Tom Gamble Joins The Eagles

Posted: February 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 66 Comments »

The Eagles made a really interesting move on Wednesday.  They hired Tom Gamble to be the VP of Player Personnel.  Gamble had worked for the Niners since 2005, as both a college and pro scout.  He’s got a lot of experience and a strong reputation around the league.  This appears to be a great move.

My only hesitation is trying to understand why Gamble would make a lateral move to the Eagles.  He was the Director of Player Personnel in SF and worked closely with GM Trent Baalke.  Gamble had worked his way up the ladder there.  He was talking to the Jags, Jets, and Chargers about their GM openings back in early January.  His interview with the Jets reportedly did not go well.  This could mean that he didn’t do a good job of giving them answers or that he was too blunt and they didn’t like what he had to say.

Per Geoff Mosher’s report, it could be that Gamble wanted to move back to Philly for family reasons.  His father Harry worked for the Eagles in the Buddy Ryan era and Tom still has family in the area.  Tom also worked for the Eagles back then.  Why would SF let Gamble leave?  We can only guess. They do have a strong GM in Baalke. I would imagine Jim Harbaugh is heavily involved in things.  Maybe they’ve got some young guys they’re looking to promote.

Gamble did most of his work in SF on the pro side of things.  He has done plenty of college scouting over the years.  He worked as a college scout for Bill Polian in Indy when that franchise was elite.  Gamble did get more college responsibilities in the last couple of years in SF as they were trying to expand his duties and area of influence.

One thing must be understood here and this ties into the earlier post I did on the Eagles roster.  It wasn’t just great scouting by the Niners that led to their recent success.  It was a marriage of scouting, drafting, and coaching.  Mike Iupati was a 1st round OG.  So was Danny Watkins.  Iupati has played in the NFL for 3 years.  His team has thrown 1,387 passes in those 3 seasons.  Watkins has been an Eagle for just 2 years.  His team has thrown 1,172 passes.  Both guys are gifted run blockers and inconsistent pass blockers.  Which player was put in a better position?  Iupati is a much better player and was a better prospect so I’m not trying to compare them as equals, but the point is that the Niners organization has better symmetry between the scouting, drafting, and coaching sides.  Take players who fit what you do.  Use them in a way that they can thrive.

Too often I think fans assume personnel guys are good or bad evaluators based on how things turn out.  That’s not always the case.  Howie Roseman will get blamed by many for the Jaiquawn Jarrett pick, but I found out in Mobile that he wasn’t the person who made the pick.  I can’t give full details, but you probably can guess who did make the pick.  (No, it wasn’t Kurt Coleman).  Jermane Mayberry looked like a bad pick until Andy Reid got here.  Andy didn’t do anything magical.  He just realized that Mayberry wasn’t meant to play OT so he moved him to RG and Mayberry was right at home for the next several years, even making a Pro Bowl.

Gamble was part of a very good situation in SF.  Things have been somewhat dysfunctional in Philly for the last few years.  Part of that is due to switching systems.  Sean McDermott wanted a hybrid cover LB like Keenan Clayton.  Juan Castillo didn’t seem to have much use for him.  Antonio Dixon was terrific for parts of 2010, but never fit into Jim Washburn’s desire for attacking DL.  And so on.

The Eagles need to stick with some systems for 3 or 4 years, no matter what.  That will give the scouts time to find the players who fit them.  it will give the assistants time to develop the players to play in those systems.  It makes the scouts and guys like Gamble and Howie look a lot smarter.

Howie says that Gamble isn’t here to be a “yes man”.  That’s good news.  I wish Gamble was here in 2011 to tell them the idea of Nnamdi, Asante, and DRC was a disaster waiting to happen.  Chip Kelly and Howie will still control the roster, but you can bet Gamble would not have come here unless he was going to have a vote at the table.  In doing some reading on Gamble, a few people mentioned the fact he’s not in this for glamour or ego.  He’s just a football guy.

