Howie Roseman takes shots at Chip Kelly and the mess he left

Howie Roseman takes shots at Chip Kelly and the mess he left

Everybody else is allowed to rip Chip Kelly for the long-term damage he did to the Eagles’ roster.

Why not Howie Roseman too?

Roseman took a few thinly-veiled shots at Kelly during his press briefing on Wednesday morning at the NovaCare Complex:

• His reference to the team’s lack of a second-round pick in last year’s draft — Kelly shipped it to the Rams in 2015 along with Nick Foles;

• Without prompting, he connected the Eagles' lack of offensive firepower this past year to Kelly's decisions to release DeSean Jackson, trade LeSean McCoy and fail to re-sign Jeremy Maclin;

• Roseman spoke several times about the team’s lack of salary cap space going into this offseason, which is at least in part a product of Kelly’s one year running the personnel department;

• And he criticized Kelly’s handling of the quarterback position, which left the Eagles without any quarterbacks under contract following last year.

Asked specifically how difficult it’s been for him to undo some of Kelly’s ill-advised moves, here’s how Roseman responded:

“You know, I think you're just dealing with the reality of the situation. I could say sitting up here last year, it was challenging. It was a challenging situation and it starts with the quarterback position. We didn't have a starting quarterback under contract. [Sam Bradford] was a free agent. We were picking 13th with no two (second-round pick).

“And we sat down and we said if we can come out of this offseason, and sit here next season at this time and feel like we had a permanent answer at that position, we're going in the right direction.”

Howie declined to speak specifically about Maclin, Jackson and McCoy, since all are currently under contract with other teams and that could be construed as tampering.

But he certainly indirectly discussed them.

From 2008 through 2014, the seven-year span in which at least one of Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were here, the Eagles led the NFL with 77 plays of 20 yards or more per year — 41 more than the second-place Saints.

This year, they had 46 — third-fewest in the NFL and just two more than the last-place Texans and Broncos.

Of course, it was Kelly that drafted Nelson Agholor, who became the poster boy for Eagles wide receiving ineptitude.

It’s also important to note that Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were all drafted here before Roseman became general manager in 2010.

“It seems like a long time ago we were leading the National Football League in 20-[yard]-plus plays, and I don't have a DeLorean time machine to go back in time and get some of those guys back,” Roseman said.

“We have a young group. We have a young room. They need to continue to grow, and it's one of the things, among others, that we need to look at.”

After the 2014 season, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie exiled Roseman and gave Kelly full control of personnel. A year later, while firing Kelly, he restored Roseman to power and gave him the title vice president of football operations.

Roseman’s digs at Kelly were not very subtle. Roseman has always prided himself on being a salary cap guru, but Kelly’s one year as general manager left the Eagles with very little cap room today.

“It’s a unique situation for us as an organization,” Roseman said. “It’s unusual certainly since I’ve been here to have a more challenging situation.”

And this more general comment about the state that Kelly left the franchise in: “We didn't have the same amount of resources that we are used to. We didn't have a second-round pick. We had a lot of guys becoming free agents over a two-year period of time.”

He also gloated about how he recognized the Eagles’ need to find a franchise quarterback after Kelly traded Nick Foles and left the most important position on the roster essentially vacant.

“I was very vocal internally about the need to have a long-term answer at that position,” Roseman said (see story). “And felt like it was the most important thing we could possibly do.”

Roseman’s digs are interesting and make for good offseason chatter. But all that really matters is that he gets the Eagles back on track in Year 2 of his return to power.

Or else the next general manager will be the one at a press conference a year from now taking thinly-veiled shots at Roseman.

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.