Eagles Wake-Up Call: Leftovers From the Owners Meetings
A few takeaways from three days at the owners meetings:
— Strolling down one of the grand hallways at the opulent Boca Raton Resort & Club following Tuesday’s media session with Jeffrey Lurie, we ran into Chip Kelly and said a quick hello. Parted ways, walked a few more paces and bumped into Howie Roseman. A couple more, and there was Don Smolenski. One after the other after the other. The whole gang, back together again.
Same universe maybe, but Kelly and the Eagles are on separate planets now, and both parties seem just fine with that. Lurie sounds confident that dropping Kelly, empowering Roseman and rolling with the emotionally intelligent Doug Pederson was the way to go. And, judging by his comments, Kelly will not miss the awkward front-office dynamic that existed in Philadelphia and is enthusiastic about the opportunity before him with the Niners.
Now is the time for optimism, but there are questions facing both coach and organization alike. For the Eagles: are they truly better off with Pederson? Did they rid themselves of the problem, or do the larger issues remain in-house? And for Kelly: is he walking into an equally (if not more) volatile situation in San Francisco? And do the Niners have enough talent to give him a realistic chance to compete in the NFC West and sustain his NFL career?
There are no guarantees that either side has moved onto more fertile ground by heading in opposite directions. That said, my time in Boca reaffirmed the fact that a split was necessary.
There were no signs that the light bulb had flipped on inside either house. Kelly doesn’t appear inclined to change his ways — at least based off his public comments. (He rejected the idea that his offense had become predictable Wednesday and seemed to think the player backlash in Philly was isolated and not representative of a flaw in approach.) Lurie, for his part, doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with his handling of the situation over the last year-plus, which makes you wonder how clear his vision is at the moment. Just not enough recognition and accountability in there to clear a path toward a healthy state.
It wasn’t that long ago when the pair appeared to be on the verge of something pretty special, but the foundation proved weak and promise slipped down into dysfunction pretty quick. We were reminded over the last several days how that happened, and why a long-term partnership wasn’t the answer even if they both struggle more in the short-term as a result of the divorce.
— A bunch of rule changes came down this week, including one that puts the ball at the 25-yard line following a touchback instead of the 20 for this upcoming season. That rule in theory is to incentivize teams further not to take the ball out of the end zone, as the NFL wants to all but eliminate the kick return — which they apparently view as the most dangerous play in the sport. However, the new rule might just have the opposite effect. One head coach at the meetings theorized that teams will instruct their kickers to try and boot “pop-ups” deep but in the field of play, thinking that will now give them a chance at better defensive field position than kicking one out of the back of the end zone.
I think that coach is onto something.
— At last year’s owners meetings, Kelly was adamant that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota would come off the board very quickly, and he was obviously right. This time around, he is less certain how it will play out with top QB prospects Carson Wentz and Jared Goff,
“It’s a different group of quarterbacks. You have one kid [Wentz] that’s coming out of I-AA that’s extremely talented and has an unbelievable skill set but people are still trying to figure him out in terms of exactly what he is,” said Kelly. “Not that they’re not going to be as good if not better, there’s just not as much information I guess from watching games against an elite level at the college level.
“I think it’s more intriguing with this group of quarterbacks this year than kind of the clear-cut…you’re just not as sure, but that doesn’t mean that group isn’t really good. If you watch [Wentz] from a skill-set standpoint, the same thing with Jared when you get to see him throw in person, he can really throw the football.”
A little over a month left for teams to finalize their evaluations of these quarterbacks. Kelly and the Niners might just be in the market for one. Sitting a spot ahead of the Eagles, they may be the team that prevents one of the signal-callers from dropping to eight. Of course, Roseman could always just leap-frog his old friend to go grab one of them.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Josh details the Rueben Randle contract and a draft rumor surrounding the Eagles.
“Oh, I don’t know about [drafting a quarterback at 8]. But I know that if you’re looking for that third quarterback, then there’s some good ones in this draft.” More on Pederson’s press conference from the owners meetings.
Kelly talks power structure and other factors that influenced last year’s Eagles campaign.
Josh details two more rule changes that were adopted by the NFL at yesterday’s meetings.
A look at Roseman’s development as an executive through the eyes of Lurie in yesterday’s Wake-Up Call.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski takes a critical look at Kelly’s testimony on the dynamics of last season’s Eagles front office.
In other words, Marynowitz served as a buffer between Kelly and Roseman, which Kelly stated was the intended structure, not because of personal differences between the two. It was set up intentionally that way, according to Kelly, by “the organization,” which is probably better stated as owner Jeffrey Lurie.
So if we’re translating the above into simpler terms, here’s a summary of how Kelly acquired free agents:
• Step 1: Say you want a player.
• Step 2: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
• Step 3: Player shows up to practice, likely with way more money than he deserves.
How could any reasonable human believe this is a structure that could work in any way?
…unless of course Lurie was purposely setting up Kelly for failure, or, you know, if Kelly is lying through his teeth.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com finds Roseman just as culpable for last year’s contract blunders as Kelly.
The decisions to sign Maxwell and Murray proved to be a huge mistake, as both had terrible seasons. Roseman traded Maxwell to the Miami Dolphins and Murray to the Tennssee Titans earlier this month.
The perception that Kelly was to blame for the decisions to hand Maxwell and Murray the massive contracts comes from the fact that he was given full control of the personnel department last offseason, stripping general manager duties from Roseman.
With that in mind, it is hard to completely absolve Kelly of any blame for the disaster that was Maxwell and Murray last season.
What is now also clear, however, is that Roseman holds just as much blame — if not more.
More from our time at the owners meetings.
Asher Dark contributed to this post.