Saturday Keystone: Howie Roseman. Building A Winner

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Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman speaks during a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Howard Roseman was born in Brooklyn, New York,  on June 23, 1975.  Despite growing up in New York, his idol was a west coast head coach with some insights into the game of football – Bill Walsh.    His passion for Walsh was so intense that he read any book or magazine article  from or about the man.   But his love was more than idol worship – he appreciated Walsh’s strategic view of football.    Perhaps that is what prompted Howie to pursue a career in the NFL, which he did relentlessly.

“When I was 9 or 10 [years old], people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up and I told them I wanted to be the general manager of a NFL team.”  – Howard Roseman, as featured on his biography

Howie has had both the success and the failures of a seasoned NFL general manager – it was on his watch when the Eagles signed pro bowler offensive guard Evan Mathis , but it was also during his watch during the infamous, and I can’t type the words, phrase describing the Eagles assembly of NFL talent.   And so, in the same year, Howie learned a painful lesson in the mechanics of the NFL:  more is not better, marquis is not penthouse.  It was that first year of signing free agents and paying less attention to veterans of the Eagles which became an invaluable lesson.

And so, Howie was inexperienced but learned quickly.   He was the king of the deal – the terminology and the clauses which kept the team in a position of budgetting for today and tomorrow.  His ability to assess the skills of players, and to read their contributions and intangibles were not honed to a point of self-sufficiency.  So Howie did what many in his role cannot bring themselves to do – he surrounded himself with talented staff.   Mixing veterans and youth, he’s assembled a strong scouting staff.     But when the team parted ways with former head coach Andy Reid, the team also lost the ability to gauge the likelihood of a player meshing with the team and succeeding in the NFL.   Less than two months later, the team corrected that vacuum by bringing Tom Gamble in as the Vice President of  Player Personnel.    This was only a month after the announcement of Chip Kelly as the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.     Howie multitasks well.

And Howie learns well also.   Howie observed Andy Reid and witnessed the challenges of building through free agency.   Howie witnessed Andy’s methods to restore team harmony – taking care of the players who shared in the Eagles history.     And it was the lesson learned from painful first hand experience which convinced Howie to build modestly and tactically through free agency, but to build depth and strategically through the draft.

No season showed the effects of this more so than 2013.   From a team reeling from a 4-12 butt-kicking, the team’s shopping list went on for miles and miles.   From a franchise quarterback, to offensive linemen, from tight ends to defensive backs, the needs of the Eagles were so great that they simply prioritized what they could and could not do.   In 2013, the team shopped for modestly priced defensive players to shore up the defense, and brought in pieces for the offense and depth via the draft.     It was a tried and true tactic from previous years and worked.   However, no one could have anticipated the team improving so dramatically on both sides of the ball.  Nor could anyone have predicted the 2013 draft as having so many contributing players to a playoff bound team.  But it happened.

Nothing excites fans more in the off-season than talking trades, drafting top picks, even exchanging under-performing players for others who will dramatically become all pro level in one season.    Its a time of runaway optimism and creative management to the nth power.   Do not discount the little things done by this GM, who recognizes the task ruled randomness.   It’s not always the best strategy to swing for the fences.   Howie’s goal is to keep the team improving, keep them moving forward.    To do that, he’s learned not to overextend himself nor the team.

“We’re trying to build our team and we want to do this the right way.   I think one of the mistakes that has happened is the past is that we get in the mold of ‘we think we’re one player a way or two players away and we have to go out and get the next hottest thing,’ I think it’s important we build a team of players that are home grown and people can relate to the names on the back of the Jerseys.  You don’t want to go out and get a bunch of ‘independent contractors’ for lack of a better term. That doesn’t mean we can’t go out and get some guys, but we have to stick with the process we’ve used the last few years. We have to draft the best player available, not necessarily drafting for need. We want to build a team that can compete year after year.”  – Howie Roseman in a January 7, 2014 interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic

So, on the first day of March 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles “feel” close. Their offense is signed and sealed. Their defense needs work, but based on the rapidity of solving the offense questions, the defense issues seem less formidable. Before a single whistle blows in 2014, the team is already capitalizing on 2013’s success.

It doesn’t happen everywhere. It happens in Philly. Thanks to Saturday’s Keystone: Howie Roseman, momentum is building. Howie and Chip will be working together for many years. From the results so far, it appears to be a great working relationship.

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