The Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted: April 12th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The Emperor’s New Clothes

Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman were on Cloud Nine after winning the Super Bowl in February of 2018. They had a star QB in Carson Wentz. Their investment in a good backup QB helped deliver the Lombardi Trophy to Broad Street. They had a cutting edge coach who embraced analytics and made the Eagles seem like the smartest organization in football.

Lurie and Roseman won it all and they did it their way.

They truly were the smartest guys in the room.

That little fantasy didn’t last long. The Eagles started slow in 2018 and 2019 before using a weak schedule to help them claim a late entry into the playoffs. Wentz had injuries in both seasons and made people question if he was the answer. Doug Pederson seemed to push all the right buttons in 2017, but he struggled to replace coaches who left and suddenly the staff was as much of an issue as a strength.

2020 was supposed to be a bounce-back year. Instead, the team went over a cliff and completely fell apart. They finished 4-11-1. The Eagles trailed by 10 or more points in the majority of their games. They were a bad team. They were boring.

The new normal was supposed to be competing for Super Bowls. Instead, the new normal was being dysfunctional.

How the mighty have fallen…

Read that article.

Sheil Kapadia, Zach Berman and Bo Wulf wrote a masterful, devastating look at the dysfunction of the Eagles front office. Lurie and Roseman come off very badly. You can see their micro-management issues and also highly troublesome people skills. Both men can be amazing when they want to, but also highly dismissive when they don’t care.

Their treatment of Pederson is troubling, to put it mildly.

Four weeks into the 2019 season, Doug Pederson sat down for his scheduled inquisition.

The Tuesday tribunals with team owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman were a weekly occurrence during Pederson’s five-year tenure as Eagles head coach. In the meetings, Lurie and Roseman questioned Pederson about all aspects of his game management the week prior. Fourth-down decision-making, play calling, personnel choices — everything was on the table.

Days earlier, the team overcame a 10-0 second-quarter deficit to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 34-27 and even its record at 2-2. The offensive key to the win was a steady dose of the running game that took advantage of Green Bay’s defensive game plan.

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough. Lurie, who has long advocated the use of analytics, wanted to know why Pederson hadn’t called more passing plays. The interrogation was the same after another win that season — this time in Buffalo on a day with 23 mph winds.

“(Pederson) was ridiculed and criticized for every decision,” one source told The Athletic. “If you won by three, it wasn’t enough. If you lost on a last-second field goal, you’re the worst coach in history.”

There is probably some hyperbole in that comment, but the gist matches up things we’ve heard elsewhere.

I have no problem with Lurie wanting to meet with his coach and review the previous game. If you’re a hands-on owner, it is smart to meet regularly and talk to your coach. But trying to nitpick how he called/managed the game on a weekly basis? That’s nuts. The coach makes decisions based on things he has seen and felt over the course of a week of preparation. He makes the decisions in a high stress enviornment in real time.

The owner has the benefit of hindsight and is under no pressure to be right. At the end of the day, he’s still a billionaire. Each of the coach’s mistakes move him closer to the unemployment line.

This is not a fun read if you’re an Eagles fan. These problems go beyond fixing the coaching staff and drafting better. Lurie and Roseman do not come off well.

The fact this piece was in The Athletic was interesting. Plenty of people are going to read a terrific piece in the Inquirer, but this got a lot of non-Philly readers. People throughout the football world were checking this out. You can bet other owners and GMs will read this.

I’m curious about Lurie and Roseman’s reaction. They didn’t comment in the article, but they are both image driven and this piece will bother them. Will it lead to any changes? That’s the magic question.

I don’t know.

Lurie and Roseman are smart men. They’ve done some terrific things with the Eagles and no matter what, you can’t take away Super Bowl LII. That really happened. But these men are destroying the good will they built up with that amazing feat by making bad football moves and bad people decisions.

I hope this piece proves to be some kind of wakeup call. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Lurie and Roseman need to show they can change. If not, the Eagles are going to remain a flawed organization unless they can pull off another miracle like 2017. And trust me, the further we get away from that season, the more we see it was a miracle.


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