Eagles Tilt Toward Analytics Could Cost Them Joe Douglas
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Joe Douglas finished his interview with the New York Jets on Sunday and the scuttlebutt around the league is that the Jets' GM job is his if he wants it.
Adam Gase, the Jets' head coach who recently won a power struggle over former GM Mike Maccagnan, is running the search and Douglas was his No. 1 choice from the outset two different NFL sources told 973espn.com.
Douglas was the third candidate to interview behind Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot. The final scheduled interview is with Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, presumably on Monday, while Minnesota assistant GM George Paton turned the Jets down for an interview, the third time he has done so.
Kelly, however, is believed to be more in the mix for a job under Douglas in the New York personnel department.
Many Eagles fans are hoping the highly-regarded Douglas, currently Philadelphia's VP of player personnel, would balk at the job because of the perceived dysfunction in New York but a separate source told 973espn.com that Douglas wants to exit the NovaCare Complex because he believes Philadelphia is tilting more and more toward analytics when it comes to player personnel while his expertise remains in old-school scouting methods.
Former league executive Mike Lombardi expressed a similar sentiment on his GM Shuffle Podcast when discussing the Jets' GM opening.
"Everybody tells me it’s Joe Douglas," Lombardi said. "I mean, look, Joe Douglas — he’s going to have options. Well, Joe Douglas wants to leave Philly. I don’t think Joe Douglas is really that comfortable in Philadelphia in this current setup. The Eagles are going really extensively — they hired [vice president of football operations] Andrew Berry. They’re going to go really with the analytics."
Jeffrey Lurie's recent visit with The Athletic also hinted at that direction.
“It’s about batting average,” Lurie told Sheil Kapadia. “If the NFL hits on 50 percent of its first-round picks, and you can hit on 55 percent, you have an advantage. If you’re gonna hit on 35 percent, you have a disadvantage, or whatever the numbers are for all of this.”
Berry, a former Sashi Brown lieutenant in Cleveland, was brought in by the Eagles earlier this year as VP of football operations, a newly created position at the feet of the executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman.
Berry's reputation from a source in Cleveland takes on an analytic bent and he had a significant role when it comes to that part of the equation with the Eagles. However, Berry spent three seasons in Cleveland when Brown brought him in to oversee their personnel department, with his job described "as helps lead all talent evaluation efforts for the club, including college prospects and NFL free agents,” according to the Browns media guide.
Before arriving in Cleveland, Berry, a Harvard grad with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in computer science, worked for the Indianapolis Colts for seven years, starting as a scouting assistant before being promoted to a pro scout and ultimately pro scouting coordinator for his final four years there. On the field, Berry started all four years for the Crimson at cornerback and was All-Ivy League three times.
Now, listen to Lombardi's take on what's going on:
"I think [the Eagles are] going to do both. I think they’re going to have an analytic department and have an old school personnel department and see if they can bridge the two gaps."
Berry was brought in to be the bridge with the knowledge that Douglas was ultimately going to get a GM job somewhere whether it was sooner rather than later.
The smart money is now on sooner, however.
Douglas and Gase worked together in Chicago during the 2015 season when Gase was the Bears' offensive coordinator and Douglas was the director of college scouting and got along very well, not exactly a common occurrence when Gase is in the equation.
"I don’t think Joe Douglas is sitting there [in the NovaCare Complex], singing kumbaya every single day in the office," Lombardi assessed.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen