Coach doesn't matter until Eagles fix disastrous front office


The problem isn’t Doug Pederson. The Eagles could have hired anybody to replace Chip Kelly. It wouldn’t matter. Until owner Jeff Lurie gives his front office a complete makeover, the Eagles are not going to be a championship team.

It’s that simple.

For a long, long time I really believed that Lurie was doing everything possible to build an elite team. He spent as much money as anybody on top free agents. He built a state-of-the-art practice facility. He delivered a truly remarkable stadium. He filled the coaching and scouting departments with the most talented people he could find.

The front office model that led to the Eagles becoming one of the NFL’s winningest teams from 2000 though 2009 was Andy Reid as head coach, Joe Banner running all franchise operations and a general manager in either Tom Modrak or Tom Heckert who had a varying degree of power.

That model worked wonders. Only the Colts and Patriots won more games during that 10-year span, and only the Patriots won more playoff games. During that stretch, the Eagles won 10 playoff games. Since that stretch, they’ve won none.

The franchise’s decline directly follows Howie Roseman’s rise to power.

Roseman has been general manager since 2010, minus last year, when Chip Kelly had the power. These have been dark days, filled with coaching turnover, quarterback instability, poor to average drafts and free agency catastrophes.

And precisely zero playoff wins.

Roseman is one of the most curious people to ever work for the Eagles. His track record is spotty, but he has Lurie convinced he’s some sort of boy wonder who can do no wrong. Lurie even fired Banner, his closest friend, in order to give Roseman even more power.

I predicted a couple weeks ago that the top coaching candidates would reject the Eagles because people league-wide just don’t want to work with Roseman. And here we are two weeks later with a guy coaching the Eagles who seven years ago was a high school coach in Louisiana.

This is such an unhealthy way to run a football team, and it’s not conducive to winning.

The Eagles desperately need an infusion of young talent to turn around a seven-year stretch in which they’ve gone 0-3 in the postseason, losing twice at home.

But there’s nobody in the organization capable of identifying the type of talent the Eagles need. 

It’s not a coincidence when a team goes this long without accomplishing anything. Poor drafting, weak free agent acquisitions, bad coaching hires all contribute to it, and without a smart, aggressive general manager with an eye for talent, the Eagles will continue to float adrift, essentially irrelevant.

Lurie is a smart guy. I’ve been around him for more than two decades. I’m convinced he genuinely wants more than anything to bring an NFL championship to Philly. I just don’t think he knows how to do it.

And his blind spot for Roseman is truly baffling.

“Everybody knows Howie is holding back the organization,” an NFL front-office executive said earlier this week. “Everybody but one person. And that person is the only one who matters. Jeffrey Lurie. He just doesn’t see it.”

Roseman oversaw the coaching search along with Lurie and team president Don Smolenski — not a football person in sight — and it was clear early on that anybody who had ever as much as exchanged an annoyed glance with Howie just wouldn’t be contacted. It almost seemed like the No. 1 qualification was being able to co-exist with Howie.

They weren’t looking for someone who understands offense or knows defense or possesses leadership techniques or coaching experience or motivational ability.

No, a guy who could get along with Howie.

How else do you explain the Eagles' hiring Pederson, a very nice guy, who has had all of seven years of coaching experience beyond high school?

What exactly are his qualifications? He’s never had a top-20 offense in three years in K.C., and his quarterbacks in two years as Reid’s QB coach were mediocre at best.

But this isn’t really about Pederson, who is a bright, articulate, well-liked guy. It’s about Lurie and his front office. Because without an effective front office, Pederson simply doesn’t have a chance. No coach would.

Do you think Reid wins anything without Donovan and Trott and Dawk and Tra and Duce and Lito and Sheldon and Brian Westbrook and Corey Simon?

Those players didn’t just materialize out of nowhere. Every one of them was drafted here between 1996 and 2002.

That’s eight all-time Eagles greats, and right now there’s one all-time Eagles great on the roster: Fletcher Cox.

Without playmakers, no coach is winning here. Not Big Red, not Chip, not Buck Shaw.

And without a front office acutely capable of identifying elite playmakers on both sides of the ball, we’re just going to end up with more of the same.

The Eagles are one of only 11 NFL teams that hasn’t won a playoff game the last seven years, and Lurie has to understand it’s not a coincidence. It’s not the result of bad luck or bad breaks or bad bounces.

He’s got to take a long hard look at himself and his blind trust in Roseman. He’s got to rebuild the front office so a proven general manager has final say over personnel decisions, and Howie is assigned to what he’s really good at — contracts, salary cap, executing trades.

Only then will this team have a realistic chance of doing something special. Only then will this team have a realistic chance of being something special.

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