I think this is an outstanding move by Howie to add a smart, veteran personnel guy to the mix.  Louis Riddick runs the pro side of things.  Anthony Patch is the head of college scouting.  I think pretty highly of those guys.  Gamble will now be their boss and help each of them.  Because of his background and track record I don’t expect any bruised egos or hurt feelings.  Things might be different if Howie was pushing a buddy or someone who was unqualified.  Gamble and Howie have a professional relationship, but aren’t going to get together to chug beer, eat Funyuns, and listen to Zeppelin bootlegs (which is why I don’t fully trust them).

Howie is very aggressive when it comes to personnel moves.  He’s desperate to get the Eagles to win big.  He wants to do anything in his power to help the team win.  That’s great, but it can lead you to maybe do too much at times.  Gamble might be a good sounding board for him.  Just because a move sounds good in theory doesn’t mean it will work in reality.  Under Gamble’s watch, the Niners made a lot of smart free agent moves.  Some were big, some small.  He had a knack for knowing what the right moves were.  We’re not collecting talent, we’re building a team.  Fit matters.  Get the right guys.

Some people see this hire as a sign that the Eagles are going to really gut the roster.  I’ve already covered that topic.  I don’t think it will happen or that it needs to.  The Eagles were one of the youngest teams in the NFL this year.  The key for the Eagles is identifying who needs to stay and who needs to go.  Gamble will bring an outsider’s perspective and that’s a very good thing.  I hope his first advice to Howie is to get rid of Mr. Grey Poupon, aka Nnamdi.

There will be plenty of roster change, but that’s true every year.  Adding a quality talent evaluator like Gamble can only help as the Eagles make their decisions.

I do think this move says a lot about Howie Roseman.  He hired someone with outstanding credentials.  It would have been easy for Howie to hire a young guy that would be extremely loyal.  Instead, Howie hired the best guy available.  I really don’t think the average fan understands just how bad Howie wants to win.  He’s got veteran personnel guys like Tom Donahoe, Rick Mueller, and Greg Gabriel helping the Eagles prepare for the draft.  Now Gamble will help in FA and the draft.  Howie will do anything he can to help get this team back on track.

Gamble’s SF bio

_


  • SleepingDuck

    ” Howie Roseman will get blamed by many for the Jaiquawn Jarrett pick,
    but I found out in Mobile that he wasn’t the person who made the pick.
    I can’t give full details, but you probably can guess who did make the
    pick.” Andy or Joe?

    • laeagle

      I don’t have Tommy’s info, but it seems pretty plain to me that Watkins and Jarrett both have Reid’s fingerprints all over them. Which is why I find it funny when people blame Howie. Those are such Reid-like picks that they glow neon Reid.

      • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

        I prefer to blame Mudd for the Watkins pick because I like Andy.

      • repski@yahoo.com

        Of course Watkins was…a 26yr old tackle @ Baylor..that we turn into a guard…’cause we are smarter than everyone..

        • http://twitter.com/mannafromkevin Kevin

          Actually, a LOT of college OTs get turned into OGs when they move to the NFL.

          • xeynon

            Yeah, pretty much everyone projected Watkins to go at the end of the first round and be a G in the NFL, and a good one. It looks like we whiffed on that pick, but the FO wasn’t getting too cute or reaching with it. It just hasn’t worked out.

        • Ben Aven

          He would have played guard no matter who drafted him. Not athletic enough to play tackle.

      • Ark87

        Apparently you’re right. But how is it so obvious? Did I miss something? Andy always seemed to be a guy that valued speed and finesse over physicality and size to me. A guy with almost no athleticism whose sole value was in his supposed instincts and physicality doesn’t strike me as an AR guy. Obviously Reid talked up some hype at the post-draft PC, but that’s the only “finger print” I know of.

        • laeagle

          I think others have nailed it. They smell of picks where Reid got something stuck in his mind and nothing was going to change it. Something he liked about each of them. That’s where the “smarter than everyone” thing comes in, because regardless of what others were saying, Reid was going with his gut.

