Darius Slay has been with the Eagles for just a few months and he’s been in the NovaCare Complex for just a couple weeks.
But he can already feel it’s different.
He can already feel the culture that Doug Pederson and his staff have been committed to creating in Philadelphia since Pederson arrived in 2016.
What I love about this team, man, is you can see that everybody is themselves,” Slay said on Monday afternoon.
“They’re not in a shell, can’t do this, can’t do that. It’s basically kinda feeling like you’re being treated like grown men. I like that aspect of that. It’s just the grown man treatment and the ability to be yourself and not be something that you’re not. They let you do that here and that’s why I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I think it’s just going to be the game will be fun again.
They treat their players like grown men.
That comment either intentionally or unintentionally throws some shade at a few different coaches.
The most obvious is Lions head coach Matt Patricia, a Bill Belichick disciple, who took over as the Lions head coach in 2018. In a March interview with the Detroit News, Slay detailed his fractured relationship with Patricia, citing one specific example where he claims Patricia attempted to embarrass and belittle him in front of the whole team.
So that clearly doesn’t seem like treating players like grown men.
Patricia learned under the NFL’s resident curmudgeon Bill Belichick, but unlike Belichick’s disciples, many of his players still seem to like him. Maybe it’s all the winning. If it’s not fun but you’re winning, it can become fun. And Belichick seems to have an ability to be a hard-nosed coach but a master of showing emotion at the right time and getting the most from his players.
While Chip Kelly didn’t come from the Belichick Tree, he tried to bring his college approach to the NFL and it didn’t work. Even if Slay wasn’t talking about Chip directly, there are a few Eagles left in the locker room who remember the culture Chip created at the NovaCare Complex, the type of culture Jeff Lurie wanted to eradicate after Chip was fired.
In the four years since, Pederson has shown off his “emotional intelligence” and has become Dad Pederson, the ultimate players coach. Slay and other free agents who join the team generally seem to enjoy that.
They can be themselves.
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