As the final seven weeks of the season melt mercifully away, Eagles fans won’t even be able to find solace in the hope that by next fall there will be a new regime in place that is capable of assembling a winning plan. Last week’s revelation that owner Jeffrey Lurie quietly signed GM/bean counter Howie Roseman to a contract extension before the season assured that.
If Lurie does cut Andy Reid loose, and Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys pushed the Eagles’ overlord closer to that inevitability, Roseman’s entrenched status should not fill fans with the confidence the team will be able to turn its fortunes around any time soon. Roseman’s track record as a drafter and his lack of experience as a full-fledged personnel director, give the Eagles little chance of creating a new culture that can push the franchise toward true Super Bowl contention.
And, don’t kid yourself; this team needs a complete personality switch. The Eagles are playing uninspired, sloppy ball and seem to get worse every week. Reid said it best toward the end of Sunday night’s post-game press conference.
“We made too many mistakes,” he said. “They were different than the week before.”
In other words, this team is finding new ways to screw up every game. That’s as good an indication as there is that this franchise’s culture is damaged substantially, and the only way to fix it–if Lurie chooses to do so–is by starting at the top and building from there. There is little chance fans will feel good about next season if the Eagles keep Roseman in place as a reminder of the failures of the past two seasons and give him the ability to chart the franchise’s next course. In fact, it would be practically disastrous.
It’s bad enough that the Eagles’ last few drafts have been mediocre, at best. Add in the fact that veteran acquisitions like Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Demetress Bell have been uninspiring, and it’s no wonder news that Roseman had been extended hit an already-staggering Eagles fan base like a knockout punch. Roseman may have gathered front office experience during his tenure in Philadelphia, but he did so at the feet of Reid, hardly the best teacher. Giving him responsibility for starting over might make fans pine for, gulp, Joe Banner.
This is nothing personal against Roseman. It’s just that with the most important decisions of recent Eagles decision waiting to be made, entrusting a relative football greenhorn with the job of hiring a new coach and making the necessary personnel decisions is irresponsible. Lurie must understand that from both public relations and football angles, any change must be thorough. He can’t get rid of Reid and keep Roseman. The past two seasons have proven that those two cannot get it done. Keeping either of them would not be good for business.
Not that there is a guarantee Lurie will fire Reid. Remember that. No matter how bad things seem now, it would be easy for the owner to use the crippling offensive line injuries as a convenient excuse to keep the coach. He could also remember how much the success Reid has enjoyed during parts of his tenure has contributed to the huge rise in value of the Eagles franchise. Owners are bottom line guys, and when a coach helps your asset reach $1.26 billion in worth, you tend to have a level of appreciation for him.
All that said, after watching his team lose for the fifth straight time, something that has never happened on Reid’s watch, make a variety of mistakes and fall further from the vicinity of reasonable playoff consideration, it’s hard to imagine Lurie’s not making a move. The question is whether he will go the distance and create a brand new leadership model or try to let Roseman do it for him.
That would be a big mistake. And though one would consider Lurie smart enough to avoid such errors, remember that he extended Roseman’s deal knowing full well that another poor season by the Eagles would force him to sever ties with Reid. By giving Roseman a new contract, Lurie was telling his baby-faced GM that he felt confident Roseman could handle the transition. He may be the only one in Philadelphia who believes that.
Instead of relying on Roseman, Lurie could find a proven lieutenant in some of the top front offices in the NFL. Go for Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta. Or John Dorsey of Green Bay. Look at the Giants’ Kevin Abrams or Nick Caserio of New England. They have learned the job under some great personnel minds, and they are ready to run teams. We have seen what Roseman can do, and it isn’t pretty. Eagles fans had better hope Lurie doesn’t fear eating Roseman’s deal in the name of a fresh start, because if he does, any excitement that could be generated by Reid’s ouster could be diminished greatly by the stale aroma of past failure.
- A couple of weeks ago, I implored Phillies GM Ruben Amaro to refrain from any consideration of taking on Alex Rodriguez, if the Yankees offered him around. Now, I am begging Amaro not to consider Texas free agent Josh Hamilton. There have been some whispers that the Phils might be interested, and that would be a mistake. Hamilton is too expensive, too risky and also quite high maintenance. When everything is going well, he’s a star of the highest magnitude. But he wants too much money and could explode into a giant mess if his past demons take hold of him. Don’t be enticed, Ruben. Stay away.
- NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr says he “doesn’t see a path to an agreement” in the labor dispute between his group and the league’s owners. Well, look harder, Don. Your intractability, coupled with the owners’ historic hard-line outlook, is threatening a season. The NHL had better face facts that it’s not that popular, especially here in the U.S. Continued tough-guy tactics could ruin the league.
- In an Eastern Conference that looks as wide-open as could be (after the Heat, of course), the Sixers have the chance to gather some steam during a long homestand that begins tonight against the stumbling Bucks. Last year, a great start helped the Sixers secure a playoff berth. This season, it could get them homecourt advantage and a high seed. Even without Andrew Bynum, the Sixers took three straight on the road. They’re not a juggernaut, but they’re certainly good enough to beat most of the East.