          I think Reid fell in love too easily with certain aspects of players and couldn’t remain objective. That’s tough to get by when drafting. I’m guessing he saw Watkins as a real character guy, and a real “plugger”, and once that seed was planted, it was hard to get out. Same with Jarrett, except there I think he saw the hard hits, the (supposed) work ethic, etc., and he had the local angle so he was in Reid’s head. Sometimes that works out, where Reid knows more than everyone else about local guys (Westbrook!). Sometimes, he just talks himself into loving guys, and won’t let it go. Like me and that 2nd bottle of wine I’ve convinced my self must be opened.

          Again, I don’t have any inside info, just opinions from watching 14 years of Reid, and those two guys stuck out like sore thumbs. Both were somewhat “reachy” and had aspects you could see Reid getting himself all worked up about. Learn to let go, Andy!

          • D3Keith

            I looked for it, but couldn’t find … there was definitely a feature after Jarrett was drafted that said Reid and MM (I believe, although not sure why an offensive guy would take an interest in a safety) regularly went to check out Temple games and loved them some Jarrett, who of course played his home games at The Linc.

            Reid also took the blame for the pick when he was cut, though not sure how much to read into that.

      • eagles2zc

        Only the ill-informed such as Jason La Canfora blames Howie

      • Anders

        I think Jarrett was a Castillo pick.

        • http://twitter.com/mannafromkevin Kevin

          I was thinking this too.

      • Baloophi

        “Neon Reid” is my new favorite nickname… well done. Rumor is Andy went by “Neon Reid” for a brief but wild period after BYU when he was finding himself in San Francisco.

        • TommyLawlor

          Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • Ark87

      Possibly. Could be a Juan guy too. Juan wasn’t big on athleticism, he liked “football players”. His philosophy was that un-athletic football players can still play the game faster than a pure athlete if they have a good football mind/upbringing etc. Turns out Jaiquan had nothing going for him though. Casey Mathews was another guy we know Juan was big on, he seems to fit a similar mold.

    • TommyLawlor

      That laeagle guy seems pretty wise.

  • phillyfan1987

    He may stick around but I see this as a stepping stone for his future GM gig…if you rebuild the 49ers and then “rebuild”,notice the quotation marks, doesn’t that make his resume that much more interesting. I say he gives us three off seasons and is gone. That is good enough to get a strong foundation and to give good evaluation insight to those under.

    I was trying to remember where I’ve seen Bill Lazor from(im Not A Big time college football guy)…he was the Offensive Quality Coach for the Falcons under Dan Reeves if im not mistaken…im sure there arent two guys with that name. I bring this up because Chip is confident he can make some changes to Vick and Lazor has history with Vick in some of his best years in ATL. Lazor is now the QB coach. Im sure as a short term answer Bill, Pat and Kelly will add some of the wrinkles that made Vick successful and it may help out. Reeves did say Vick would have a few set backs in the WCO and the terminology, the playbook and having to call out reads and stuff at the line could not have helped. Im sure a quick read offense should help given how well vick did in the hurry up offense.

    • TommyLawlor

      Gamble does want to be a GM so this is definitely a short term hire. Still a good move.

      Lazor did spend a season with Vick. That was the lazy, sloppy version of Vick so I’m not all that sure Lazor would have great things to say about Mike. He’ll be shocked at how different he is in terms of preparation and practice.

      • shah8

        Vick was a reasonably effective passer in Dan Reeve’s system.

  • westy36

    Hey Tommy, how much of a difference do you see between Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher? While Joeckel is the better pass blocker, I don’t think Fisher is too far behind and he seems to be much more comfortable run blocking, especially in space. In a much more even pass-run ratio offense going forward, I may be a little more inclined to go with Fisher.

    • Eric Weaver

      I’d actually prefer Fisher if they are moving to a strong running game. Of course, that’d require a trade down, which may not be possible.

      • xeynon

        A trade down is always possible. It’s just a question of whether the return they’d get would make it worth the risk of losing out on Fisher (if he is their target). From what I’ve read most people expect him to be a top 10 pick at this point so we’d be gambling quite a bit moving down even just a few spots.

    • shah8

      The rationale for Fisher is why I had been thinking about Warmack. Need MUSCLE on that right side. Really. Second level blocking is great and all, but we have just got to be able to trust that we can handle short-yardage and goal situation without need for bang-bang plays that makes that pick-6 so much more likely to happen. Or the fumble at Pitt.

