Wanna Fly Like An Eagle

Me at Super Bowl




GORDONVILLE — I was never big believer in the “no news is good news” adage. In my life experience, “no news” means I’m probably in the “pay him no mind” file of “the man.”

In this case, “the man” is Eagles head honcho Jeffery Lurie.

During a press conference a few month backs, Lurie threw out a bit of a hand grenade to keep the Howie Roseman haters from advancing. He did this by stating a third person would be added to the team’s player personnel mix.

The antennae shot out of my head like a pop tart from a toaster.

When you have been on the planet for 50 years, you develop a pretty good sense of self. There are certain things I know was not put on earth to do.

Among them, for example, would be building my own house with my own hands or trying to “sing” the songs I write.

Flip side, though, are the things I was put on earth to do. Among them was to be a doting daddy to a little girl, be a caring pet owner and someone who – when boxed into a corner – can write his way out of a paper bag.

Another would be something in football, preferably as a beat writer or a player personnel person.

You can only take my word for it – and I like to think my word is my calling card – that if the Eagles had followed my advice over the years, whether in the draft or free agency, they would have been considerably better off than they ended up being.

Maybe, just maybe, we’d have a Super Bowl banner hanging at The Linc alongside all those bittersweet NFC East championship flags.

Armed with this knowledge, I had my people talk to Lurie’s people to set up an interview.

Nothing back. Not a word.

Guess it’s not happening.

And at this rate, one has to wonder if the hire – no matter who it is – is going to happen as free agency commences and draft preparation kicks into high gear.

So, instead, I feel free to take my case to you – the few and proud members of my adoring public.

You can decide if you’d rather have me – or some oft-concussed ex-player or some recycled guy with a long record of mediocrity – as part of the brain trust.

We’ll start with the current state of the Birds, as they lead us through yet another period of transition in the wake of Chip Kelly being vetted as a false messiah before the completion of three full seasons, and then to the path I point them toward if Mr. Lurie’s people would just return my people’s phone calls.

First and foremost, if Roseman wasn’t fully vindicated – after being labeled as a “non-football guy” – by Kelly’s public flogging, he should be close to there after the offseason he has had so far.

Roseman, though, seems to be at his best when there is a new coach – like Kelly in his first year coming from the college ranks and now Doug Pederson as a long-time assistant (and head coach at the high school level) – not feeling comfortable enough to impose his “football guy” will upon him.

The hurdle here will be the same. To maintain a cohesive relationship between the personnel people and their staff of scouts and the head coach and his coaches, a voice of reason will be needed.

I know Lurie loves models, and if he had the grace to give me a formal interview, I would point to the old Princeton offense – before the days of the shot clock – of Pete Carril.

If that seemed to get mileage, I would double-down with the “be quick but don’t hurry” approach – proven effective not only to sports, but to business and life in general – of UCLA legend John Wooden.

It would be more than just words, though, as the mistake in the past – and I can point to instances, obvious and otherwise – where “being quick” was working and “hurrying” screwed it up. Related to that would be times when short-term thinking skewed long-term vision.

Hip-checking Roseman out of the way after two seasons when the players he was supplying Kelly won 20 regular-season games and a division title after a rock-bottom ending to the Andy Reid era – when the lack of long-term thinking that it had run its course a few seasons earlier set the organization back – is an example.

Roseman should be allowed to do his thing, and I would make it clear that I would not be looking to interfere.

What is Roseman’s thing? Setting the team well to move forward, with salary cap space, at a critical time like we are now entering.

He already has targeted, and extended, the right players to build around. Quarterback Sam Bradford, on a team-friendly deal, garnered most of the headlines. However, don’t forget tackle Lane Johnson and tight end Zach Ertz or defensive end Vinnie Curry and fellow pass-rusher Brandon Graham, who will likely move to defensive end in the new-look 4-3 scheme of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Roseman also kept safety Malcolm Jenkins, who played in the Pro Bowl as an alternate, in the nest with a new contract.

Now comes the scary part: How to fill out the rest of the roster with an estimate 17 million with which to work?

This is where I would come in, not as an expert, but as a coordinator and courier between all involved.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll give my opinion, which would pretty much be to move on from the other unsigned free agents and get back the Day 2 draft pick – the one that the “football guy” threw away like an ice cream wrapper on the beach in Ocean City – by trading down from No. 13 in the draft (unless a top-10 talent falls) – to somewhere before pick 20.

But I would understand that my two cents might not even buy lunch.

Roseman’s record here has been more, well, inconsistent. It is where the Princeton-style cohesion between the personnel people and scouts and coaches needs to be tightened up.

If they need a point guard, I could do it.

And it was where they need to be mindful and not getting caught in the trap of hurrying when be quick and decisive will maintain long-term vision over short-term fixes.

If they need someone handy with quotes from the Book of Wooden, I could do it. I can also be the friend in the room that Roseman may have lacked before.

Sure, it’s easy to rip Roseman to shreds for some draft flops – like first-rounders Danny Watkins, an uninspired college tackle turned guard who is now in his native Canada working as a firefighter, and linebacker Marcus Smith, who lingers on the roster after showing some semblance of a pulse last season in the one game after Kelly was gone.

The way I see it, as an outsider trying very hard to read between the lines for my Eagles’-loving lifetime, was that Roseman was less responsible for the pick of Watkins (it was Roseman’s first year in the draft war room and Reid had long-since had final say there, and it was his call to let offensive line coach Howard Mudd hand-pick a player as a gift for coming out of retirement to join the staff), but is more to blame for Smith.

To what degree it was his call, we’ll never know. He has fallen on his sword for both.

And if that is considered fair, then he needs to be lauded for drafting Johnson and Ertz and Jason Kelce in the fifth round and trading a cutting-block rookie free agent running back, David Fluellen, for a rookie kicker who made the Pro Bowl in Cody Parkey.

And the drafts in the Kelly era has so many mediocre players from Oregon, or other PAC-12 schools, that it is hard to keep a straight face and say that it was all Roseman. Maybe he had final say, but his fault was trying to magnanimous and defer more to Kelly and his assistants than to the scouts who study this stuff all year.

I have always had my doubts that Roseman is actually breaking down film of college prospects or currently NFL free agents.

If he is, he needs to stop.

I wouldn’t be doing that, either, if hired.

Let’s target the best scouts we can and let them do their jobs. Take that information and form a plan of attack, whether it is for the draft/free agency or how to do with what remains on the roster.

He has strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps, as another “non-football” guy – unless Friday afternoon rough-touch games against the same group of African-American kids (it was not as horrible, though filled with trash talk, than it sounds) counts as playing experience – we can speak the same language and fill gaps.

I have dealt with coaches, especially football coaches, my whole life. If Howie turns them off, maybe I won’t. I could carry and deliver that mail to the main office.

And I would do it quickly, without hurrying.

This column also appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com

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