Under the Microscope

Posted: March 13th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

The 2020 season is one of the weirdest I’ve experienced since I began following the Eagles. The pandemic was obviously a huge part of that, but Covid aside, 2020 was still flat out bizarre. The 2021 offseason is proving to be equally strange.

Howie Roseman remains front and center amid all the chaos.

The coach he hired in 2016 is gone. So is the staff he built around that coach. The QB he traded up for, drafted and then signed to a mega-deal is gone. Only two players from the 2016 and 2017 draft classes remain on the roster. Favored veterans Jason Peters and DeSean Jackson are gone. Zach Ertz is headed for the door.

Howie remains. Not to worry, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Genard Avery can keep him company.

Jeff McLane wrote an in-depth piece on Howie for the Inquirer.

It doesn’t paint Howie in a flattering light. This isn’t a hit piece, though. McLane gave credit to Howie for his successes and gave context for some of the issues. Still, you can’t come away from that feeling good about the Eagles GM.

The most damning part involves an interaction with Lane Johnson.

The following week, Johnson was with teammates in the NovaCare cafeteria when Roseman walked up and said, according to sources, “I’ve never seen you get beat by a rookie before.” The pair were known to bust each other’s chops, but Johnson, who was also dealing with personal issues at the time, didn’t take kindly to the jab. He left the facility.

A month later, the Eagles were in London to face the Jaguars. Johnson had suffered a high ankle sprain three games earlier but continued to forge on. But as the players geared up that Sunday in the Wembley Stadium locker room, Johnson voiced concerns about playing.

Roseman caught wind and berated him, sources present said. Nearby teammates and coaches couldn’t understand why he would provoke him, considering Johnson’s current state. The tackle finished suiting up and as he walked by Roseman, the GM said, according to sources, “Good, you have your mouthpiece in, now you can’t say anything stupid.”

The last comment, which a source close to Roseman said was intended to be playful, set Johnson off. “I can’t play for this [expletive],” he said, according to a source. He took off his equipment and went to the showers and missed pregame warmups. Left tackle Jason Peters went to Pederson’s office for help defusing the situation.

This didn’t create a permanent feud. Johnson reportedly has a good relationship with Howie and did re-sign with the team. But you can’t ignore the fact the team’s GM was acting like such an ass. If a coach wants to play mind games like that, so be it. Bill Parcells won a pair of Super Bowls by pushing the buttons of his players. This is not normal GM behavior.

There was a report last summer that Ertz and Howie had heated words on the field.

GMs are in a tough spot because they deal with contracts and every NFL player wants more money. That’s not a shot at players. Most people want more money. GMs can’t pay every player more because they have to deal with the cap. That’s going to lead to some strained relationships. That’s why interacting with players and joking with them can be so dangereous. Howie might not have meant anything with his comments, but since he controls the flow of money, you don’t know how the player will take those comments.

Howie’s critics go too far when they try to paint him as incompetent or the worst GM in the league or things to that level. The man helped build a Super Bowl roster and the Eagles have been more good than bad during his tenure.

The problem is that he’s struggled in recent years. Jason Peters was a dominant left tackle for a decade. The player we saw in 2020 was a liability at times. Age caught up with him. We don’t know what caught up with Howie exactly, but he’s not been making good decisions in recent years.

  • Passing on D.K. Metcalf for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is the move he really gets hammered for. I’ll cut Howie some slack because Eagles doctors may not have given Metcalf a passing grade on his physical. Multiple teams had serious concerns. Still, JJAW has been a major bust.
  • Trading up for Andre Dillard has not worked out at all.
  • Trading for Genard Avery has proven to be a bad move. Howie told us last year the move was really about 2020. Well, Avery had 1.5 sacks in 11 games. He’s now moving to LB. I’d rather have the fourth round pick back.
  • Giving Alshon Jeffery a re-worked contract was a ridiculously bad move.
  • Bringing back DeSean Jackson proved to be a massive waste of time and money.
  • The Malik Jackson signing didn’t work out. Like DeSean, he looked great at times, but he struggled to stay healthy and productive.
  • It is fair to question the Darius Slay trade. He struggled against elite receivers, but did have success in some games.
  • The Javon Hargrave signing looked horrible for a while. Hargrave got better as the year went on. Keep your fingers crossed on him.
  • Cutting L.J. Fort got the Eagles back a pick, but Fort has been a productive LB for a good Ravens defense the past two years. I’d rather have the talented LB.
  • I’m not going to get into the 2020 draft. We need to see how those players develop over time. It certainly doesn’t look good that the team chose Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson.
  • Howie wasn’t able to find weapons for Wentz. Howie and the team didn’t anticipate the effect the Jalen Hurts pick would have on Wentz.
  • An over-reliance on veterans has had the Eagles as one of the oldest teams in the league the past few years. That’s not how you sustain success.

It just isn’t pretty. Good moves like signing Alex Singleton, drafting Jordan Mailata and drafting Miles Sanders pale in comparion to the mistakes.

Howie helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. Since then the roster got older, worse and more expensive. That is a dreadful combination. It does not bode well for the future.

Jeff Lurie will stick with Howie so all we can do is hope he somehow gets his mojo back and makes good picks this year. This team can’t afford a bad draft class. The right group of players could get this team headed in the right direction.

If Howie misses, the Eagles could be headed for a Top 5 draft pick.


4 Comments on “Under the Microscope”

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