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Former Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson Says Chip Kelly Can’t Treat Professional Players Like College Kids

Jimmy Johnson was a guest on Mike and Mike on Friday morning, and was interviewed by Dan Le Batard and Stugotz who filled in for Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. He was asked about Chip Kelly’s approach to coaching in the NFL vs. coaching in college, and Johnson had some interesting things to say. Audio below, courtesy of ESPN Radio, followed by a transcription.

“He’s gotten rid of some high profile players who are talented and they’ve been successful in other places. Plus, some highly beloved players like LeSean McCoy. That’s going to cause a problem. The only way he’s going to be able to overcome that is winning. Not just winning 10 games, but winning big. The one thing he’s finding out is you can’t treat professional players the way you treat college players. Chip Kelly will adjust. He’s a very smart guy. And again, he’s got to win big. This is a crucial year for him. He has a bunch of players who have been injured in the past. If those players don’t produce, it’s going to be a problem.”

“Dan, I think that you can still have control. I think you can still be the guy that makes the decisions, but I think that you’ve got to treat these players differently. Charles Haley, who’s going into the Hall of Fame this weekend, I had to deal with him one-on-one in my office. Uh, you know, he had problems with me really being onto him out in front of the other players. If I hollered and screamed  at Emmitt Smith, Emmitt would go into a shell. Yet, I could cuss Michael Irvin like a sailor and he would respond.

“The bottom line is you have to treat each player differently. You can’t treat them all the same.”

Here’s why I don’t see it being as big a deal as others do: Nobody Chip inherited helped the Eagles win a playoff game since 2009. For the people who don’t process math as quickly as others, that makes six years in a row the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game, and have only made the playoffs twice in those years. So why don’t we talk about that?

Probably because it’s not sexy at all. Media people in general don’t care because the allure of Chip being possibly racist or treating professional players like kids has a better storyline flow to it. It makes people decide between whether they like Chip or they don’t. The fact is Chip did get rid of very good players, but as good as those players were, they didn’t help the team get to the goal of winning a Super Bowl, much less a playoff game.

As for treating professional players like college kids, there’s a big number of Eagles players who are behind Chip – some that even came from the Andy Reid era. The players Chip got rid of had one thing in common – a me-first attitude. As for Brandon Boykin, we don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but it’s clear he wasn’t in Chip’s plans for whatever reason. But I really don’t see what’s wrong with coming into the NFL and hammering home the point that it’s a team game and not an individual game.

Guys like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and even Evan Mathis proved that if you have a me-first attitude, Chip doesn’t want you. You could have all the talent in the world and be a team-first guy, and Chip would keep you. I’m not sure why that’s so hard to understand. Chip’s job is to make the players believe in his philosophy, not be a babysitter. If the players don’t hop on the bandwagon, then so be it.

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