Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie deserve a lot of credit for the job they’ve done getting the Philadelphia Eagles back on track. While I wish I were a character on the X-Files, sadly I am of sound mind, body and spirit when I applaud those two individuals. The organization from top to bottom has improved over the last month. The team has extended the contracts of two young building blocks for the future (and Brent Celek). The Eagles have shed a majority of the embarrassing criticism by pundits and national media members. While much of the recent criticism centered on Chip Kelly, the Eagles as a franchise were the subject of too many jokes during his tenure. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the team could use a little conventionality.
The road to conventionality, along with continuity, began with the Doug Pederson hire. But the moves afterwards were equally important. Lining up Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator. Denying the San Francisco 49ers the opportunity to interview offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland or special teams coach Dave Fipp. Retaining the services of Duce Staley as the running backs coach. These are moves that not only benefit the new coaching regime, but help maintain the relationships between the players and coaching staff. Surely, an argument could be made that the retention of some of these coaches falls under “emotional intelligence”.
It was very recently announced that the Eagles received permission to interview Brandon Hunt, the Pro Personnel Director for the Pittsburgh Steelers, for the “player personnel head” position in Philadelphia. Whether Hunt’s decisions and guidance ultimately led to the Steelers’ draft selections surely can be questioned. But the Steelers drafted very well during Hunt’s tenure in the steel city. The years prior to working in Pittsburgh, Hunt worked as a pro scout for the Houston Texans. And in those years, the Texans drafted very well. What a remarkable concept. Be consistent with the scouting department and build the team predominantly through the draft.
Speaking of good draft picks, the Philadelphia Eagles have extended the contracts of tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson. And just like that extra side of stuffing at Thanksgiving, Roseman will take all the credit heaped upon his plate. Following Johnson’s contract extension, Zach Berman dropped this quote from Johnson’s agent on Twitter:
Considering Kelly’s agenda to forgo the offensive line in any capacity, I think I’m giving a gigantic nod to Howie Roseman on this one. Fans are eagerly waiting for defensive lineman Fletcher Cox to receive his contract extension. Rest assured folks, the Eagles are back to centering themselves around solid young talent, and as a result Cox will likely be the beneficiary of a monster contract.
It’s important to note just how much youth Kelly gutted from this roster. At the beginning of the 2012 season, the Eagles had the second youngest roster in the NFL. At the beginning of last season, the Eagles had the fifth oldest roster in the NFL. Young talents such as DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin cannot be replaced with aged veterans like Miles Austin.
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The humility lacked by the man in charge over the past three seasons has bitten this team in the proverbial rear-end. The inexplicable trade for Sam Bradford has left a looming cloud over the quarterback position in Philadelphia and a lack of a second round draft pick.
The Eagles’ first round draft pick could also be used to clarify the murky quarterback situation. While Bradford and the Eagles have been relatively optimistic vocally, the rumored contract demands largely focus on a price that is only slightly more expensive than the projected cost of a franchise-tagged quarterback. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some quarterbacks that will be entering the NFL draft this year. As was the case for many years prior to Kelly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles make an effort to accrue more draft picks. Sitting at number 13 in the draft, the Eagles could entertain offers that could nullify the loss of the pick involved in the aforementioned trade.
No, everything is not perfect for the Eagles. There is a lot of work to be done and a long way to go before this team is in contention for a Super Bowl berth. But the journey has to start somewhere, and thus far this offseason has gotten this franchise closer to that point. And whether we like it or not, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie are not only doing the right things, but they’re deserving of praise. So pour me another glass from that pitcher of Kool-Aid so I can offer a toast to Howie and Jeff on a solid start to this offseason. After all, by the time free agency and the draft roll around, I might be drinking liquor instead of Roseman’s magical elixir.