Defending Howie RosemanBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Wednesday, December 14th, 2016
In the midst of a 5-8 season, the Philadelphia Eagles continue to face a great deal of questions about the future of their franchise. One of the largest questions, one that has lingered for years, is whether or not Howie Roseman should be allowed to remain heavily involved in the team’s personnel decisions.
Marcus Hayes of Philly.com wrote a column calling for Roseman’s firing, less than a full season into his second go-around as the team’s general manager.
Howie isn’t without fault. But he’s done a lot of good things over the last year. Not all of them have worked out, but he’s nailed a handful of decisions that have the team’s arrow pointing up in the future.
It starts with Carson Wentz. Ever since the Donovan McNabb era ended, the Eagles had been trying to take shortcuts to find their franchise quarterback. They didn’t spend top picks to acquire quarterbacks, instead settling for middling prospects like Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles, and Matt Barkley in the draft, guys who all had limited upside and ceilings. The franchise ended up wasting second, third, and fourth round picks to bring those guys in.
They also tried the ever-painful route of reviving the careers of failed first-round picks from other teams. This led to the era where we saw Michael Vick, Vince Young, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow come to town and provide fans with some teases of their ever-unfulfilled potential, but ultimately none of those guys were able to take the Eagles higher than 10-6, and none ever won the team a playoff game.
It was time for the Eagles to go back to the top of the draft to land their franchise quarterback, and Roseman did it without paying a price that would cripple the team’s ability to improve through the draft in years to come. During the process of getting in position to draft Wentz, Roseman was even able to accomplish what many would have thought to be impossible, jettisoning the albatross contracts of Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray.
Howie also hit a homerun by taking advantage of the Minnesota Vikings and extorting a first-round pick out of them for Sam Bradford. Not only did this move restock the team’s draft pick supply, but it opened the door for Wentz to begin his career this year instead of 2017, getting a good deal of his growing pains out of the way.
Howie will receive a lot of criticism for the handful of extensions he handed out to some of the team’s young players. Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Vinny Curry, and Fletcher Cox have all failed to live up to expectations after picking up big deals last off-season. Criticism of these moves is laughable, because there’s a lot of revisionist history going on. The vast majority of the team’s followers were all for these extensions when they took place. And the reality is that its too early to say whether or not these extensions were bad ones. Its very reasonable that a lot of people have soured on Ertz after the kind of efforts he’s been giving throughout the season, but there’s still hope for these other young players.
Lane Johnson’s suspension was unfortunate, but he’s still a guy that can be a bookend tackle in this league, and getting him back for a full season will be a huge boost to this offense. I also think its too early to give up on Vinny Curry. The entire defensive line has underachieved this season, and I find it hard to believe that Curry, Cox, and the other big-name players on the front lines forgot how to play football overnight. More so, I think their struggles are a product of poor scheming by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Also keep in mind some of the other moves that Roseman’s made that have been positive. The Rodney McLeod signing has given the team an excellent tandem at the safety position, and for the first time since 2008, the position is a strength rather than a weakness. Nigel Bradham has also quietly been a nice addition to the defense. Jalen Mills and Halapoulivaati Vaitai appear to be solid late-round finds in the draft. Stefan Wisniewski and Brandon Brooks have been solid additions to the offensive line.
The most important thing to keep in perspective with this situation is that Chip Kelly did such a ridiculous amount of damage to this franchise in his year of personnel control. Roseman entered this offseason with a roster that didn’t have a long-term answer at quarterback, holes across the offensive line, garbage at the skill positions, and holes throughout the secondary. This was always going to be a multi-year fix, and the fact that Roseman was able to accomplish what he has in just one offseason is impressive.
I don’t know that Roseman is going to be the guy that truly returns this organization to being an annual contender. But he’s earned at least another season to keep building.
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