McMullen: Eagles Must Catch Dysfunction Early
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There are stages to NFL dysfunction and like any cancer the deeper you let any discord go, the more likely it will become fatal to the top people on the football side of any organization.
In Philadelphia, that's general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson, who are both less than two years off ending a nearly 60-year championship drought and giving the fan base what it so desperately wanted, a Super Bowl LII championship and the Lombardi Trophy.
In a short-attention-span culture, the dispensation for that has been laughably short, at least for some of the more dramatic critics who weaponize sports-talk calls like modern-day torches and pitchforks.
The Eagles are still in Stage 1 of typical NFL dysfunction, the scapegoat phase and the team sacrificed Mack Hollins to the vocal minority searching for its pound of flesh on Tuesday.
It was a meaningless gesture because Hollins should have never even made the 53-man roster back in September after being outplayed by more than one receiver who didn't make it at the time because of lesser pedigrees. From there Hollins' lack of production was almost comical in the wake of injuries.
That said, moving on from Hollins in Week 14 of what could be shaping up as a lost season is the definition of too little, too late especially when so many in the organization shielded him for so long despite what was obvious to even the most casual of fans.
History will record that Hollins simply served as the first scapegoat in what will ultimately claim other players and almost certainly some position coaches and perhaps even offensive coordinator Mike Groh to protect those at the top.
And that's where the focus should shift.
If Roseman and Pederson start butting heads all of a sudden the Eagles will be in a far deeper stage of dysfunction.
To date, Pederson hasn't complained about poor personnel decisions and would likely never do so on the record. Off it is another story and the ship hasn't developed any leaks to this point other than the clear unhappiness from the defensive staff and players that Roseman chose a likely fourth-round compensatory pick over veteran safety Andrew Sendejo.
Pederson himself has been an interesting case study in ego, or lack thereof. Despite winning the Super Bowl he has not politicked for more personnel power turning away from the Bill Parcells "if you want me to cook the dinner, let me buy the groceries" mindset. However, it's conceivable Pederson hasn't moved for a greater say in personnel because as a first-time head coach he didn't have the cachet early and after he gained the weight he had the personnel to succeed or was perceived to at least.
Now that Pederson doesn't have the bullets his goal may change especially now that Roseman's top man on the personnel side has shifted from Joe Douglas to the less accomplished Andy Weidl.
There's also the Jim Schwartz wild card because, despite Duce Staley possessing the title, the real assistant head coach in Philadelphia is the veteran defensive coordinator who is in control of his fiefdom.
Remember back after the 2016 season when Mike Lombardi laughably called Pederson the least-qualified NFL coach in history, some pointed fingers at Schwartz because of a prior relationship.
Schwartz carries himself like a head coach but has always deferred to Pederson and Roseman in public when it comes to coaching and personnel decisions respectively. He's also well versed when it comes to playing hardball behind the scenes, however.
Flip on C-Span today and you will see how quickly politics can get ugly.
There's no difference from Washington D.C. and any performance-based business and the road ahead is going to be tricky for Jeffrey Lurie and those intent on currying favor with him.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen