By Joe Staszak
Before I begin let me just say that for the most part I have always liked and respected Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie but right now if he had one more eye he’d be a cyclops. My respect level for him as a businessman, decision maker and as an owner has plummeted recently because I can not for the life of me understand why he has not surgically removed the obvious cancer from his football team. That cancer being his right hand man, general manager, Howie Roseman. As I’ve said on the air many, many times I’m not a fan of calling for guys to lose their jobs and have their livelihoods affected, until now.
Keep in mind this is not an impulsive opinion that I am haphazardly throwing out there to further fuel the mob mentality that is currently consuming the minds and hearts of most Eagles’ fans these days.. I’ve been saying this for the last year and a half (check the tapes) and as usual, I’m not wrong.
We are just over three calendar years from watching our beloved local 22 hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history and right now your team, your town, your Philadelphia Eagles are the laughing stock of the NFL. They just wrapped up a 4-11-1 season, fired their Super Bowl winning head coach and are supposedly on the cusp of trading their former “franchise” quarterback, who is coming off the worst season of any starting quarterback in the league last year.
Now there is plenty of blame to go around here but all of the issues that this team has fall under the umbrella of the man who is in charge of all things football, that being the aforementioned Howie Roseman.
The general manager of a football team is charged with acquiring talent, primarily through the draft. That is where the foundation of your team is built. In the last seven draft classes, by my count Roseman has drafted exactly one Pro Bowler and that one Pro Bowler is about to get jettisoned out of here any minute. And oh yea, said Pro Bowler, was the worst player on the team this past year as well as the worst starting quarterback in the league, while he was starting. That’s one Pro Bowler in 49 selections. Do you know how hard that is to do? You could flip a coin every pick and by sheer luck land more than one Pro Bowler in 49 tries. Don’t kill yourself trying to figure out why this is a bad football team. They are quite bereft of talent. Period.
Now most successful football teams have a process and a proper hierarchy/food chain. It goes like this: The owner hires the GM. The GM hires the head coach. The head coach hires his assistants. The GM and the head coach collaborate to select the players. The GM negotiates the contracts and the head coach determines the 53 and 47 man rosters. The head coach or offensive coordinator designs and sends in the plays. The quarterback calls the plays. The players execute the plays (well, some do). The owner counts his money. That’s the way it works. Why? Because it works.
The Eagles do not operate this way. Here, in the land of the lost, the GM and owner select the head coach. The GM and owner hire the head coach’s staff without much input from the head coach. The GM and owner collaborate to select some of the players, with or without the head coach’s stamp of approval. The GM negotiates the contracts and is confrontational with some of the players he has signed about their lack of production and/or leadership. (In 2017, a very prominent and long time veteran Eagle was accosted after a meeting and was berated by the GM about his lack of leadership. This Eagle told one of his teammates afterwards that “he wanted to punch Roseman in the face.”
Because the executive branch here in Philadelphia choose to run their franchise this way, the environment around here has gone from a Super Bowl Champion culture to a completely dysfunctional, undisciplined, resentful and toxic environment from the top right on down and throughout the locker room. A report broke this week that a deal for Carson Wentz was imminent (below). Birds’ second year running back Miles Sanders put out his thoughts on his Instagram account 4 minutes later. Check it out.
The end is near for Carson Wentz in an Eagles uniformhttps://t.co/vxZjPPh5vQ— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) February 6, 2021
Miles Sanders ironic timing for an Instagram Story... pic.twitter.com/BOb8WrSUon— Darius Slay’s Burner(18-8) (@slayburner24) February 6, 2021
Now we know that Sanders is a huge Jalen Hurts fan. But last time I checked he is Carson Wentz’ teammate too. This is an example of the toxicity and the lack of leadership that exists in that locker room right now. Even if you agree with Sanders, you do not under any circumstances throw a teammate under the bus. Yes, even someone who might become a former teammate very soon. At least not in a winning locker room you don’t. Rule number one in a winning locker room – “One heartbeat.” That’s it. That’s the rule. And by the way, if Sanders was any dumber you’d have to water him. The report was bogus and not only is Wentz still one of Sanders’ teammates but there is a small chance that Wentz will still be here when training camp rolls around next year. If Wentz becomes the starter again how’s that huddle dynamic going to work out?
