Eagles Wake-Up Call: Lurie Vs. Banner Intensifies

When Jeffrey Lurie addressed the media earlier this week, much was made about his ringing endorsement of general manager Howie Roseman.

“I keep voluminous notes on talent evaluation on not just who we draft, but who is valued in each draft by each person that is in the organization that’s working here,” Lurie said. “I came to the conclusion that the person that was providing by far the best talent evaluation in the building was Howie Roseman. I decided to streamline the whole decision-making process for the 2012 draft and offseason and that’s the first draft and offseason I hold Howie completely accountable for.”

The obvious follow-up question was this: If Roseman wasn’t responsible for the 2011 draft, which netted Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett with the first two picks, then who was?

“I want to take a much higher road than that and just say that I’ve had to really go through exactly everyone’s talent evaluations and realized that we needed a real streamlining of the process,” Lurie said.

Some assumed he was referring to Andy Reid. But the better guess is he was talking about Joe Banner.

Remember, Lurie has the scorecard. He’s one of only a handful of people who knows which members of the organization were responsible for the decisions that have the Eagles where they are today – a team that just finished 4-12 and is 12-20 in the past two seasons.

So it’s important to look at actions as much as words. After last year’s 8-8 campaign, Banner was shown the door. And check out what the former Eagles president said about his involvement in the draft in Cleveland.

“I will be one of the four or five people in that room,” Banner told the Plain-Dealer. “I’ll have a voice. In some instances, it will go through me, but our goal is always to drive a consensus. That’s always been my role as it related to the football part of the operations.”

Sounds like someone who perhaps had lost his voice at his previous stop.

It’s certainly plausible that Roseman got overruled by Banner and Reid at times. Should the GM get a free pass? Of course not. That would suggest he’s just been sitting at his desk filling out crossword puzzles for the last three years. But he did have two decision-makers with more power above him.

And remember, Lurie has shown in the past year that he’s willing to cut ties with people who are not getting the job done. Part of this is definitely to put a positive spin on the future of the franchise. But Lurie has no clear motivation to give Roseman more power unless he thinks the GM can help him win. Couldn’t he just as easily have said, “We’re a 4-12 team. No one has done their job well, but we still think Howie has a bright future.”

The answer is yes, but he decided to offer a much stronger endorsement.

Going forward, it should come as no surprise that Lurie and Banner (now in Cleveland) are targeting the same candidates. They have been through this dance together with both Ray Rhodes and then Reid. They both know what they’re looking for and are highly motivated to find a great leader.

Yesterday, we found out both teams had already interviewed Bill O’Brien before he decided to go back to Penn State. That news is noteworthy, but perhaps more interesting is how the news got out. No one knew the Browns had interviewed O’Brien until about 6:30 last night. No one knew the Eagles had interviewed him until after O’Brien announced he was returning to Happy Valley.

The battle is very much on.

Now the attention shifts to Oregon coach Chip Kelly. The Browns are expected to interview him today. And the Eagles will reportedly talk to him before Sunday when they travel to Denver to meet with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Can’t you just picture the scene in Glendale, Ariz.? Banner and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam having lunch with Kelly at some upscale restaurant. Lurie and Roseman sitting at the bar with fake mustaches and glasses on, holding newspapers in front of their faces as they spy on their competition.

After a season filled with tired storylines, things are about to get interesting around here. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Bill O’Brien is staying put as the head coach of the Nittany Lions.

Peyton Manning says Mike McCoy is ready to be a head coach.

You can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

Eagles center Jason Kelce is not concerned about being effective in a new scheme next year.

Tim weighs in on the Eagles’ character problem.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Kelly addressed his future after Oregon’s 35-17 Fiesta Bowl win. From Les Bowen of the Daily News:

Asked by the Daily News if he has an impression of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, from Roseman’s scouting trips to Oregon, Kelly said: “I can’t do an impression of him. I’ve met Howie twice. He was here a couple of years ago and I think he was here in September — my interaction with those guys is really, 5, 10 minutes – ’these are the players you might want to look at.’ ”

It would have been pretty cool if Kelly did launch into a Roseman impression.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com looks at the Eagles’ options for replacing Reid:

Philadelphia will look at a variety of candidates. They would be a nice fit for Chip Kelly, who would allow the Eagles to give Michael Vick one final shot in an offense that could play to his strengths. If they follow the head coaching maxim, they would follow the Reid era by targeting a defensive-minded disciplinarian, which would lead them toward Cowher or Lovie Smith. I think whoever they hire will be a short-term upgrade on Reid, just by virtue of bringing in some fresh ideas and new motivational tactics to a group of players who had been used to the Reid Way. In the long-term, though, it’s going to be very difficult for the Eagles to find somebody who represents an upgrade on their departed head coach.

COMING UP

Nothing scheduled, lots to cover. That’s how it’ll be around here for awhile.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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