Eagles Wake Up Call: Lurie And the Changing Power Structure
Below is an excerpt from my Eagles Almanac chapter exploring whether Jeffrey Lurie has been firm enough when it comes to the organizational power structure. If you haven’t done so already, click here to purchase this year’s edition of the Almanac.
Steve Tisch was enjoying a much more tranquil experience at the Arizona Biltmore. Strolling by the same spot where Lurie would be grilled a day later, the co-owner of the Giants casually made his way towards the hotel for lunch, stopping in the shade for a casual talk about cheesesteaks and power structures with a loitering reporter.
In a 2013 piece titled “Who’s Really in Charge?” NFL.com’s Albert Breer noted that the Giants’ model has remained largely unchanged since 1979. The general manager heads the football operations (draft, 53-man roster, etc.) while the coach has authority over the game day roster and the coaching staff. “The goal, ultimately,” writes Breer, “is to have an agenda-free building with a number of different people invested in the final product and meaningful delegation of responsibilities.”
“Is it unique to the other 31 clubs? Maybe. Actually, I hope so,” said Tisch. “Because if it’s working and it’s been working for going on four decades, that’s fantastic.
“I think ownership has created a very clear organizational chart and a very clear ownership and management style which does work and seems to continue to work. It’s very defined and internally seems very fair and very successful and produces great results.”
How difficult is it to stay true to those philosophies over a sustained period of time?
“I think what’s beneficial to us is that the sort of ownership and corporate philosophy is not criticized or challenged by the GM or by the head coach. It’s, if anything, supported. So if a business philosophy is supported at that top executive level and the ownership level, it can be very effective. And to feel that support, to know that Tom Coughlin supports this ownership style, [general manager] Jerry Reese supports it. The other coaches support it, the players support it, the staff supports it, it’s great. I’m not saying we’re not looking all the time at, can we improve this? Can we do this differently? Should we be looking at this? We’re in an age where somebody sneezes in Dallas and we can hear it a second later in East Rutherford. But it’s really paying attention and it’s about dialogue and communication, certainly between me and [owner] John [Mara] and I feel like if Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese walk by and you ask them what their perspective is, hopefully they’ll tell you the same thing.
“Someone once gave me a great line: ‘The definition of the word trust is consistency over time.’ So that may apply here.”
Of course, there are many different set-ups across the league that have proven successful, as well as examples where ownership flexibility has paid serious dividends.
Look no further than New England.
The Boston Globe wrote an interesting story exploring why Pete Carroll’s stint as the Patriots head coach fell short of expectations. Bogged down by some burdensome contracts left over from the Bill Parcells era, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was reluctant to give Carroll the type of creative control that he was looking for. The power was instead given to vice president of player personnel Bobby Grier.
“It could have been all of the right decisions for another coach; it wasn’t for me,” said Carroll. “It didn’t work with the stuff that I needed to do. That’s where it became so clear, with how I needed to do it next time, if I would ever get a chance again.”
He got what he was looking for in Seattle, and has back-to-back Super Bowl appearances to show for it. The experience benefitted the Patriots as well, turns out.
“I’m not sure when he was here I gave him enough support in the personnel area,” Kraft said. “I had been so burned by my first experience, and so you learn. Sometimes in life and business or relationships, it’s where you catch someone…
“The experience with Parcells and Carroll really helped me in my decision with Belichick. Because I sort of had two extremes, and then I had a balance. I still kept the personnel separate when I originally hired Bill Belichick, but then over time, he earned his way in.
“I think in fairness to Pete, if I had given him more access, he would have done better. He was right in a lot of the things he said.”
Click here to purchase your copy of the Eagles Almanac.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Chip Kelly better know what he’s doing.” The national media weighs in on the Eagles turbulent offseason.
Zach Ertz is putting in the work to become a top-tier tight end.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank of CSN Philly thinks Eagles RB coach Duce Staley could become an NFL head coach some day:
Duce is the only coach remaining from Andy Reid’s last staff and is going into his third year coaching running backs for Chip Kelly. He spent three years out of football after his career ended following the 2006 season in Pittsburgh, and he’s still only 40 years old. Duce has been so impressive as a position coach. There’s a reason he’s still around. He has tremendous knowledge of the entire offense, he’s a phenomenal motivator and communicator, and he’s very tough on his guys, which brings out the best in them. Another two or three big years for Eagles running backs and Duce will deserve a shot at an offensive coordinator job. If he’s in the right situation and has the kind of success I expect he will, don’t be shocked if Duce Staley one day becomes an NFL head coach. Imagine that.
Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation is hopeful that Marcus Smith can fill Brandon Graham‘s role from a year ago:
Now that Cole is gone, Graham has been promoted from his bench role to being a full-time starter. It’s really up to Smith to replace Graham’s rotational role, unless Travis Long somehow wins the job over him.
Graham played 323 snaps in 2013, which was 26.8% of the team’s total defensive snaps. In 2014, that figure rose to 499 snaps, which was 43.1% of the total. I would think Smith’s playing time will be closer to what Graham saw in 2013. Set the over/under at 290.5.
Twelve days until camp.