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February 09, 2023

What they're saying about the Eagles: Roseman opens up about Wentz's falling out

The Eagles' GM finally opened up about the falling out and forced trade of Carson Wentz that led to the retool of the roster.

There are only a couple of days left before the Eagles take on the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, and in retrospect, the road for Philly getting back to it all began with that disastrous 2020 season and the falling out with their once franchise quarterback. 

It may not have totally been rock bottom, but an era of Eagles football had run out of gas and forced general manager Howie Roseman to begin a retooling of the roster. 

Things weren't looking good at the time, but two years later, it's safe to say that Roseman did a masterful job in building the Eagles back up. 

And down in Arizona, he was finally ready to talk about the ugly start to that process. 

Here's what they're saying about the Eagles:

Howie's elephant in the room

Marcus Hayes | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jalen Hurts taking a huge leap at quarterback is a big reason why the Eagles are in the Super Bowl again, but that doesn't happen without Carson Wentz's collapse forcing the Eagles' hand to play him, which also may not have happened had they never took Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft as a means to keep the "quarterback factory" stocked. 

It was a real head-scratching move at the time, but the payoff ended up being huge and, at minimum, a massive bailout from the guy the Eagles originally thought was going to be their franchise QB for the next decade. 

Now, in the span of five seasons, general manager Howie Roseman has built two Eagles teams that have gone on to the Super Bowl, both with different starting quarterbacks and different head coaches at the helm. 

And at the Super Bowl's Opening Night on Monday, he opened up about the Wentz situation. 

Wrote Marcus Hayes on the matter:

Monday night, answering questions regarding the decision to draft Hurts, Roseman for the first time was openly critical of Wentz. Roseman left no question as to how he regarded his former franchise quarterback.

“At the end of the day, it’s the most important position in sports. You see it through the course of this season,” Roseman said, alluding to the Eagles’ two late-season losses that Hurts missed with a shoulder injury. “You need depth in this league. Why wouldn’t you consider building depth at the most important position of all sports?”

That’s all Hurts was supposed to be: long-term depth. Wentz saw a threat, and he collapsed. He was the worst quarterback in the NFL in 2020, and Roseman still can’t believe what happened.

“The league is a competitive league. If you’re worried — if you have players that are worried about competition ... " he began, shaking his head. “Look. You have to be really good to start in this league. If you’re worried [that] we’re bringing in depth and talent, you’re probably not the right guy at that position.” [The Inquirer]

Wentz's career has been in a downward spiral since that disastrous 2020 season and forced trade out of Philadelphia. He didn't last a year in Indy and now looks like he has his days are numbered in Washington as well. 

It's been a brutal career descent for a guy who once looked like an MVP. 

The legend of Stoutland University

Talk to anyone within the Eagles and they'll sing praises of Jeff Stoutland for days. 

The offensive line coach, who just agreed to a contract extension to remain with the team, has been vital to the Eagles remaining so competitive in the trenches over the years and has also become a fan favorite ever since Jason Kelce acknowledge him in his legendary Super Bowl parade speech. 

But every legend has an origin, and over at the Inquirer, Mike Sielski traveled to Staten Island to retrace it

A small excerpt from it:

Stoutland turns 61 on Friday, and for all the places he has worked in his career — New Haven, Syracuse, Cornell, Michigan State, Miami, Alabama, Philadelphia — he sounds like he never left Staten Island, with that strong awk-y accent, with a combination of directness and sentimentality. Get him talking about the Eagles’ offensive linemen, and he’s liable to start welling up. “They’re a special group,” he said here days before Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs, days after agreeing to a contract extension with the Eagles. “I love them with all my heart.” He watches It’s a Wonderful Life every December with his wife, Allison, and sees himself as a modern-day George Bailey. “There are so many situations where this would have changed if that wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “It really applies to all of us.” [The Inquirer]

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro, meanwhile, spent some time with Roy Istvan, the Eagles' assistant O-line coach who played under Stoutland in college in the late '80s then began his coaching career under him as a graduate assistant, on the Super Bowl's opening media night. 

The goal was to get a better understanding of what makes Stoutland tick and, in turn, so successful at his job. 

