Roseman: Band-Aids yield 10-6, and that’s not good enough

Roseman: Band-Aids yield 10-6, and that’s not good enough

When you lumber through eight years without a playoff win and three years without even so much as a playoff appearance, there's no shortage of reasons.

And Howie Roseman put a lot of the blame for the Eagles’ nearly decade-long run without a single postseason victory squarely on his own shoulders Wednesday, saying the team’s drafting “hasn’t been good enough” and conceding the Eagles have been guilty of pursuing mediocrity over the years.

Roseman is beginning his second year as executive vice president of football operations after a year out of power while Chip Kelly ran personnel operations. From 2010 through 2014, Roseman was the Eagles’ general manager.

The Eagles haven't won a playoff game during Roseman's tenure running the team.

“I think you go back and you look at 2008, when we were in the (NFC) Championship Game and then 2009 and 2010, 10-6 isn’t good enough to get home-field advantage, to compete for a championship,” he said.

“It’s a huge edge to have that bye, so we’ve got to build the team with that in mind. I think some of the things we’ve done over the past few years have been to get to 10-6 and that’s not good enough.”

From 2001 through 2004, the Eagles reached four straight NFC Championship Games, and those teams won 11, 12, 12, 13 games. Three of them earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field throughout. In 2001 and 2008, they reached the NFC Championship Game via the wild-card route.

The Eagles lost all those NFC title games other than 2004, but six of the 15 postseason wins the Eagles have recorded since 1960 came during their three consecutive years as a No. 1 seed.

So Roseman’s message is that you have to build for greatness, not just to get into the tournament.

“When you look at it, there are certain things that it’s almost impossible to win a championship without,” Roseman said. “And I think when I look back at some of the mistakes I made, they were about just trying to get into the playoffs and believing that once you get into the playoffs maybe you have a chance every year because it’s a shorter field and you can just get hot.

“But really when you look at the Super Bowl championships, over the last decade, really since the Super Bowl was in effect, they all have a franchise quarterback.”

That’s why after years of instability at quarterback — Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford — the priority last offseason became identifying and acquiring a quarterback of the future.

So Roseman wheeled and dealed, moved up to the No. 2 pick, and selected Carson Wentz, who had an auspicious rookie year.

Now the challenge is surrounding him with 52 other pieces of a potential championship run.

“Your easiest way to be a perennial contender is with (a franchise quarterback),” Roseman said. “And to have a guy like Carson makes it feel like you’re doing the right thing when you don’t do a lot of band-aids.”

Roseman used the phrase band-aids a few times during his 30-minute State of the Franchise address Wednesday in the NovaCare Complex auditorium.

Band-aids is essentially his phrase for free agents.

The Eagles haven’t drafted consistently well since the 2002 draft delivered Lito Sheppard, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown and Michael Lewis.

So they’ve had to fill needs with free agents with mixed results. Which really helps explain a mediocre 100-91 record since 2007 with postseason success just once in the last 10 years.

Free agents equals mediocrity. Drafting well equals potential success. It’s about time the Eagles recognize it. Now they have to live by it.

“When you look at 10-6 teams, you can put band-aids on some things,” Roseman said. “I think you look at the cornerback position and what we’ve done at the cornerback position is put band-aids on things.”

Such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin.

To name a few.

You can’t win that way.

Surround Wentz with elite young players over the next few years and you'll have a chance.

The Eagles haven’t nailed a draft since Roseman initially became GM in 2010, although 2013 has promise. But years of missing on players like Marcus Smith, Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Josh Huff in the first three rounds has caught up with the franchise.

Roseman was blunt about the need for drafting to improve under the new coalition of Roseman, vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas and assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl (see story).

“No question,” he said. “And again it’s one of the things where you look back and where our draft board was in January, and when we made some decisions, we compromised on guys as opposed to just sticking to the board and doing the right thing — not based on a need this year but based on who’s the best player to be part of the core going forward.

“And I sit here very confident that will not happen again.”

Roseman is also confident that the most difficult piece of the puzzle is already in place in Wentz, who threw for 3,782 yards this year despite a paucity of talent around him.

“It’s funny, because I don’t notice a lot of the articles that are around the building that are hung up, but last week I noticed an article (on the wall) that was from 2003 and talked about how the Eagles’ future was bright because they had a 26-year-old quarterback,” Roseman said.

“We have a 24-year-old quarterback. We have to do the right things so that when (he’s) taking off, the team is ready to take off with him.”

Head coach Doug Pederson raised some eyebrows this past week when he spoke of how close the Eagles are to being an elite team because they lost a bunch of close games on the way to a 7-9 record.

“We're very close,” Pederson said. “Even though the win-loss and everything is not in our favor, I think we lost six games this year by a touchdown or less, and we've just got to learn to finish those games.

“I think we're extremely close, extremely close to being a team that can compete each year for not only the NFC East but for the postseason.”

Roseman has a more realistic, more honest assessment of where the Eagles are in the big picture.

He appreciates Pederson’s enthusiasm and confidence but as the guy who has final say over personnel, he is soberly aware of how much work there still is to do.

“When you look at how hard the team is playing for him and how many close games we were in, I love that perspective from our coaching staff and our players,” Roseman said.

“We have a little different role here in the front office. There’s always going to be things that we look at and try to get better (at).

“We’re trying to compete with the best teams in the National Football League, and we’re certainly not there right now as we stand. … We have a lot of work to do here. But I feel a lot better than where we stood last year at this time.”

After getting letter from Eagles, Sidney Jones had 'feeling it would be Philly'

After getting letter from Eagles, Sidney Jones had 'feeling it would be Philly'

Sidney Jones had a feeling he would become an Eagle this weekend. He read it in a letter.  
 
The Washington corner was once thought to be a first-round pick; the Eagles were even considering him with their 14th pick (see story).
 
But at his school's pro day March 11, Jones suffered a devastating Achilles tear that dropped him out of the first round and right to the Eagles in the second round. They took him with the 43rd pick Friday night.

Jones thought there was a good chance he'd land in Philly because of a handwritten letter he received after his injury from Eagles senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch, who was in attendance at the pro day when Jones suffered the injury on one of the last drills.
 
"I thought it was pretty awesome," Jones said about the letter on a conference call with Philly reporters less than an hour after the pick. "Just from there, I knew they still had interest. … I had a feeling deep down. My agents were telling me stuff and I just had a feeling it would be Philly."
 
Jones, 20, said he received a few text messages from other teams, "but nothing like a handwritten letter."
 
Howie Roseman said the Eagles expect Jones to make a full recovery, but wouldn't give a timeline for his recovery.
 
"It's just a roadblock," Jones said. "It's going to be a good story at the end of my career. I'll look back at it as a positive. That's just how I'm viewing everything."
 
The Eagles are unsure if Jones will be able to play this season and despite tweeting that doctors told him he'd be ready for the 2017 season, Jones on Friday night said his plan lines up with that of the organization.
 
Even though he'd obviously like to play this season, he won't put himself in a situation that could lead to further injury.
 
"When do I expect to be back?" Jones said. "The plan is to not rush back at all. We're going to take it slowly … we're not going to rush anything. Of course, I would like to play as soon as possible, but there's no rushing."
 
Jones said it was an indescribable feeling when he got a call on his cell phone from a Philadelphia area code. As the Eagles' coaching staff passed around the phone at the NovaCare Complex, Jones talked to all of them as tears welled up in his eyes.
 
Throughout the entire process, Jones has been incredibly positive, at least in public. He credited his family for being his support system.
 
On Friday night, he chose to look at the positives: he still got drafted and he's still going to a team that really wants him.
 
After the injury, did he ever doubt his future?
 
"I don’t think there was a moment of doubt at all," Jones said. "I’m being honest with that. I’ve seen players come back from injury. … I’ve never had surgery, so this is like my first big injury. So, just looking forward to battling this and getting back and getting on the field."

