East Rutherford, NJ (CBS) — Since the news went viral on Tuesday about Chip Kelly being fired, the former Eagles’ coach was cast in a number of different shades from uncommunicative to lacking people skills, to lacking football acumen.
“A majority of these guys haven’t experienced a situation where a coach was fired during the season,” said Eagles’ cerebral safety Walter Thurmond, who made the play of the game when he returned an Eli Manning interception 83 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles’ 35-30 win over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. “A lot of guys aren’t going to be here next year, even some of the guys that have guaranteed money. Everyone is on chopping block at the end of the day. I’ve been in a situation like this my rookie with Pete Carroll in Seattle. He came in and got rid of half the guys during training camp.
“He brought in his guys and the people that fit his scheme. There’s definitely talent on this team. We run a 3-4. The next guy that comes in might run a 4-3. You have some guys that might be able to transition to that scheme. I think coach (Pat) Shurmur and the other coaches did a great job preparing us mentally this week to play for one another. They got us focused and ready for this game. We had to play for one another that was the biggest thing.”
Kelly went from a savior to a false messiah within months. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. There were some Kelly detractors in the Eagles’ locker room. But there were many that did like him.
“Chip saw something in me and I’m grateful for the chance, for him allowing me to bring back my career with the injuries I had and staying healthy for a whole season at a new position,” Thurmond said. “He allowed me to thrive. It’s with every situation. You’re going to deal with some guys who like the head coach and some guys who don’t like the head coach. I don’t think it was Chip’s inability to be able to coach. He’s over .500 in three seasons in the NFL. This was a case of the owner wanting a different direction for this team.
“Personally, I enjoyed Chip. I thought Chip was a great coach. He said hello to me in the halls (of the NovaCare Complex) and times he would walk past and not say anything. That’s just human nature. You can’t be too sensitive. Maybe he had something on his mind. I walked past people in the halls and not said anything, either. People take things out of context where they think things may be directly aimed at them. There is talent on this team. I’m going to free agency after this year, and I would love to come back here. But I also understand the needs that have to be addressed on this team and they have only so much money.”
Sam Bradford, Fletcher Cox and the two guard spots are immediate priorities that the Eagles have to meet.
“I want to talk to the Eagles, but there is a lot of money out there that has to be addressed before myself,” Thurmond said. “I understand that. I would love to be here. There is a great team in this locker room. We just weren’t able to get out of our own way. It’s why we lost games. There is a great football team in this locker room. Hopefully, whoever is the next coach of this team is able to get the right pieces together and has the right scheme where guys can flourish. I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnaround is fast and they make the playoffs in this conference next year.”
Still, there were some veiled knocks at Kelly, especially from DeMarco Murray, whose 54-yard, first-quarter TD run was his longest this season and season-longest of his career.
When asked how many times that crease was open this year, Murray said, “A few times, but I think this is the most we’ve worked on it throughout the course of the week, so everyone had a good feel for it. The offensive line did a great job blocking and I was able to get used to it. I’ve always talked to Sherm (Pat Shurmur, Eagles’ offensive coordinator) and we’ve had a good relationship about certain run plays. We just worked (on the 54-yard scoring play). We ran inside zone, outside zone. When you work on plays during the week, you get reps. That’s what makes us more comfortable on Sundays.”