February 22, 2021
Doug Pederson is long gone. Carson Wentz has now followed and the South Jersey real-estate market has some prime listings for those of you with the means.
Even the more obvious Eagles exits everyone knew were coming got kickstarted last week when DeSean Jackson was released. Well-known names like Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Malik Jackson are sure to follow in the coming days and weeks.
Through it all, however, the City of Philadelphia has seemingly placed the blame for the Eagles' steep fall from Super Bowl glory to dysfunctional dumpster fire in three calendar years on one man who remains — general manager Howie Roseman.
The embattled Eagles’ football chief is like the lone destroyer left, and already identified by everyone else, in the game of Battleship. And everyone is champing at the bit to sink the battleship.
Much like Wentz's trip to Indianapolis, it's not if but when for Roseman when it comes to making the Eagles' football decisions. In the NFL, the three certainties of life are death, taxes, and shelf life. Having a longer shelf life than almost everyone else doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Roseman’s opponents, perhaps buoyed by his long history of ultimately winning power struggles as the right-hand man of Jeffrey Lurie, are relentless. Winning so many wars and having so many pelts on the wall has come with the price of resentment and perhaps even envy for Roseman.
As Lurie's propensity for scapegoating picked up after Super Bowl LII, so has the pressure on Roseman from outside the NovaCare Complex. Many look at the owner and wonder why the top of his pyramid is never blamed for the failings of those beneath with one league source recently telling NBC Sports Philadelphia that the GM is the "sole problem" in Philadelphia.
The rarely-used science of common sense refutes that definition because Lurie exists and he's the one pulling the strings and "choosing" Roseman over Pederson, Wentz, and everyone else over the years.
Then there's the pesky sourcing that Roseman was prepared to run things back with Pederson in 2021 right up until Lurie didn't like the coaching staff Pederson was proposing and then was prepared to bring in the head-strong Josh McDaniels in an attempt to get the offensive problems right. Lurie is the one who kept saying no until the big wheel stopped on Nick Sirianni. Roseman also listened to the coaching staff and perhaps Lincoln Riley when it came to Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson.
The list of mistakes is far longer, of course, and the point here is not to absolve Roseman of any culpability. In fact, it's the opposite in an attempt to point out what's really going on.
Roseman is in charge of a football operations staff that is 27 deep and a personnel department with 17 employees before you even get to the coaching staff and the roster he's got to rubber stamp. Any individual failing in football ops is his failing because that's how it works in the NFL when you reach Roseman's paygrade.
The fact Roseman has already gotten a hand in naming three coaches is unprecedented in the modern league environment. And the thought he can last a painful rebuilding process at his current local Q Rating without more significant hits to his already skewered reputation is minimal.
But that highlights Lurie’s real affinity for his right-hand man.
Roseman is Lurie’s localized scaled-down version of what Roger Goodell offers all the NFL’s owners — a lightning rod for criticism.
Just as Goodell takes the hits for the real power when it comes to the latest league scandal, Roseman is in Philadelphia to take the punches for J.J. over D.K. and the tone-deaf vacuum selection of Jalen Hurts along with the real-world effect it had on an entitled quarterback once earmarked for $128 million.
In the end, both Pederson and Wentz were Lurie's decisions — and the $33.8M dead-money precedent for the latter highlights just how badly the Eagles’ owner wanted out of the Wentz business. Lurie is also smart enough to understand when the visceral disdain no longer has a place to go it doesn't exit stage left, it simply searches for the next victim.
As long as Roseman's skin is thick enough to sustain the hits — and there's at least some evidence that is starting to wane — a darker tint on the windows is always an option.
In the meantime, the Eagles will begin to get better because they almost have to and the praise will be directed elsewhere, perhaps Sirianni, maybe Hurts, or a rookie quarterback we don’t even know.
Ironically, Sirianni's success means rinse and repeat until the next cycle with the Roseman angst holstered. Failure is the counterintuitive notion for Eagles fans to get what they think they really want — the expiration date on Roseman’s shelf life.
Context is always messy.
John McMullen is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media, the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey and also contributes Eagles and NFL coverage for SI.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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