Eagles Promote Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly in Front Office Restructure
So the Eagles finally spoke.
Whispers on Friday afternoon grew, suggesting there was some sort of rift between Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman, following the release of Kelly's hand picked choice Tom Gamble.
Speculation on everything from Kelly leaving the team, to a major change to the coaching staff causing Kelly to be upset, led the Eagles to finally announce a change.
Finally the team ended all the speculation and rumors by sending out a pair of e-mails.
One with a statement from Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie and another announcing a new structural change for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Former general manager Howie Roseman has been elevated to the role of Executive Vice President of Football Operations and will continue directing contract negotiations, salary cap management, and NFL strategic matters, while overseeing the team’s medical staff, equipment staff and more. He'll also receive an extension through 2020. Despite the promotion, Roseman will be limited to contract negotiations and salary cap management.
“Philadelphia is my home and the Eagles are my family. My number one goal is to help bring a championship to this city and that will never change," said Roseman. "I believe this will solidify the trust we have all placed in Coach Kelly."
Head coach Chip Kelly now has a position similar to the one Andy Reid held in Philadelphia before he left the team, with control over draft and roster decisions, and the opportunity to lead the search for Tom Gamble’s replacement.
“We are a good football team and we believe these steps will help make us a great team," said Lurie. "That step - from good to great - is the most difficult one for any organization to make. To do that, sometimes you have to step back and really look hard at where you are today and what you want to become."
After the team parted ways with Gamble earlier this week, there was speculation that there was a power struggle emerging between Kelly and Roseman, with the GM winning that battle. With this announcement, Kelly clearly got what he wanted, full control for the roster and the ability to pick the guys he wants for his team.
In a second press release, team owner Lurie dismissed any notion of unrest in the front office, and reiterated his trust in the Eagles’ head coach.
"I have a very good relationship with Chip that continues to grow stronger and stronger," Lurie stated in that second press release. "When we spoke, he was thoughtful, thorough and professional. There were no demands, no threats- quite the contrary- he was passionate, engaged and articulated a dynamic and clear vision on how this fully integrated approach will work. We look forward to seeing it come to life over time."
So are the tweaks to Kelly’s and Roseman’s positions enough to satisfy both parties? Roseman’s role in personnel decisions has been reduced and Kelly has obvious power to make all personnel decisions. It will be interesting to see if both parties can coexist and if this is a long-term fix for the Eagles, or will just serve as a band-aid solution.
Sounds like Chip should be happy, but what about Roseman? Not that many fans care if Roseman is happy anyway.
But keep in mind many people have speculated over the past few years that it was Roseman who was in charge of the 2012 draft which added players like Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Vinny Curry and Bryce Brown.
Meanwhile, the past two seasons many believe it has been Kelly that has been pulling the trigger on the Eagles draft picks.
In 2013, Kelly took Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan in the top three rounds and all three have made some impact at the pro level. The fourth through seventh rounds didn't add too much depth to the roster, most notably trading up in the fourth round to select quarterback Matt Barkley.
In 2014, Kelly selected Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith in the first round. Smith had just about no impact this rookie season, shifting from outside to inside linebacker in the middle of the season. Second round pick Jordan Matthews had a great rookie season, but with Smith being a disaster and no other real impact player in the class - the 2014 draft to this point has been a big miss for Kelly.
Factor in his decision to allow DeSean Jackson walk, getting nothing in return, how confident are you in Kelly's ability to run the show?
“This is not a one-man operation,” said Kelly. “It will truly take a team effort to acquire and develop the best football players and then put the best team on the field each week. It will take all of us working together."
While it's impossible to judge the rookies based on one season, one thing that stands out to me is that lack of depth added on the offensive line though the draft and the lack of talent added in the secondary in the earlier rounds.
The Eagles have age and injury issues all across the offensive line - while Johnson, the fourth overall pick in Kelly's first draft, looks like a fine addition, he should move to left tackle and replace Jason Peters, who is 32 and signed until 2018. However, other than Johnson, the Eagles have not added another player on the offensive line through the last two drafts.
Left guard Evan Mathis is 33 years old, set to make $5.5 million in 2015, will be a free agent after the 2016 season and Todd Herremans, now 32, ended the season on the injured reserve, is signed through 2016, but has no guaranteed money remaining on his contract. His $4 million salary for 2015 makes him a candidate for release.
The secondary has been an absolute disaster for the team and the past two draft classes haven't added any help. The team took Earl Wolff in the fifth round in 2013 and Jaylen Watkins in the fourth round and Ed Reynolds in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. So while the entire secondary struggled, especially Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, there is no young talent ready to replace those guys and to fix this position, the Eagles may have to look to do so via free agency.
So Kelly is calling the shots now, Roseman is back to being the bean counter - but is the best scenario for the Eagles moving forward? I think we all like Chip Kelly the coach, but do we like Chip Kelly the talent evaluator?
I think the jury is still out on that.
As many of you know, I was not a fan of the DeSean Jackson decision. I know many people don't agree with me on that stance, but its hard for me to believe an offense with Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Jordan Matthews would be tough to stop. Its not that the offense was bad this season, Maclin did a fine job replacing Jackson, its about what they could have been with Jackson on board.
While Kelly may have won this battle vs Roseman he now will have to prove that he can fix this roster and get this team back to the playoffs. Keep in mind, the Eagles haven't won a playoff game in six years, and have only missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons once since Andy Reid was hired back in 1999.
In Reid's second season, he made the playoffs, two years after taking over a horrendous 3-13 Ray Rhodes mess. In Reid's third season, the he led the Eagles to the NFC championship game, turning over many of Rhodes players and adding his own touch to the roster.
Many people like to say Kelly is winning with Reid's players, following his 4-12 mess in 2012. However, let be serious the team may have been 4-12, but they didn't have 4-12 talent - many think the front office rift between Joe Banner, Howie Roseman and Reid all but burned Andy out.
We all were ready for change, Andy included.
But by year three, with the power Kelly possess - shouldn't he, much like Andy have gotten rid of the players who helped the Eagles get to 4-12 and sprinkled in his own touch? To suggest he took a team from 4-12 to 10-6 with Reid's players is fair, but really Jackson, McCoy, the entire offensive line (which was missing 4 of 5 starters in 2012) and Brent Celek were all capable players who are still here (except for Jackson).
On defense, many of Reid's players are the foundation of the team today. Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Trent Cole, Nate Allen and Cedric Thornton were all here during Reid's tenure. The players Kelly has added, Malcolm Jenkins, Cary Williams, Connor Barwin and Bradley letcher in free agency and Bennie Logan via the draft.
So many Eagles fans are going to get their wish - Roseman works the cap, Kelly picks the players - but haven't we been down this road before?
Andy Reid was a great coach, who just couldn't take the team where everyone wanted it to go - Super Bowl champions. However, when Andy gained more and more power, he lost more and more fans and the team began to suffer on-the-field - before he finally was fired.
Let's just hope Chip can have the same success, bring us on just as wild a ride, but let's just hope it has a better ending for Chip then it did for Andy.