks around, given that there has been word that he was sniffing around the Jets GM job.)
Now, a few points about this.
1) Don't forget the role of the media on this. The only way this wins for them is if it continues to be a story. If Kelly pretty much shrugs and goes back to work, that kills them.
2) We have no idea if Gamble did anything to warrant a firing, other than get some praise. Maybe he walked into Roseman's offense with that endorsement in his pocket and asked for a raise, or that Kelly knew things weren't going his way early and wanted to do him a solid on his way out the door. Remember, Kelly said fine things about DeSean Jackson for every step of that process, too.
3) No one really knows what, if anything, Gamble brought to the Eagles. It's not like free agent signings and draft selections come with a byline.
So, what has happened here, really? A franchise ran off a front office guy -- not the GM, not the coach -- from a team that underperformed against possibly overblown expectations.
What hasn't happened?
Well, the defensive coordinator that kept letting the opposition line up WR1 against whoever they wanted?
He's still here. And, like the head coach, very likely to be back next fall.
The QB2 with the inability to avoid back-breaking turnovers?
Still on the roster, albeit as a free agent. Assuming no one throws a QB1 job and money at him, probably returns in 2015.
The CB2 who fell apart in the final month of the season to the extent that no male child in the region will be named Bradley for the next 3 to 5 years?
Not cut, not sent to the practice squad, not tarred and feathered in the streets. Wouldn't be shocked if he was here in the fall, though hopefully fighting for a nickel back job, rather than starting.
If this is chaos, it's remarkably subdued.
If this is a purge, we've all been cheated out of an awful lot of blood.
And if there are other shoes that are ready to drop, you can be sure they will...
Only after every other shoe in Christendom, or the Delaware Valley, has a microphone shoved in its face and asked if Howie is such a Howie and if Chip and Howie never talk and why doesn't Jeffy fix everything.
Because the worst local sports media in America lives here.
And they've got absolutely nothing else to occupy their time.