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.”

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.