Thursday, March 05, 2015

Eagles on fast track to dysfunction

by John McMullen 
Phanatic Managing Editor

Philadelphia, PA -- Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie once called his operation "kind of the gold standard."

These days, it's kind of a mess thanks to the distrust between coach Chip Kelly and his former boss, Howie Roseman. In fact, the gold standard has gone from zero to dysfunction faster than your average Corvette.

Kelly won a power struggle back in January, gaining full control of the personnel side and banishing Roseman back to the business end of the operation, where the ex-GM is supposed to be handling the contract negotiations of the players Kelly wants.

Yet the rift between the two is so deep that Roseman's office at the team's facility, which used to be two doors down from Kelly's, was recently moved from the football operations end of the building to the business side, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Most who lose power struggles typically are shown the door but Lurie is hedging his bets here and trying to serve two masters, attempting to keep his indispensable right-hand man (Roseman) in case the flavor of the month (Kelly) turns out to be exactly that.

Roseman's natural state is that of a shark, however, a take-no- prisoners operative in the mold of a Rahm Emanuel. At 39, he was the youngest GM in all of football and the list of executives who have lost power struggles to him is stunning: Joe Banner, Tom Heckert, Jason Licht, Ryan Grigson, Louis Riddick, and Kelly's friend Tom Gamble.

And although he finally lost one to Kelly, Roseman is staying put for now and still swimming while playing the waiting game, hoping the extra rope Kelly has been given will be enough to hang the coach Howie had a hand in hiring.

Anyone who knows Roseman and what makes him tick understands his first love is personnel so having that aspect of the job taken away from him has been difficult despite the consolation prize of a fancy new title (executive vice president of football operations) and a few more zeros in his paycheck.

Roseman, though, understands Lurie couldn't chose him over Kelly this early in the former Oregon coach's tenure because the Eagles changed their entire culture to lure Kelly from the college ranks and his unconventional methods simply can't be duplicated.

Roseman is now actively trying to speed up Kelly's demise, speaking out about the coach's perceived willingness to mortgage the future in an effort to reunite with his old college quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

The Eagles are scheduled to pick at No. 20 on April 30 and moving up to the top spot or even No. 2 in an effort to get Mariota is almost untenable unless Kelly is willing to risk it all, something Roseman seems to be secretly rooting for in the hopes it ultimately fails.

"When you're looking at trading up, at some point, your board drops off so dramatically in terms of how you evaluate that player," Roseman recently said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. "But the history of trading up for one player, when you look at those trades, isn't good for the team trading up and putting a lot of resources into it."

If that sounds passive aggressive to you, give yourself a gold star. It's almost as if Roseman is attempting to get his thought process on the record in the hopes Kelly does indeed ship multiple first-round draft picks and a big- name star or two to whomever in an effort to get a player Kelly and some draftniks seem much higher on than the rest of the league.

"I think Marcus will be successful whether he's an NFL player, a banker, a teacher, a fireman, a policeman," Kelly said on a Philadelphia-area radio station when asked about his former recruit. "I've said it before about some other players, but if you can buy stock in a human being, you buy stock in that kid because he'll always be successful in anything he does."

Roseman offered a far different spin in Boston.

"If you're hitting on 60 percent of your first-round picks, that's a pretty good track record," Roseman said. "And then it's dropping as you go through the rounds. So really, the more chances you get, the more tickets to the lottery you get, the better you should be doing."

When Roseman was in charge, he practiced what he preached, amassing 48 draft picks during five years.

"At the end of the day, it's about the player you picked," Roseman said. "You can go through each round of the draft on players on your team and see you have guys who are really good players from the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round ... There's always value."

"You can kind of convince yourself of, 'Who am I really going to get in the fifth or sixth round? Roseman continued. "I'm willing to give up that pick, because I really want this player in the second or third round. But it's all about the evaluations and getting the right players into your building."

You do need the right players in the facility but you also need the right front-office people and even if Philadelphia finds its next superstar QB in late April, it's still going to missing one- half of that equation.

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