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By Joe Staszak

 

Well, just when when you thought that the Philadelphia Eagles had completely and thoroughly
disgraced the franchise, after a 4-11-1 season, they managed to outdo themselves last Monday
when owner Jeffrey Lurie decided to spew 42 minutes of insulting, nonsensical rhetoric on why
he decided to fire head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson by the way is the second fastest head
coach to get fired after winning the Super Bowl. Only one head coach in the Super Bowl era
has been fired faster. The Baltimore Colts’ head man Don McCafferty owns that dubious
distinction. McCafferty was fired one season and five games after winning the whole thing in
Super Bowl Five, after refusing to bench quarterback Johnny Unitas, as the Colts’ general
manager Joe Thomas demanded that he do. Wow – I guess things could be worse around here
(nah, not really).

But before we touch on last Monday’s latest embarrassing chapter in Eagles’ lore let’s go back.
At the end of the 2015 season the Eagles decided to move on from Chip Kelly and start over by
implementing a five year plan with the goal being, as usual, a Super Bowl Championship. They
promptly hired head coach Doug Pederson and drafted quarterback Carson Wentz. Well, the
five years is over and by some act of God they actually accomplished their goal, ironically
without the “franchise” quarterback they drafted to deliver the ring (See Nick Foles).
Exactly 1,071 days since Pederson delivered Philly’s first world championship, he is out of a job
and his former “franchise” quarterback is lost in space.

Why? Well apparently the meeting on Monday between the owner and coach was for the owner
to get an idea of Pederson’s vision for the future, a.k.a. the next five years. What kind of
question is that? An NFL head coaches’ vision is usually tunneled in the now. Right now his
first order of business would be to fix Carson Wentz and win NOW. End of story. Because If he
can’t get the quarterback right it doesn’t matter what else he does. As the quarterback goes, so
goes the team. Since this former head coach had little or no control over the players that he
would be coaching, how can you base his future on his answer to that ridiculous question?
The vision comes from the guy buying the groceries and by proxy, the team owner as well. This
particular owner wants an innovative offensive-minded head coach. Think about it. The last
three head coaches here were all offensive “gurus” thought to be on the cutting edge of
offensive schemes with highflying passing attacks – Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson,
a Reid protegé.

This was just one of Lurie’s brilliant nuggets from Monday’s press conference. “Doug’s … vision
has to be: ‘What can I do to fix this right away,’ (and) my vision is much more: ‘How can we get
back to the success we’ve had and what we’re used to in the next two, three, four, five years?’”
Light bulb alert! Let’s ponder that for a second. If you have a quarterback in his prime that you
believe to be or who can be elite, you’re not thinking about a five-year plan. You want to
surround him with as many pieces as you can right now before he passes his prime. Wentz is
28.

It sounds like Lurie is thinking about the next five years and possibly beyond. If that’s the case
and you read between the lines that does not bode well for Wentz being here next season.
Lurie also mentioned the word “asset” in his rambling, incoherent diatribe. In NFL speak, an
asset is “trade bait”, something that should yield a quality return in a trade. Hmmmmm. Was he
talking about Wentz or Jalen Hurts? Maybe he was talking about both. It certainly doesn’t take
a cryptologist to decipher that Lurie hardly committed to either of his quarterbacks moving
forward.

If the owner doesn’t think Wentz can be fixed and doesn’t believe that Hurts is a franchise
quarterback, there’s a real possibility that the Eagles could be looking to start over. If that’s the
case this would qualify as a complete tear down. That’s where that number six pick in next
year’s draft becomes so valuable as there are four or five quality quarterbacks coming from the
college ranks this coming April (see last week’s installment, “Dude, Your Team Won Six Games
This Season. Shut Up Please!”). Considering Wentz’ injury history and his sub-500 record since
the Super Bowl season I would not blame the Birds if they decided to go this way. In fact I
would seriously consider it.

Obviously, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields will be off the board by
the time the Birds select, but BYU’s Zach Wilson and Florida’s Kyle Trask should still be there.
Or can you imagine, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance? You never know, being a quarterback
factory here and all.

