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INDIANAPOLIS -- From the outside, it looks like the Eagles face a monumental rebuilding project.
Not only do they have to rebuild one of the worst defenses in franchise history and stock the offense with players suited to Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense, the Eagles also need to change the losing culture that has permeated the locker room for a couple years now.
It’s not a tweak, it’s an overhaul.
So conventional wisdom says Chip Kelly’s team will take its lumps in 2013 and then maybe we'll all see some results in 2014.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman doesn’t believe in all that.
Roseman said the idea of a transition year is foreign to him and Kelly and said nobody in the NovaCare Complex is approaching 2013 as a necessary losing season along the way to a return to competitiveness.
They want to win over the long-term, but they also want to win now.
“We don’t sit here for one second and say, ‘Let’s throw away a year,’” Roseman said. “That’s crazy.”
The Eagles haven’t had a winning season since 2010, going 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 last year. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2008, haven’t won an NFL Championship since 1960.
These days, NFL teams can turn things around in a hurry. One of Roseman’s closest friends, Ryan Grigson, left the Eagles after the 2010 season to become general manager of the 2-14 Colts. After an 11-5 playoff season, Grigson was named NFL Executive of the Year.
The Redskins won the NFC East this past season after a five-win last-place season.
Obviously, the Colts had Andrew Luck and the Redskins Robert Griffin III.
But the Vikings went from 3-13 to 10-6 and in the playoffs without an elite quarterback. And this is 10 consecutive years now that at least one team has gone from last place to first place, a list that includes the 2006 Eagles.
So it can be done.
But can it be done with a new coach, a new system, a new everything?
Roseman said that’s the goal.
“We want to win. Incredibly badly,” he said. “It’s no fun to lose. That’s why we’re in this. We’re competitive people. I mean, it kills to lose. There’s no fun in losing.
“We’re competing in everything. We’re challenging each other in every aspect. Who gets here first in the morning? How many workouts did you have this week? How many players did you watch?
“That’s the fun of being in this business, the competition aspect of it, and we’re surrounded by highly competitive people in every aspect of life, and for us to sit here and say we’re giving up a year or we don’t want to win, that doesn’t go through our mind at all.
“We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to get better players and get incrementally better at each and every opportunity, but there’s never been a conversation that I’ve been a part of where anybody’s saying, ‘Let’s just not win this year.’”
Roseman, Kelly, new vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble and the rest of the Eagles’ coaches and scouts will all be in Indianapolis the next several days for the NFL Scouting Combine as the franchise takes the first major step in trying to return to respectability.
Roseman said he and Kelly have actually never spoken about how long the rebuilding process will take.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time talking about when,” Roseman said. “Right now, we’re so into the process. And it started with getting the head coach and then the process of filling out the staff, not just the coaching staff but people in the front office, hiring a new trainer. Our video director [retired after] 38 years, so hiring video people.
“So for us, it’s always been for the moment. We’ve never sat down in his office and said, ‘When are we going to win. Are we giving ourselves two years? Three years?’ He has this philosophy that he had at Oregon of winning the day. ‘What are we going to do today to get better,’ and I think if you take this long-term outlook, it gets you off path.
“If you do the right things, if the process is right, if you’re surrounding yourself on and off the field with the right people, eventually the results are going to be there.”
Roseman emphasizes that the goal isn’t to win 10 games in 2013, it’s to build a roster that can win consistently and be in position every year for a deep playoff run that will lead to a Super Bowl or two.
They need to draft better, select free agents better, coach better and return to the model of 2000 through 2008, when the Eagles averaged over 10 wins per season -- most in the NFC -- and reached the playoffs seven out of nine years.
“We’re not going out there to lose,” Roseman said. “Playing basketball, playing golf, whatever you’re doing, you want to win, and that’s how everyone here is built.
“Nobody here is sitting here saying, ‘It’s OK to lose.’ If you said to me that we’re going to have a down year or two and then we’re going to have 10 years of success, would you trade that? Yeah.
“We’re not going into it thinking anything but we’re trying to put the right pieces into place to have long-term success.”