  • Anders

    But Tommy, Jason La Canfora told that Howie is drunk with power and nobody wants to work for him

    • Average_Joseph

      Sounds more like Jason La Canfora was just drunk.
      Just An Average Joseph

    • TommyLawlor

      La Canfora was taking some heat on Twitter yesterday. He didn’t have any good responses. You reap what you sew.

      • Mac

        So glad I read this post. La Canfora deserves whatever grief he gets… including innumerable times of having someone pull the football away when he tries to kick it.

  • Arby1

    I love this move too. It also speaks to Howie’s persistence since the Eagles pursued Gamble last year too – it’s not unlike keeping open the avenues of communications with Chip Kelly.

    On Watkins vs. Iupati, what can you say?! I wanted Iupati, Alex Mack ( a year before we actually needed him) and Maurikice Pouncey. The Eagles under Reid had a habit of undervaluing positions sometimes until they stuck out like sore thumbs. I won’t miss Reid, the last word on player personnel, at all.

    • BobSmith77

      No, Andy Reid the GM was very underwhelming and rightly deserved a lot of the criticism he got the last few years.

      Big reason why I think Reid is going to be underwhelming and ultimately fail in KC. Took on too much, too soon, and doesn’t have a QB in place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmcgill3 Dan McGill

    Sort of off topic, but the article mentions advising Roseman to get rid of Nnamdi, pronto. Is it possible that he might be more effective at the free safety position?

    • Iskar36

      Tommy will do a better job answer this, but as for Nnamdi at safety, he is not nearly a good enough tackler to play safety. As a safety, you need to be able to support the run defense, and that would be a major hole in Nnamdi’s abilities.

    • TommyLawlor

      Nnamdi isn’t a consistent hitter or tackler. He has bad ball skills. Putting him at Safety would be highly questionable. Cut him.

  • Will

    Tommy,

    Do you know of any interesting 49ers free agents that Gamble may be able to provide some inside info on?

    P.S. Great Jonathan Tuttle reference a few weeks back…it took me awhile to remember who he was (such an inspiration to us all)

    • TommyLawlor

      Love Tuttle.

      S Dashon Goldson is the most obvious one. That would fill a major need for us.

      FB/TE/H-back Delanie Walker maybe. I’d need to see their list of guys.

      • xeynon

        I have a question about Goldson Tommy – is he really that good, or does he look better than he is because he plays next to a talented partner in Whitner and behind a front 7 that gets an excellent pass rush?

        I’m always skeptical of second tier starters on elite units who enter free agency, especially DBs. Too many of them turn out to have been products of the system/talent they were playing with when they get to a new team that lacks the elite unit mates and great pass rush of their original team (the names Larry Brown and Dexter Jackson spring immediately to mind here).

        • TommyLawlor

          Goldson is better than Whitner.

          One of the keys is the way SF plays. They let you catch the ball in front of them and then they come up and pound on you. Helps to have ILBs that run and tackle so well. Tough to find open ground.

          I liked Goldson when he was coming out of college. He’s a legit talent and quality player.

  • Eric Weaver

    I thought a guy like Bowman wasn’t much more than a STs guy. He had great sideline speed, but I felt he was too undersized to play in the NFL as a regular starter. Just goes to show that you can put a guy into a certain situation (ILB in a 3-4) and they can shine. I just hope Gamble can work that type of magic here.

    • TommyLawlor

      Bowman was dominant when PSU played USC in the Rose Bowl. He was the best LB on the field. In retrospect, he may have been the best player on the field period. The only reason he fell in the draft is spending too much time with his friend Mary Jane.

      • http://www.facebook.com/justin.sengstock.7 Justin Sengstock

        Guess we won’t be drafting that kid Peter Parker then. Shame, I heard he had killer vertical and change of direction ability.

      • GermanEagle

        I’ve still got my hopes up for the HoneyBadger!!!

        • TommyLawlor

          We’ll see.

  • bdbd20

    I wonder if the master plan is Howie as Team President with Gamble becoming the GM.

