Philadelphia Eagles

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.”

NFL Notes: Jaguars open up QB competition after Blake Bortles' struggles

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NFL Notes: Jaguars open up QB competition after Blake Bortles' struggles

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles may have started his last game in Jacksonville.

Coach Doug Marrone opened up the team's quarterback competition Thursday night after another inconsistent performance from Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Bortles completed 8 of 13 passes for 65 yards in a 12-8 exhibition loss to Tampa Bay. All four of his drives ended with punts. The first-team offense now has three points in Bortles' six preseason possessions.

He misfired to Allen Robinson twice Thursday, including a woefully underthrown pass down the seam that drew boos from the home crowd and caused some head-shaking on the sideline.

"It's hard to not hear people booing," Bortles said. "But if they're cheering or booing, it's kind of irrelevant, at least for me it is. I think you've got to treat adversity and prosperity the same way. They're not booing for no reason. They're booing because you didn't do your job" (see full story).

Steelers: LB Shazier returns to practice
LATROBE, Pa. -- On a day when the Pittsburgh Steelers were set to break camp and return home, inside linebacker Ryan Shazier was just glad to be back on the field.

Shazier fully practiced during the Steelers last day in Latrobe after missing the previous two weeks with a slight hamstring pull.

"I was telling the guys on the sideline that I was so thankful to be back in the mix," Shazier said after Friday's practice. "It was great to be back out there, running around and seeing football from the inside of my helmet instead of from the sideline."

Shazier said he isn't playing in the team's second preseason game on Sunday when the Steelers host the Atlanta Falcons. Though he admitted to feeling behind, the fourth-year linebacker believes he can catch up.

Ravens: Zuttah returns after being traded
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have signed center Jeremy Zuttah, who returns to the team that traded him to San Francisco in March.

Zuttah started every game last year and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He was dealt to the 49ers so Baltimore could save salary-cap space and move up 12 spots in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

Zuttah was released by San Francisco last week, and the Ravens signed him Friday to join a depleted offensive line in dire need of a veteran presence in the middle.

The Ravens were counting on John Urschel to play center this season, but he abruptly retired in late July. Ryan Jensen has been playing center, but he could move to guard to replace Alex Lewis, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

The 31-year-old Zuttah started 41 games in Baltimore over the past three years.

NFL: Gun charge against linebacker Greene
ELIZABETH, N.J. -- A gun charge against an NFL linebacker has been dropped because the man who said he gave him a weapon admitted he lied, the player's attorney said.

The charge against free agent Khaseem Greene was dismissed by a judge on July 17 after a request from prosecutors, NJ.com reported this week.

His attorney, Joshua McMahon, provided an audio recording to NJ.com of the other man telling detectives he lied about Greene's involvement in a shooting outside a nightclub in Elizabeth last December.

Jason Sanders' admission came the same day he told detectives that Greene was involved, but it wasn't included in a criminal complaint that alleged that Greene was seen on camera handing him a gun, McMahon said. Sanders is accused of firing into a crowd and remains jailed on aggravated assault and weapons offenses.

McMahon said the audio recording proves prosecutors moved forward with charges even though Sanders admitted he lied.

LeSean McCoy as good as ever, building Hall of Fame case

LeSean McCoy as good as ever, building Hall of Fame case

After running four times for 21 yards and catching an 11-yard pass against his former team, LeSean McCoy contemplated his cameo performance in the Eagles-Bills preseason game.

"Felt good," he said. "If it was a real game? I probably would have gone for about 130."

He hasn't changed.

McCoy, the leading rusher in Eagles history, has been gone for three years now, and in the relative anonymity of Orchard Park, N.Y., is quietly putting up some staggering numbers, building on his six years with the Eagles.

Hard to believe McCoy is now starting his ninth NFL season, but he just turned 29 and at least based on last year is as good as ever.

If not better.

"When I was younger I could eat bad and hang out and then still be LeSean McCoy," he said Thursday night in the Bills' locker room. "Where now I'm older so I've got to watch what I eat, get some sleep. Small things that you didn't think would matter that really do matter."

It seems to be paying off. McCoy last year ran for nearly 1,300 yards with an NFL-leading 5.4 average, 14 touchdowns and 50 catches. He became the fourth-oldest back in NFL history to average at least 5.4 yards per carry and the first from that group in 70 years to also score 14 TDs.

McCoy's 5.4 average last year was fifth-highest in NFL history by a back 28 or older.

He said he feels like he's as good as ever.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I'm sure a lot of defenders from different teams and coordinators will tell you that. This year, I have to prove myself again. It's one of the things that I've been doing since I've been in the league when I was a rookie. And I look forward to the challenge.

"But the cool thing about it is is that it won't be as hard because of the guys I have around me. My linemen are really good. They give me opportunities in space to go 1-on-1 with defenders."

McCoy, whose 4.7 career average is tied for 10th in NFL history among non-quarterbacks, said one of the keys to his late-career success — which is rare for running backs — is the lessons he learned from former teammates like Brian Westbrook and Darren Sproles.

"Just talking to different guys," he said. "A guy like Westbrook telling me different things. You actually see it. Sproles is always talking about it, 'Take care of your body,' telling me that the whole year, even the offseason, you want to stay at the same weight. So right now I'm probably 209, 210, and I started out at 209, 210, so that's great."

McCoy has the 10th-most yards ever by a running back before his 29th birthday, and seven of the eight ahead of him who are eligible for the Hall of Fame are already in.

With three more years at his career averages — 1,119 rushing yards, 48 receptions — he'll be over 12,000 rushing yards and 500 catches, and all four backs who've done that (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marcus Allen, Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk) have been enshrined in Canton. And Shady has a far higher per-carry average than any of those four.

Because of his consistency and explosiveness, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has become a realistic goal for the Eagles' second-round pick out of Pitt.

He said he doesn't think about that stuff.

Well, sometimes.

"I think the biggest number that you want to get is a ring," he said. "This team, we haven't been in the playoffs in quite some time (since 1999). Hopefully, we get that established, accomplish that, and then if I get lucky and get a ring, man, then I start thinking about the numbers.

"But it's always in the back of my mind. I use that to kind of motivate me, whether it's a ring or chasing different yardage, it keeps me motivated."

McCoy is surrounded by familiar faces in Buffalo. New Bills head coach Sean McDermott was here with him in Philly, as was offensive line coach Juan Castillo and offensive assistant Chad Hall. Jordan Poyer and Jordan Matthews were with him in Philly. Even new Bills PR director Derek Boyko was with him all six years with the Eagles.

"All my old guys," he said. "I was excited when Sean got the job, I'm familiar with him, I know what type of attitude he'll bring here — which we need. All the coaches and guys here, we have our Philly stories. It's a special place, and a lot of people who come from here always show love and speak highly of playing with the Eagles and that's something I've shared here.

"No complaints. Some of the best times of my life were here. That's something me and Sean kind of share and have in common and that makes me more comfortable, having all those guys being in Buffalo."

McCoy would still be an Eagle if it weren't for Chip Kelly, and although he's finally moved on, he still has a home here and lots and lots of friends.

"It's always special getting back to Philly," he said. "This is my home and the fans and this organization were great to me since I got here at 20 years old, so it's always going to be special to me.

"I miss my house here, a lot of my family is from Harrisburg, which is an hour away, got a lot of Philly family, so it's always going to be like a second family for me, for sure.

"Started my career here, stay in contact with Duce (Staley), Sproles, we chat and text, (Brent) Celek all the time, a lot of friends here, a lot of good people that I know. This is a special place to me. Always."