If you’re wondering how the Eagles went from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy a few years ago to a 4-11-1 record, firing the coach and trading the franchise quarterback, a new report from The Athletic gives a lot of answers.
The trio of Sheil Kapadia, Bo Wulf and Zach Berman have brought back and written a long story exploring the inner workings of the Eagles organization and the dysfunction that has apparently created a less than ideal culture.
The whole story is worth your time, but here are some of the more notable elements and a few thoughts on them:
A big theme of the story was how the front office – namely owner Jeff Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman – treated Doug Pederson.
Pederson coached Philadelphia for five seasons before being sacked this last offseason. When the Eagles hired him back in 2016, it wasn’t a very popular decision, but Pederson went on to make the playoffs three years in a row and won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2017 season.
But The Athletic’s story portrays an image of the front office undermining Pederson quite often, especially when it comes to his coaching staff. While we’ve heard of it before, the story goes that Pederson had to fight for Frank Reich to return after the 2016 season and also details his battle to keep Mike Groh and Carson Walch after the 2018 season. Pederson lost that battle. and Groh and Walch were fired. According to the report, Lurie gave Pederson 24 hours to make the moves and Pederson would be fired if he didn’t.
Even this last offseason, a main disagreement that led to Pederson’s dismissal concerned the coaching staff. Pederson wanted to keep his guys and Lurie wanted to shake up the staff again.
Here is a quote from the story:
“The fact that Doug has had the success he’s had with all the s… that’s 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. “”
This offseason, the Eagles have hired another young head coach for the first time in Nick Sirianni. The details of Pederson’s time in Philly make you wonder how Sirianni will be able to succeed in this environment. But it’s worth mentioning that it appears Sirianni had the freedom to hire all – or at least most – of his first coaching staff.
Lurie and Roseman
Another big theme of the story concerns the relationship between Lurie and Roseman. Again, this is not completely new. And based on the fact that Roseman is still around, we know how close he and Lurie have stayed.
But this information from the story reflects the thoughts of many inside and outside the building:
According to multiple sources, the answer is that Roseman made himself “essential” to Lurie. “He’s a survivor,” a source said of Roseman. “He’s someone who knows how to stay close to the most important person in the building.”
Through it all, Roseman overcame doubts about his bona fide football to become one of the league’s most powerful leaders, a de facto CEO who answers only to Lurie.
Those close to Roseman believe he was sincere in his efforts to improve his interpersonal skills following his deportation. He often talks about taking the lessons of that time with him. But in recent years, as the team’s success waned, sources claim some of Roseman’s worst instincts have returned.
There are also details in this story about Roseman trying incredibly to extinguish the leaks from inside the building, stories that create an image of paranoia inside the NovaCare complex. Although Roseman made a Super Bowl roster in 2017, he also has his flaws and they aren’t limited to his draft record.
It is also very interesting that many believe that Roseman made a “sincere” effort to improve his people skills to fall back into bad habits. Roseman learned a lot during his year away and one of the main things he always talks about was relationships and how important they are.
Who is Alec Halaby?
One of the most interesting (and new) parts of The Athletic’s history concerns Alec Halaby, the Eagles’ vice president of football operations and strategy. Basically, Halaby is the head of the Eagles analysis department. You don’t hear a lot about him on a daily basis, but he has an important role within the organization.
According to the story, a “rift” has grown between Halaby and members of the Eagles training and scouting departments.
“In the building he’s seen as Howie’s guy,” a source said. “That’s a problem.… No coach wants someone around them who they think undermines the perception of their performance.
For some, Halaby is somewhat of an intruder. They say he wields influence over Lurie in part because of a close relationship with fellow Harvard graduate Julian Lurie, Jeffrey’s son, who will one day take over the family business. For others, Halaby is “brilliant” and just ready to fight for what he believes is right. The more nuanced opinion is that Halaby is in a “no-win situation,” framed in a specific characterization by the non-traditional football past that he shares with Roseman and a personality that makes him a “square ankle in the game.” a round hole ”.
The vagueness of Halaby’s influence over final decision-makers has created divisions across the organization and contributed to clarity between departments. A source described the analysis team as an “underground Black Ops department that responds to no one except the owner,” even though Halaby officially reports to Roseman.
During the 2017 season, Halaby and Pederson’s relationship deteriorated to the point that Pederson berated Halaby within earshot of the rest of the office, sources said. In the opinion of some of the coaching staff, Halaby was not trustworthy.
There will probably always have been a natural tension between analysts and old-school footballers. This is, in some ways, to be expected. But we have to make an effort to bridge the gap between these two sides. According to this story, Andrew Berry was brought to Philly in the hopes of doing so. But Berry’s stint in Philadelphia was short before he moved to Cleveland to be their general manager. And it looks like the flaw remains. Analytics, moreover, leads nowhere. Lurie is in love.
Lurie likes the draft
Lurie has always been involved in the football business. In recent years, we have heard more about this participation. Maybe it’s true that he’s taken a more active role, or maybe we’re finally learning more about what he does. Maybe a bit of both.
On the Takeoff podcast with John Clark, former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah said Lurie was still very interested in the draft process (that was almost ten years ago) and would interview scouts and members. staff on the process. But there is a difference between being involved and directly affecting the process.
And there seems to be a lack of transparency that bothers a lot within the organization:
Those who have experienced this process recognize its obscurity. Often no explanation is given when the team deviates from an established scorecard. Sometimes, like with JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s selection in 2019, Lurie puts his thumb on the scales when the team was ready to make another selection (in this case, Parris Campbell of Ohio State).
But the virtual nature of the 2020 draft made things even less clear for the majority of football operations staff. For the most part, last year’s decisions were discussed in a small virtual room made up of Roseman, Lurie, Pederson, and vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl. As a result, each of the Eagles’ top three caps – TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor – mystified some home-watching scouts and coaches, like everything else. the world.
All in all, it’s a pretty damning look at the Eagles’ organization. And reading all of this, it’s hard to believe the Eagles were able to win a Super Bowl a few years ago. Not to minimize anything, but talent always wins and dysfunction is only brought to light when things aren’t going well. If the Eagles are able to nail their draft picks in the years to come, secure a QB and if Sirianni is successful, that dysfunction may not matter for a while. We will find out soon enough.
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