“I'm a football coach. I'm not a
general manager. I'm not a salary cap guy. I coach football. I need people that
can go out there and say, 'Hey, this is what you want.' It's going to be a
collaboration. I have no delusions of saying I want all these different titles.
I just want to coach football.”
And with those words spoken by newly installed head coach
Chip Kelly, the hierarchy of the Philadelphia Eagles became crystal clear for
perhaps the first time in over a decade, before executive vice president of
football operations was added to Andy Reid’s title.
Just who was pulling the levers has always been of great
interest to fans. You had Reid, who coached of course, but always claimed to
have final say over all player personnel matters. Until recently there was Joe
Banner, Reid’s boss and keeper of the checkbook, which would seem to denote the
true ultimate decision maker. And there was always a general manager that
mainly served to scout and “run the draft” as it was often put, which is
strange terminology because that last part sounds like a player personnel
matter – anyway, we all know that’s been Howie Roseman for the past three
There was a time when everybody appeared to be working in
concert, but those alliances disintegrated. The day Reid was fired, owner
Jeffrey Lurie absolved Roseman of the largely inadequate draft classes of 2010
and ’11, so obviously there was some change in final say – at least during the
month of April. And Banner departed amid the nonsensical narrative that he lost
a power struggle to Andy.
I describe it as nonsensical because how would Lurie’s
right-hand man of close to 20 years lose a power struggle to a head coach that was
on the brink of getting fired? It didn’t make any sense then, and it makes even
less sense now that both of them are gone. Yet given the fact that Banner can’t
pass on a single opportunity to hurl criticisms of the Eagles’ organization
while hiding behind the pseudonyms of “a league source” or “league executive,”
one can venture a guess that his exit was not on the most pleasant of terms.
It seems if anybody pushed Banner out the door, it was Roseman,
because he is suddenly a general manager cloaked in immense power. Chip doesn’t
have final say. Don Smolenski, the man who assumed Banner’s role as team
president, isn’t even involved in football operations, while Lurie more or less
seems content to rely on people who know better, outside of choosing the head
We are left to presume that Roseman has the checkbook.
Roseman runs the draft. Roseman signs the free agents. Roseman makes the cuts. Roseman
hands out the extensions. Roseman negotiates the deals. Roseman trades. Roseman
presides over practically any roster decision big or small.
Not bad for a kid who started as an “accountant,” as some
Why am I telling this long-winded tale? Well for one thing, you
might as well get used to the lay of the land for the immediate future, because
Howie isn’t going anywhere for awhile. Roseman has been a part of the Eagles’
organization since 2000. He outlasted Banner, he outlasted Reid, he outlasted
former GM Tom Heckert, he outlasted Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb, and where
every last one of them has been discarded and replaced, Roseman keeps on
climbing the ladder. In other words, you can stop asking me when he will get
Here is the larger point though. I don’t know how to judge Roseman,
because I’m not entirely sure what he did to reach this level. Allegedly he has
one draft to his name, and it’s too early to call it, but 2012’s class doesn’t
look too shabby so far. Most of his wheeling and dealing has sent capable
players such as Asante Samuel and Winston Justice (barely capable in this case,
but I digress) packing in exchange for peanuts, but shipping Kevin Kolb to
Arizona and prying DeMeco Ryans away from Houston look like steals. And not one
of the big-money contracts the Eagles have handed out in recent years will
hamstring the franchise, even if some of the choices look poor in retrospect.
If I absolutely had to give Roseman a grade, I would give
him an incomplete – not because his moves merit that, mostly because I can’t
tell for which moves he was actually in charge. Thankfully someone else can.
“I keep voluminous notes on talent
evaluation on not just who we draft, but who is valued in each draft by each
person that is in the organization that’s working here. I came to the
conclusion that the person that was providing by far the best talent evaluation
in the building was Howie Roseman.”
That’s Lurie a few weeks ago, and he’s either delirious, or
Howie is doing a good job. It may be hard to believe, because he’s the youngest
GM in the NFL at only 37 years old, and has no “football background” – as if
working for the Eagles for over a decade, much of that at the foot of Banner no
less, was completely worthless experience.
Look around. There is no more Banner or Reid. This
organization has been in the process of systematically dissolving every remaining
link to the last great period in franchise history for the past four years,
except Roseman. There must be some reason for that, no?
I can’t pretend to be able to explain why that is. I can
only tell you Howie Roseman is definitely the captain of this ship from this
point on, and he should be evaluated not based on the past few seasons for
which we haven’t a clue as to his level of involvement, but instead for whatever
he does going forward.
That is now that we finally know where everything stands.
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