    • Arby1

      I wondered that too.

    • Ark87

      That kinda of seems ideal

    • BobSmith77

      I’d be happy with that.

  • GermanEagle

    What a shame that the Eagles (D) are a couple of years away from being a serious Super Bowl contender. It would have been like a dream come true for me to see my all-time non-Eagle Ed Reed in an Eagles uniform this off-season..!

    • Ark87

      Wouldn’t work, Jason Kelce would come after his knees with a 2×4…or worse…

      • TommyLawlor

        Worst looking serial killer ever.

        • Ark87

          I will agree, but only out of spiteful jealousy to that beard.

        • D3FB

          Mathis is going to lock you in his basement for this. No one insults those two and gets away w/ it.

      • wee2424

        Looks like Zach Galifinaskis from the Hangover.

        Definitely butchered the last name.

    • D3Keith

      Hey! Ed Reed is MY favorite all-time non-Eagle!

  • over the top

    Good job with breakdown, thank you. .. i just hope it was not his idea to jump on Moss

  • ACViking

    T-Law:

    Assume you’re the Eagles’ GM.

    Assume you’ve the Top 8 players in this year’s NFL draft graded out equally and none is a QB.

    And assume those Top 8 are an: OT, WR, TE, DE, D/NT, OLB, CB, S.

    Who do you take?

    Obviously, it’s pre-free agency.

    But in making the choice, you’ll have to make some assumptions about what CK wants to do on offense and on defense. And how he views the current roster (assume, also, that all injured players return to at least 95% of what they were pre-injury).

    And, in that context, I think you’d have to decide which position filled with a Top-8 talent will deliver the biggest impact.

    So which position would that be for you?

    • Ark87

      Interesting hypothetical. How’s this for an angle. S, obviously a need. But if said player is in an 8-way tie for #1 overall in terms of value with the likes of OT’s and DE’s (value extra weighted by position) then the dude is practically already a pro-bowler with eyes on the HoF.

      Using this principle, the TE would be a godly player, I just want a safety badly.
      Throw a fullback or kicker in that hypothetical list, do you know how good they’d have to be to be there!? 80% PK’s from our own 20, yes please!

      • ACViking

        nice work on the PK

    • Anders

      OT. We just saw what it means going from the best LT to craptatatic LT. A player like Peters make you able to do things on offense you wouldnt normally do. Also Kelly views his OL as the most important part of his offense

    • holeplug

      Tackle, pass rusher, or corner.

    • TommyLawlor

      If you knew how much I think about this, you’d have me locked up to get help. Not sure yet.

  • Mac

    Looking forward to the headlines after FA and the draft:

    Howie’s Gamble pays off for Eagles.

  • austinfan

    Looking at the team website,

    Rick Mueller, who helped build the Saints SB team, is listed as a “player personnel Executive” – didn’t he come aboard before the 2012 draft?

    Tom Donohue, who helped build the Steeler SB teams, is listed as “Senior Football Adviser”

    And now they’ve added Gamble.

    Seems Howie isn’t afraid to be surrounded by “real football guys.”

    • TommyLawlor

      Howie will hire anyone he thinks can help.

      • austinfan

        What I like is three guys from three different organizations running different offensive and defensive schemes.

        Part of draft day gaming is understanding how other teams will view draft prospects, Howie’s got himself an edge there.

  • ACViking

    Re: “We just saw what it means going from the best LT to craptatatic LT.”

    Anders authored that fantastic sentence . . . and that new word in the English language.

    And I think it deserves to be memorialized somewhere prominent for all Eagles fans. Because it capture the tragic-comedy that was the 2012 Eagles . . . and D-Bell.

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    I’m still on the fence about the Chip Ship (I was and still am a Gus Bus supporter), but I’m ecstatic about this Gamble hire and the front office in general now (in that regard, Ruben Frank had a great column today on the revamping that has taken place in the front office).
    I think we are at least pointed in the right direction and can see us running off another decade of consistent playoff-level football, with the one question being will we be able to put it all together one magical year.
    Overall, it just seems like such a breath of fresh air now with AR gone. At this point, I can’t wait for the new season to start.