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A few days after Andy Reid was fired, he was asked where the Eagles went wrong over the past few years.
For a guy who rarely said anything revealing, his answer was clear and concise. And very revealing.
“I would tell you the most important thing is that everybody’s got to be pulling in the same direction,” he said. “We’re all in it together, all pulling the same way.
“When that gets out of whack, bad things happen. That’s how this league works. If you get a little bit out of whack, you’re not going to be successful.”
The biggest takeaway from the Eagles’ draft this past weekend is that everybody – for the first time in a long time – was pulling in the same direction.
After three days and 26 hours in the NovaCare Complex, half a dozen interviews with Chip Kelly and two with Howie Roseman, you just get an overwhelming sense that for the first time since the whole Joe Banner – Andy Reid – Howie Roseman relationship fractured, the Eagles got it right.
The process worked. This was the Eagles’ first draft without Banner or Reid since 1993, and it was a model of simplicity and elegance.
You never know with the draft. You don’t know till two years later. Heck, I thought Buddy Ryan was crazy to draft Keith Jackson with the 16th pick in 1988, and I thought Reggie Brown was going to be a stud. You just don’t know.
But it seems like the Eagles simply drafted the best players. No crazy trades. No small-school studs. No guys projecting to a new position.
Just a bunch of football players who have a chance to be pretty good.
It’s all about Chip and Howie now. And so far, so good. It’s impossible not to be impressed with their synergy.
Pulling in the same direction and all that.
Kind of the way things were here from 2000 through 2008. Back when the Eagles were good.
“I was really fortunate to be with Coach Reid for so long and have that relationship with him,” Roseman said late Saturday night. “You always wonder how it's going to be with the next guy, and really just from Day 1 it's been easy. It's flowed easy. Our vision, our priorities have been in line.
“Part of that's the interview process and going through the interview process and sitting down with someone and talking about the team and building the team – that's part of the reason it's been so easy. Because when we sat down that first time and talked about it, we were on the same page. … It’s been really good.”
It really is a new day. This was Kelly’s first NFL draft, Tom Gamble’s first draft since joining the Eagles just two months ago and Roseman’s first draft since Banner left the organization.
Owner Jeff Lurie spoke in January about streamlining the process, and that’s exactly how it felt. They didn’t overthink anything. They didn’t play games. They didn’t try to hit any grand slams with the bases empty.
They just tried to find some good football players.
Now, it’s not like Kelly and Roseman agreed on everything during this whole process. They didn’t. When you’re evaluating 400 college football players and deciding who best fits your vision for the franchise, you’re going to disagree.
It’s how you resolve those disagreements that determines how good your draft is and ultimately how good your football team is going to be.
“Debate's OK,” Roseman said. “Disagreement's OK. And then it's how you settle those debates and disagreements.
“If it's about a player, an evaluation of a player, it's easy to put on the tape and see what you're seeing and see why you're seeing it differently and then come to a conclusion. No one is always going to agree on everything – you know that, you're married – but you get to the process, and it was really productive.”
Until Thursday night, Kelly had never spent a day involved in an NFL draft.
For things to go as seamlessly as they did the past few days speaks volumes about Kelly, about Roseman and – most importantly – about their working relationship.
“There were a lot of discussions and I think that’s healthy,” Kelly said. “If you have a bunch of people who agree about things every single day, I don’t think that’s the right way to go about things.
“It’s important to get different viewpoints of how things are and how things work. But then as a group, you have to come together and make a decision.”
Two years without a winning record. Four years without a playoff win. Half a century and counting without a championship.
It was past time for a change. You try not to get too excited, but maybe the Eagles are finally doing things the right way.
“It was a really great draft process,” Roseman said. “Now we’ve got to go play some games.”