*Nugget Alert*

Heisman winner, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith finished his college career with just
under 4,000 yards receiving, 43 touchdowns (including the game-winning touchdown catch in
overtime to win the National Championship as a freshman and three touchdowns and 12
receptions for 215 yards last Monday night in Alabama’s National Championship victory over
Ohio State. Oh, and that was just in the first half. He missed almost the entire second half with
a dislocated finger. He did all of those things mentioned above in 47 games. But here’s the
kicker. In the 13 games he played in this year Smith hauled in 117 receptions on 137 targets
and ..wait for it…had just TWO drops! That’s not a typo. Just TWO drops! You can count on
the Birds current receiving corp to drop at least two balls by the end of the first quarter. Just
sayin’. Any way if the Birds don’t go the quarterback route and Smith is still available at six he
could do worlds for this anemic offense. But don’t count on him still being there.

Back to the current chaotic state of the union that is your team, your town, your Philadelphia
Eagles. Clearly Pederson is the first of what should be many dominoes to fall as part of the
rebuilding process.

After sounding like an idiot already, Lurie went on to say this last Monday and I’m not making
this up.“Did he (Doug) deserve to be let go? No, he did not deserve to be let go.”
What? That sounds like something coming from someone who disagrees with the firing not
from the guy who fired him. Not only am I not making this up but I can’t make this up. I’m not
into fiction. But apparently the Birds are.
The good news is that apparently the Eagles are now a general manager factory too. Yay for
us! Lurie trumped that last comment by defending his general manager and current consigliere,
Howie Roseman, by raving about how Roseman has surrounded himself with such elite talent
evaluators.

“We have about five people in our organization that right now I could project that will be general
managers in this league.”

Well if that’s the case J.L, how about hiring one of them? There’s a novel idea eh? If they’re
such good drafters why don’t they draft good? Why? Because Roseman has the final say and
the sitting g.m. has a horrific draft record over the last seven drafts. It should come as no
surprise that this team is where they are right now because of his gross incompetence. And
therein lies the real problem. What we have is two codependent football executives who have
deprived their team of young talent and have implemented a coaching staff infrastructure
without a legitimate hierarchy. Reports have it that Roseman and Lurie have gotten too
involved in the actual football decisions and did not and would not let the former coach hand
pick his coaching subordinates. And because of that, more disturbing reports have surfaced
that some of Pederson’s coaching minions, the ones that Roseman force fed on the former
coach, have undermined him behind the scenes. Good luck attracting an experienced quality
coach with those kinds of power restrictions and complete utter dysfunction in the heart of the
coaching food chain. Eesh!

I saved the best for last. If it was a Broadway show this would have been the finale. In his
continued defense of Roseman, Lurie went on to say. “…we are identifying the best players, but
they get taken two, three, four, five picks ahead of us, that’s also part of the evaluation.” Now if
that didn’t make you laugh out loud and stand up and throw (virtual) roses at the (virtual) stage,
you probably just aren’t into brilliantly written sports comedies because this press conference
made me laugh more than any other cinematic or live effort I’ve ever seen parodying sports.
No, seriously, he actually said that. I guess it’s just not fair that other teams snag your guys
before you do. I guess the rules committee should look into changing some of the drafting rules
in order to weed out those real meanie teams that keep holding yours back, Of course the
owner didn’t have an alibi for his g.m, passing on Seattle receiver D.K. Metcalf and Minnesota
receiver Justin Jefferson, both taken after the Eagles selected receivers J.J. Arcega Whiteside
and Jalen Reagor in the last two drafts respectively.

I have a hard time getting my brain around a team that went 16-2 (in games that mattered) and
won a Super Bowl Championship less than three calendar years ago to where this team is now.
Injuries aside, they are in cap hell, have little to no young talent, no coach and no quarterback to
speak of right now heading into the next five year plan. They’re dysfunctional, rudderless, and
taking on water faster and faster with each passing week it seems. I hate to say this but don’t
count on a quick turnaround any time soon. Most if not all championship winning teams and
quality run franchises usually consist of four main ingredients – a strong owner, a visionary and
extremely competent general manager, an innovative head coach, and an elite quarterback.

How many boxes did you check? Yeah, me too.