Believe it or not winning the Super Bowl was the best and worst thing that happened to this franchise. It was great winning the Super Bowl wasn’t it? But it’s why this team is a complete mess right now. Why? Because all of the sudden, Lurie and Roseman believed they knew what they were doing. It gave them both a false sense of security and distorted vision of reality and they both got drunk off the adulation they received both locally and nationally. Now they are both completely delusional. Both think they’re “football” guys now. They’re not. They’re both very intelligent, hard working people but they have no clue how to run a successful football franchise. It’s like watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
Let’s say they fired Doug Pederson because they thought the relationship between Wentz and the coach was too fractured to repair. First of all that’s factually inaccurate but let’s for our purposes believe that it was true. Ok so I was led to believe that they were going to bring a new head coach in here to repair what appears to be a broken and expensive quarterback. So they went out and hired the closest thing they could find to former Eagles’ offensive coordinator Frank Reich. His name is Nick Sirianni and he was Reich’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis. (Yeah, I had never really heard of him either before the coaching search began.) Any way Sirianni was hired to fix the quarterback problem and then go from there. Ok I didn’t hate Pederson. In fact I actually thought he was and can be a good coach, albeit a little bit of a loose cannon at times but I wasn’t all that against a change if a change meant a chance of righting the Wentz ship. Can we agree that we were all led to believe that was the plan? Ok so what changed? Why all of the sudden is it priority number one to trade Wentz? Wentz never asked to be traded. That report was also factually inaccurate. If they think they’re going to get compensation like the Lions just did for trading Matthew Strafford to the Rams for Jared Goff – two first round picks and a third then they are as dumb as they look and the overt laughter that can be heard reverberating throughout the league is justified. It’s both comical and embarrassing.
So why did the plan change? If you believe the report that Wentz has asked for a trade then you have to stop believing everything you hear or even anything g you hear. Just remember any leaks regarding the Wentz situation are coming directly from the Roseman camp and to be fair the one thing Roseman does do very well is lie.
So what’s the plan? It just doesn’t seem like this team has one. They seem to do things very whimsically and impulsively and that is never a recipe for success. In fact it’s a recipe for disaster (see 4-11-1).
Lurie and Roseman hired Doug Pederson but gave him very little power to make his own coaching hires and virtually no input on player personnel decisions.
To his credit, Roseman did do a very nice job in 2017 in assembling a team primarily through trades and free agency. Unfortunately, after winning the Super Bowl Roseman tried to run it back by rewarding an aging team by paying in arrears for veterans who were big contributors but most on the downside of their careers.
The problem began rearing its ugly head soon after the parade wrapped up. Stagnancy and age needed to be addressed right then and they weren’t. A talented locker room needs to be constantly refreshed and infused with new, young, talented and inexpensive players. And that happens when you draft well. When you don’t you choke off your team from rejuvenation. But consistently poor drafting by Roseman meant there were no young impact players coming in to reload the roster and create an affordable foundation and team infrastructure to build on. And every year your GM whiffs mightily during the selection process your team suffers a time consuming setback and its growth is stunted. And every year when Roseman realizes he’s botched yet another draft is when he says “ut oh” and goes out and overspends for high priced free agent veterans to compensate for his incompetent talent evaluation. When the cycle continues for seven years your football team winds up in cap hell with a very untalented roster riddled with glaring mistakes like the drafting of JJ Arcega-Whitside instead of wide receiving sensation DK Metcalf. JJAW has 14 receptions for 254 yards and one whopping receiving TD in two seasons while Metcalf on the other hand has hauled in 141 receptions for 2203 and 19 touchdowns, 17 of them through the air for the Seattle Seahawks.
Now in fairness the NFL draft is a crapshoot of sorts especially in the first two rounds. If you hit on 60% of your first and second round picks then you are a drafting savant. So let’s take a look and see how Roseman has done overseeing the last seven drafts in the early rounds shall we? In theory your first and second round picks are supposed to be impact players right away.
2014 First Round – LB/DE Marcus Smith
Dallas DE Demarcus Lawrence was selected eight picks later in the second round. Smith was a bust.
2014 Second Round – WR Jordan Mathews
Green Bay WR Devante Adams was selected 11 picks later.
2015 First Round – WR Nelson Aghalor
Carolina LB Shaq Thompson and Dallas CB Byron Jones were selected five and seven picks later respectively.
2015 Second Round – CB Eric Rowe.
Rowe was traded after one season to the Patriots for a conditional fourth round pick in 2018. That pick became DE Josh Sweat.
2016 First Round QB Carson Wentz
2017 First Round DE Derek Barnett
DE Jonathon Allen, TE OJ Howard, TE Evan Engram, S Jabrill Peppers, OLB T.J. Watt were selected 3,5,9,11 and 16 picks later respectively.
2018 No First Round Pick
2018 Second Round Pick TE Dallas Goeddert
2019 First Round Pick Andre Dillard
Dillard played sparingly in his rookie season and missed all of last season with a biceps injury.