Eagles draft CB Sidney Jones with 2nd-round pick (43rd overall)

Eagles draft CB Sidney Jones with 2nd-round pick (43rd overall)

Eagles Draft Tracker

The way the Eagles look at it, they've selected two of their 14 favorite players despite having just one first-round pick.

The Eagles selected promising but injured Washington cornerback Sidney Jones with the 43rd pick in the draft Friday evening.

"When we started this process, he was one of the guys we were talking about with the 14th pick in the draft," Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said.

"Great character, great player. The injury was a factor here, but we spent a lot of time with our doctors … talking about this situation. For us, it's about what we believe this kid brings to our football team moving forward.

"To get two of our top 14 players in the whole draft? We thought it was a really good opportunity for our football team. … He's a difference maker at cornerback. That's something we've been looking for."
  
Jones, originally projected as a first-round pick, dropped out of the first round when he tore an Achilles tendon during his pro-day workout in mid-March.
 
Jones, who stands 6-foot, 180 pounds, underwent surgery and has said he expects to be healthy and ready to play at some point during the 2017 season.

"We anticipate a full recovery," Roseman said. "We don't know the timetable, but we believe he can be an impact player for us when we do get him on the field."
 
Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss, 145 tackles in 40 career games.

He was the third member of Washington’s secondary to be selected in Friday’s second round. Corner Kevin King went No. 33 overall to the Packers and safety Budda Baker was the No. 36 pick overall to the Cards.

"The steal of the draft," King told CSN's John Clark of Jones. "He could've been a top 10 pick."
 
Eagles senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch was at Jones' pro day when he got hurt and immediately called Roseman and let him know that not only had Jones gotten injured but he had a tremendous workout before the injury.
 
Roseman said the Eagles' medical team studied numerous players from football and other sports who suffered similar injuries to measure their recovery timetable and determine what Jones' chances of a full recovery were.
 
"Our doctors and training staff not only looked at corners, but we reached out to teams in other sports," he said. "That gave us a lot of confidence here.
 
"There's no insurance for this, but we feel really confident that with our medical team when he gets here he's going to be able to be the exact same player he was before the injury."
 
When will we see Jones on the field?
 
"There'll be no rushing back from this," Roseman said. "We'll do whatever's in the best interest of getting Sidney Jones 100 percent. Whatever the timetable is. We'll defer to the doctors. That will not be our decision."
 
Jones is only the second cornerback the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds in the last six years. They drafted Eric Rowe in the second round in 2015 but traded him to the Patriots, where he became a starter last year and won a Super Bowl ring.
 
Before Rowe, the last time the Eagles spent a pick in the first two rounds on a cornerback was 2002, when they took Lito Sheppard in the first round.
 
The Eagles cut ties with both of their starting cornerbacks from last year, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. They signed journeyman Patrick Robinson this offseason and return Jalen Mills, who was their third corner last year.
 
The Eagles ranked second-to-last in the NFL last year allowing 27 pass plays of 30 yards or more.
 
"We just got a first-round talented corner and he's somebody that as Howie alluded to we're not going to rush," head coach Doug Pederson said. "(We're going to) make sure he's 100 percent before we put him out on that football field. This kid is dynamic. He's extremely special on the field."
 
The Eagles have addressed the defense in each of the first two rounds, taking defensive end Derek Barnett at No. 14 overall and Jones in the second round.
 
This is the first time since 2012 the Eagles have gone defense with their first two picks. They took Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks in the first two rounds.
 
Jones is the first University of Washington player the Eagles have drafted since defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim in the third round in 2010 and the first they've taken in the first two rounds since center Ray Mansfield in the second round in 1963.
 
Washington had a home game the day before the Eagles played the Seahawks in Seattle this past fall, and Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, in town for the Eagles-Seahawks game, saw Jones in person that day.
 
"They played against Arizona State, and the entire secondary played well," Douglas said.
 
"The thing that jumps out most about Sidney is his length, his feet. Very smooth mover, can easily flip his hips, can carry guys down the field.
 
"He's very instinctive, very route-aware. He has a really good gauge on what the receivers are going to do on the top of their routes. I think he has ideal ball skills."