If you’ve never felt more disillusioned about the Philadelphia Eagles, well, I’d say it’s hard to blame you. I’ve been there for some time now.
This is an organization that’s been on the decline ever since lifting their first Vince Lombardi Trophy and they haven’t been fully honest with themselves about why they’ve fallen from grace.
The Eagles’ actions would have you believe that moving on from Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz while keeping the front office in tact will help right the ship.
But the reality is that big issues remain. And, to no surprise, Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are chief among them. As is the culture they’ve created.
A new joint-report from The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, Bo Wulf, and Zach Berman shines light on the Eagles’ internal dysfunction. I strongly recommend reading the entire article but we’ll touch on some highlights here.
Starting with how the Eagles’ championship success has been viewed as more of catching lightning in a bottle than being an extremely deserved result:
“The fact that Doug had the success he did with all the shit going on in the building, sometimes I look at our Super Bowl rings, and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, I don’t know how we did it,’” one source said.
“All the shit” here refers to internal disconnect between factions such as the scouting department and analytics staff. It’s not like anyone is realistically expecting a perfectly harmonious workplace but there are serious questions about people in this organization pulling all in the same direction.
Coaches wanted their evaluations taken into account or felt like certain players were forced upon them, scouts didn’t understand why picks didn’t correspond with an established methodology, and other staffers were unsure how their analysis was being applied in decisions. Departments became siloed — or even pitted against each other — and the lack of collaboration made finger-pointing easier. “Building that coalition and leading that group to work together in a constructive way is not Howie’s strength,” one source said. “In fact, it’s one of his weaknesses.”
Another thing that stood out was this quote about Roseman:
Those close to Roseman believe he was sincere in his effort to improve his interpersonal skills in the wake of his expulsion. He talks often about carrying with him the lessons from that time. But over the course of the past few years, as the team’s success waned, sources say some of Roseman’s worst instincts have returned.
“My best analogy of that would be when people lose weight and there’s the boomerang effect,” said one source. “They lose a lot of weight and then they gain it all back and then some. That’s how I would describe that.”
At the heart of Roseman’s weaknesses is an obsession with the way he’s portrayed, and that plays into his management style.
The idea behind the quote here is something I’ve previously thought about a lot. I think Roseman was legitimately humbled after his exile in 2015. But then the hubris returned after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. This much is something Joe Santoliquito also touched on when I talked to him back in February:
“I think what happened to Howie, from two major NFL people, one that used to be a former employee of the Eagles, is that when they won the Super Bowl … best thing and worst thing to happen to Howie. And you know exactly where I’m going with this. Best thing, because he helped put this team together. He helped with Joe Douglas, Joe Douglas had a major part of that. But Howie deserves credit for that. So that’s the good, that’s the best thing. The worst thing is that Howie began to think he was a hell of a lot smarter than he actually is in terms of seeing and determining what talent is. And it’s a matter of knowing your place. And maybe Howie needs a “No” guy, too. [...] But they also have to turn around, and it’s kind of funny how this has gone in terms of Wentz, again, not being accountable, feeling entitled, a twitch of arrogance — you can easily turn around and say that about the Eagles organization. And the way they’ve handled things since the Super Bowl. ‘We’re the big guys on the block. Get out of our way.’ Again, I know people from other teams. Assistant coaches. Coaches. Players. It’s more than just the fan base that the NFL doesn’t like here. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles. And it’s a little bit of Howie Roseman. Howie’s respected, to a point. But he’s also … but I’ll just say, maybe behind a few closed doors, he’s someone that people pull a little snicker-snicker and just, like, ‘Really? This guy’s a bit of a clown here. A little bit too much Johnny Big Time.’ When that Super Bowl trophy came about and he raised it up in his hands and suddenly he thinks of himself of the next coming as Vince Lombardi. They all need, they ALL need to take a step back. They’re not going to listen to a schmo like me. But they need to take a look in the mirror and look at this mess that they created. They created by entitling, by giving entitlement to a quarterback that helped ruin this situation. And they can turn around behind closed doors and whisper Wentz this, Wentz that. And by the way, you’ll start to hear those things. And don’t be surprised if those stories start to come out a little bit more and people are more bolder about going on the record with some things. Don’t be surprised if that starts to leak out. But they have to take a look at themselves and look at the mess that THEY have created. They may point a finger at Wentz being uncoachable, not accountable, arrogant. But they have been the same thing. Mr. Lurie and Mr. Roseman have not exactly been accountable to themselves. And we see that in the reflection of a 4-11-1 season. And they only have themselves to blame for all this.”
There are always going to be those who will downplay these reports and claim it’s sensationalized material to “get clicks” (spolier: it’s not). That these concerns are overblown and the Eagles will be fine. And, you know what? Maybe they will be if they really nail the Nick Sirianni hire and figure out the quarterback position.
But it seems pretty possible that more struggles will be on the way if internal dysfunction continues to persist. And the calls for significant front office changes will only grow louder.