10 Takeaways from Howie Roseman’s State of the Eagles Address
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) – Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ executive VP of football operations, held court with the media Wednesday in a wide-ranging, half-hour session discussing where the organization is as it looks forward to the 2017 season after a middling 7-9 campaign.
Here are 973espn.com’s 10 takeaways from the session:
HEY, DID YOU HEAR? THE EAGLES GOT A QB
Roseman was most proud of the job he did in acquiring Carson Wentz, often pointing out that 365 days prior the Eagles went into the offseason with no signal caller under contract with the first order of business was getting the long-term answer at the game’s most important position, something he was able to do by moving up twice in the draft, starting at. No. 13 overall before jumping to No. 8 and then the second overall selection.
“As we look back at where we were last year, we were sitting here without a second-round pick, with no quarterback under contract, and a lot of free agents, not only last offseason but this offseason. We felt like we had to do things to address that for the future of this franchise. It started with the quarterback position,” he said. “Being able to move up from 13 to 2 and get Carson Wentz was something we were really excited about; we understood with the amount of resources we put into that trade, it would be hard to do a lot else.”
AND HOWIE THINKS HE GOT IT RIGHT
Wentz completed 379 of 607 throws for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions despite lacking any real playmakers at the wide receiver position. Although the rookie struggled with his mechanics late in the campaign and may have suffered from a bit of a tired arm, all signs are pointing up for the 24-year-old signal caller.
“Carson missed the final three preseason games, missed a month of training camp. He was notified eight days before the season that he was the starting quarterback for the season,” Roseman said. “His competitive fire, his intangible skill set, his physical skill set, we couldn’t be more excited about the things he brings to the table, and to see what he’s going to do with a full offseason and the opportunity to grow here in year two.”
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PEDERSON HANDED ADVERSITY WELL
Roseman was also happy with his choice to be head coach and particularly focused on the off-the-field issues that Doug Pederson handled so well, perhaps a nod to the emotional intelligence part of the equation Jeffrey Lurie coined when moving on from Chip Kelly.
“You talk about facing adversity. Head coach comes in and our right tackle is suspended for 10 games. Our starting quarterback is traded eight days before the start of the regular season. And the way the players responded, certainly towards the end of the season you could see how the players felt about him,” Roseman said.
DOUGLAS IN CHARGE
Roseman provided some clarification on how the Eagles’ personnel department now works and the highly-regarded Joe Douglas is now in complete charge of its day-to-day operations and will put together the team’s draft board.
Roseman will still have the final say after the major decision-makers are at loggerheads but the news that Douglas, once a lieutenant of Ozzie Newsome’s in Baltimore, will be in charge of the foundation of all things personnel was a solid step forward.
“He’s made a huge addition to the building,” Roseman said of Douglas. “The first thing he did was bring in (personnel assistant) Andy Weidl (also from Baltimore), to have someone who spoke the same language. He’s got tremendous presence, Joe and Andy. He’s got a way of looking at and evaluating players that’s different than what we’ve done in the past, and quite frankly we needed that.
“(Douglas) has full reign to set the draft board, he’s involved in every discussion we have about building this team, and I think we’ll start seeing the dividends — we saw some of them with our waiver cuts, and I think we’ll continue to see them throughout the offseason.”
WHERE’S DOUG WITH PERSONNEL?
Clearly, the bitter aftertaste of Kelly is still with Roseman and he has set up things to where he and Douglas will build the roster and Pederson will coach it.
“(Pederson) asks a lot of questions about the things we’re doing,” Roseman said. “We ask for his input. We funnel down the information for his staff. But we need to know what they need, we need to know what it looks like for them at each position. They do a great job of letting us know that, starting with Doug and then funneling down to the rest of his staff.”
RIDICULOUS ROWE EXPLANATION
The Eagles struggled mightily at the cornerback position this season yet traded away talented second-year player Eric Rowe to New England for a conditional draft pick. The fact that Rowe played very well for the Pats only highlighted the poor decision-making and the fact that Jim Schwartz jumped to conclusions far too quickly when it came to Rowe.
“When we sat down and discussed the offer, we really started thinking about, as we said at that time, the likelihood that we’d sign him to an extension,” Roseman explained. “We want to build this team with some continuity. We felt at that time that we weren’t going to sign him to an extension, and to be able to get that value for him and possibly add someone who would be here for a longer period of time, made sense for where we were.”
Asked to follow-up on why Roseman and the coaching staff would make that decision so early when they had two more years of Rowe’s services in front of them before needing to make it, Roseman simply doubled down.
“We did make that determination based on the defense we have, the scheme we have, and after talking about the corner position with the coaches, we were concerned about getting the same value if it was the same situation going forward,” he said. “And obviously you can only deal with the information you have at the time.”
DODGING THE OBVIOUS
The Eagles obviously need help at certain positions, namely receiver, cornerback and running back but Roseman was coy in addressing those obvious needs, not a surprise at this stage of the offseason although he did at least speak to the lack of big plays from the WRs.
“It seems like a long time ago we were leading the National Football League in 20-plus plays,” he said. “I don’t have a DeLorean time machine to go back in time and get some of those guys back. We have a young group, we have a young room. They need to continue to grow, and it’s one of the things, among others, we need to look at.”
VETERAN PAY CUTS
All teams are faced with difficult decision when it comes to veteran players and their salary-cap numbers and some of the Eagles’ veterans that could be asked to restructure include left tackle Jason Peters and defensive end Connor Barwin.
“As we look towards putting a plan in place, we’ve got to look at everyone on the team and figure out what the value is,” Roseman admitted. “Again, don’t want to talk about anyone specifically out of respect for contract situations, but we’ve got to do whatever’s in the best interest of this team going forward.”
7-9 ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH AND NEITHER IS 10-6
Perhaps Roseman should get back to 10-6 before he starts talking about jumping that phase of this organization’s development but nonetheless, he harped on being one of those team’s that could garner a first-round bye somewhat consistently.
“It’s never satisfactory when we’re sitting here having a press conference in January,” Roseman said. “But the reality is when we made the decision to trade up for our quarterback, we’re going to build around him. When we re-signed Fletch (Fletcher Cox), we knew we had a 25-year-old we’d build around, and we’re going to stick to our plan, be disciplined with our process, and do the right things for this team.
“…I think you go back and you look at 2008, when we were in the championship game, and then 2009 and ‘10. 10-6 isn’t good enough to get home field advantage, to compete for a championship. It’s a huge edge to have that bye. So we’ve got to build the team with that in mind. I think some of the things we’ve done have been to get the team to 10-6, and that’s not good enough.”
Roseman was asked about what he learned in the year he was away from the football operations aspect as Kelly steered the organization into a cliff. The biggest advantage he claimed was being able to step away from the day-to-day grind of trying to make the playoffs and take a more forward-looking approach based on long-term success.
“Really, to be fair, being on the (business) side gave me incredible perspective,” he claimed. “Showed how much I value the relationships, how much I cared about this team. We have a lot of really good people here. I think one of the reasons we were able to keep our priorities aligned and decide we had to have a quarterback who, when we looked on the field, we thought he could stabilize the position for 10 years, is because you get out of the day-to-day mode of, ‘How do we make the playoffs?’ and get into the mode of building this team to sustain success.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen