December 28, 2015
Chip Kelly is not the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles -- at least that's what he said Monday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex, two days after his team's playoff hopes were dashed by Washington for the second straight year.
"No, not at all," Kelly said when asked if his role as GM has increased his workload this season. "Again, I'm not the general manager, so I don't run our personnel department. I'm not in charge of scouting. I don't tell our scouts where they're going -- Ed Marynowitz does a great job of that. The only difference [from last year] is I was in control of the 53-man roster and now I'm in control of the 90-man roster.
"All those decisions that were made in season were always -- we always went over [together] who was available if we were putting a guy on IR. We all understand that. So my job has never changed. So to say I'm the head coach and not the general manager -- I'm not the general manager. I don't negotiate contracts, I don't do any of that stuff. I just have a say of who is on the 90-man roster as opposed to the 53-man roster. But once the season starts, I've always had control over the 53-man roster, so that hasn't changed at all, nor has there been any more time devoted to any of that, because that's not the way it's set up."
That's ... interesting.
Almost one year ago, on January 2, 2015, the team sent out a press release announcing structural changes in the front office, and it included the following sentence.
"Head coach Chip Kelly will now oversee the player personnel department."
Now, contrast that to what the coach said Monday. See a problem yet?
That release also stated that ex-GM Howie Roseman would assume the role of "Executive Vice President of Football Operations and will continue directing contract negotiations, salary cap management and NFL strategic matters, while overseeing the team’s medical staff, equipment staff and more."
Kelly, meanwhile, would "lead efforts to hire a new personnel executive – a process that will begin immediately." As we all now know, Kelly tapped Marynowitz to be the team's new VP of Player Personnel, but not the GM. The words "general manager" are nowhere to be found in that statement. If anything, the release read more like Marynowitz would be overseeing the scouting department.
And, in fact, the team website doesn't even have Marynowitz listed under the "Football Operations" section on their website. The top spot there belongs to Howie Roseman. Marynowitz, on the other hand, can be found further down the page as the top name under "Scouting."
It's also completely lacking any reference to the general manager, with one exception.
It's not a mistake, according to the Eagles; they confirmed Monday that the team doesn't actually have anyone with the title "General Manager."
And with an important offseason looming -- one that includes a decision on whether or not to re-sign QB Sam Bradford -- it would certainly be nice to know who is calling the shots. Kelly has expressed interest in bringing him back throughout the season, and echoed that sentiment on Monday. But if he isn't the only one making personnel decisions, could Roseman nix the deal if it didn't fit in the salary cap structure he's laid out? Or could Marynowitz and his scouting department tell the coach to focus on a young prospect instead?
If you believe the current structure, Roseman being "elevated" -- that's how the Jan. 2 press release framed it -- means he is now above the GM, which was his previous position. And since it also stated that Kelly would "oversee the player personnel department" and hire Marynowitz, that would put the coach above even the VP of Player Personnel.
However, Kelly's assumption of personnel control would mean that he actually has more power than Roseman as well. After all, that roster control used to belong to Roseman. And if that's the case, Kelly is the de facto GM whether he wants to admit it or not.
Considering the Eagles are one of just two NFL teams -- the other is the Cincinnati Bengals -- that don't have anyone listed as general manager, it's safe to wonder whether or not this sort of structure -- one in which the GM's responsibilities are split among three different people -- is the best for the Eagles.
Sure, it allows for a system of checks and balances, but it could also be the reason Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and others are finding success elsewhere while the players they brought in -- like DeMarco Murray, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell -- have been among the biggest disappointments in a season full of them.
At the same time, it means the blame for this lost season is shared, making it harder to evaluate which one of the these decision makers, if any, actually knows what he is doing.