2019 Second Round Pick RB Miles Sanders
2020 First Round WR Jalen Reagor
WR Justin Jefferson was selected by the Vikings with the next pick. Jefferson set a rookie record for receiving yards with 1400. He caught 88 balls and scored nine touchdowns, seven receiving. For these reasons alone Roseman should have been fired. This should have been the final nail in his proverbial coffin.
2020 Second Round QB Jalen Hurts
S Jeremy Chin was chosen 11 picks later by the Panthers
How many impact players did you count? Maybe 2.5? Yeah, me too.
Ever notice that some teams just have the right formula and just keep replicating it and their success reflects that? The Eagles have had 3 head coaches in the last seven years. The Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969 and their six Super Bowl titles is proof that stability and excellent talent evaluation equals championships. All three coaches have won Super Bowls. Antonio Brown was a sixth round pick from Central Michigan. Hines Ward was a third round pick out of Georgia. Le’Veon Bell was a second round pick out of Michigan State. James Connor was a third round pick out of Pitt. John Stallworth was a fourth round pick from Alabama A&M. And their six Super Bowl titles have all been won by just two quarterbacks, both taken in the first round in Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger respectively. They didn’t miss on those two and six championships later…..yeah, don’t make me say it.
Aside from gross incompetence, Roseman’s drafting philosophy is non-existent. All things being equal wouldn’t you rather go with a player who played in a top four or five program rather than the player who played against lesser competition for three or four years? Is it me or does that make too much sense? Of the 88 players currently on the Birds’ roster only five played at a top four program. One is Cameron Johnston, yes, the punter from Oklahoma (feel free to laugh now). Another is a deep reserve offensive lineman in Ross Pierschbacher (I know right?) from Alabama. Linebacker Duke Riley played at LSU along with Jalen Mills, also from LSU and safety K’Von Wallace from Clemson was drafted this past year. Anybody see a skill position
guy any where among the five I just mentioned? The rest of the league averages nine players from the top four programs that I just mentioned and most have at least three or four players who were top skill guys in college.
“Bill” and “Ted” think they’re the smartest guys in the room. Guess what? News flash! They’re not. The smartest guys in the room always know what they don’t know and are willing to put their egos aside for the betterment of the team. Roseman is incredibly insecure and conducts himself as if he has a chip on his shoulder. I’m ok if that chip ends up fueling excellence. But in this case it has the reverse effect on the way Roseman conducts himself and its glaringly obvious to all who have eyes and because of it he has lost the respect of his players and his colleagues around the league. If you want to act like a jerk with a Napoleon complex you better well be damn good at your job. Otherwise you have zero credibility within the franchise and the fan base as well. Roseman is not good at his job and hasn’t been, ever, sans an amazing anomaly in 2017, fueled largely by luck and good fortune, not football acumen. But to be fair he does and should get some credit for that.
I used to go back and forth on the Jalen Hurts pick but after further review it was incredibly stupid. I know why Roseman did it. Selecting Hurts was done because Wentz had just missed another playoff game due to an injury and Roseman wanted an insurance policy. But here’s the problem with that. They needed a lot of help in a lot of other areas. So using a second round pick on a back-up quarterback was probably seen as a slap in the face to Wentz for two reasons. Number one Roseman did not utilize a high pick to bring in more talent to surround Wentz with. And number two Roseman basically drafted what is perceived as his replacement or heir apparent. What they should have done is used the pick to get Wentz more help and then go out and sign a veteran quarterback to be the insurance policy should Wentz continue to get hurt (see Nick Foles and Josh McCown).
The losers in all of this mess are the loyal fans who spend their hard earned money and every drop of emotion on a franchise that is completely disconnected to its fan base. The fans deserve much more than this. It’s difficult to fathom why Mr. Lurie won’t part ways with his incompetent right hand man. It’s flat out malfeasance. But the answer is simple. Keeping Roseman in place allows Lurie to continue to stick his fingers in the pie and maintain some control over football decisions that neither of them are qualified to make. They hired a first time head coach in Doug Pederson and have done the same thing with Nick Sirriani. A guy who’s just thrilled to be given an opportunity to be a first time head coach isn’t going to ask for a lot of power. He doesn’t have a lot of leverage and in a lot of ways is “just happy to be here”.
It really comes down to this. Doug Pederson was in an abusive relationship while here. Controlling partners by definition are abusive and toxic. Until Mr. Lurie either opens his eyes or grows a pair (of eyes and balls), I’m sorry to say but we can expect more of the same dysfunctionality, toxicity and bad football that has gotten us to where we are today. The new norm? Kill, Kill!! Thanks Howie.