A bit of what Zangaro discovered:

“He has a way of working with everyone and finding a way to reach everybody because everyone learns different,” Istvan said. “And that’s really what I learned from him, is how to reach people on different levels.

“I think that’s something that you work on as a coach and you learn. I think he went to college to be a teacher and I think he always had that teacher’s mentality. Very strict lesson plans, very detailed day-to-day operation. Knew he was trying to get something across. He would say one thing to one person, another thing to another person, but it would have the same meaning.”

One thing that has struck Istvan since he joined the Eagles in 2019 is the way these NFL offensive linemen have the same affection for Stout as he and his teammates did at Southern Connecticut State.

Stoutland is the type of coach players want to stay in contact with even after they leave him. That speaks volumes. [NBCSP]

Through all the Hurt(s)

Greg Bishop | Sports Illustrated

One of Jalen Hurts' greatest strengths is his character. 

Even through the toughest of trials and biggest of letdowns, he's remained gracious and steadfast through all of it. 

It's why, even after all the criticisms and doubts, he's in Arizona about to start for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, and why Alabama coach Nick Saban, even after Hurts left for Oklahoma, is still impressed with him to this day. 

Wrote Greg Bishop after a conversation with the Crimson Tide head coach this week:

As the whole world watched, Hurts was benched at halftime of the national championship game the previous season against Georgia. Tua Tagovailoa replaced him and led the Crimson Tide to a national title. Hurts remained gracious, in public and in private, and that struck his coach as both typical of his quarterback and unusual for anyone thrust into his position. Nick Saban himself notes that, on the night that he swapped quarterbacks—out of necessity, no disrespect intended—Hurts held a 26–2 record as the Crimson Tide’s starter.

Hurts didn’t complain. He didn’t do anything differently, really. He showed up in Alabama’s weight room the morning after his benching and, when he saw freshmen goofing off, he gathered them and told them they had a standard to live up to. No matter what happens. Every. Single. Day. When Tagovailoa retained the starting job in 2018, Hurts didn’t change then, either. Same routines. Same standards.

“The thing that impressed me most about [Hurts] is how he handled the situation when he got replaced,” Saban told Sports Illustrated over the phone this week. “That’s the kind of person he is, the impact he had on people around him, the dedication.” He was the same guy, all year long. “I mean, that’s Jalen,” Saban says. “Just volumes and volumes of character.” []

Keys to good construction

Brad Spielberger | Pro Football Focus ($)

The Eagles go into the Super Bowl with arguably one of the most, if not the most, complete rosters in the NFL, and Kansas City isn't too far behind either. 

And like with every Super Bowl, the team at home will be looking at both to figure out how to emulate them. The NFL is known as a rather copycat league after all. 

With that in mind, Brad Spielberger over at PFF broke down three key points between the Eagles and Chiefs on successful roster construction. The first two have to do with QB – not settling for "fine" because an MVP caliber arm puts you over the top and successful management of that arm's contract during (in the case of Mahomes) or before (in the case of Hurts) their big pay day. 

The final point on the pass, however, coming from the other side:

The Eagles ranked 27th and the Chiefs ranked 17th in expected points allowed per rush in 2022, the second consecutive Super Bowl where neither team was in the top third of the NFL at stopping the run on a per-play basis. Stopping the run is undoubtedly important, particularly if you’re playing from behind and need to get your offense back on the field quickly. However, why prioritize an aspect of roster construction under the premise of trailing in a game? The Eagles' defense led the NFL during the regular season with 506 snaps played with a lead of greater than a touchdown, and the Chiefs were second with 431 snaps. This is why Philadelphia led the NFL with 70 regular season sacks and Kansas City ranked second with 55.

Furthermore, you know you’re going to play good passing offenses come playoff time — the Chiefs are first and the Eagles are sixth in expected points added per dropback this season, a year after the Los Angeles Rams (2nd) faced off against the Cincinnati Bengals (10th).

To be clear, the run game matters. This isn’t some sweeping generalization or a call to completely ignore half of all football. However, your first orders of business in 2023 and beyond if you want to be a legitimate contender need to be focused on passing the ball efficiently on offense and stopping the pass on defense. [PFF]

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