Zach Berman: ‘Surprise They Traded For Alonso’

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, arguably the most explosive player in the NFL, has been dealt to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

What’s the reaction in the City of Brotherly Love?

“It was not a shock that McCoy was on the market or (trying) to be dealt or that something could happen with him considering the financial obligation that he had next season,” Philadelphia Inquirer Eagles reporter Zach Berman said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But I think the fact that it happened today – and for Kiko Alonso – was definitely a surprise. If McCoy was going to be traded, I think the thought was it was going to be for picks – and potentially as a way to try to move up to get (Marcus) Mariota. But to do it at this juncture for a player and getting no picks back, that’s what really stands out about the deal.”

The Eagles finished 15th against the run and 31st against the pass last season. Does adding Alonso at least fill a need?

“Yes and no,” Berman said. “It fills a need in the sense that DeMeco Ryans is coming back from a second ruptured Achilles tendon, so it’s a tough injury to return from. But DeMeco, who’s really one of the most respected players on the team and in the league, was confident he was going to be able to return from it. You already have Mychal Kendricks. You have DeMeco Ryans. They signed Brad Jones the other day. That being said, Kiko Alonso played for Chip Kelly at Oregon. He’s someone who Chip has spoke very highly of in the past, and that’s obviously a factor in the deal.”

Looking beyond the depth chart, there are rumors that McCoy wasn’t thrilled with Kelly’s coaching policies, which includes a full practice on Saturdays. Is that disgruntlement part of the reason McCoy was not welcomed back?

“Well, I wouldn’t phrase it in terms of him not being welcomed back,” Berman said. “I think part of this had to do with his salary, but there is a degree of validity to that obviously. It was no secret, especially early on in Chip’s tenure, that it was a major adjustment for LeSean McCoy. He’s certainly – I don’t want to say similar to DeSean Jackson because there’s connotation with that – but he’s a superstar in this league, and there are few of those in Philadelphia under Chip.

“(McCoy is) someone who was honest,” Berman continued. “He was someone who would speak his mind, and he was someone who had a lot of success doing it a different way than the way Chip asked for it. When you’re an Eagle under Chip Kelly, there’s a lot required of you. I would say it’s different than in 31 other NFL cities. Every team has their own unique way of doing it, but I think in Philadelphia – with the way Chip Kelly structures the week, with the way he structures his practices, what he demands of his players from a sports-science perspective – it’s really different from 31 other NFL coaches.

“So I think that with LeSean, there was a major adjustment when Chip became coach and there was kind of a transition process that went on even through the season.”

McCoy, it is worth noting, wasn’t the only Eagle frustrated by Kelly’s policies. Cornerback Cary Williams complained last September that Kelly was overworking the team.

Williams was released Tuesday.

“There were other guys in there who feel that way,” Berman said. “Now, there are many guys who say they’ve never felt better in their NFL career because of what Chip’s doing.”

What exactly does he do, you ask? There are two main differences: One, he runs a full practice the day before games (as opposed to a walk-through), and two, the Eagles are off every Tuesday (as opposed to Monday, which is the standard).

“They really have one extra day of practice than what you see elsewhere in the NFL, and the day before a game, they’re going harder than the other teams in the league,” Berman explained. “So for guys who are veterans who have had success with a different method, it was really a shock to the system.”

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