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January 30, 2018

The man with the plan: How Roseman's vision helped land Pederson in Philly – and the Eagles in the Super Bowl

In the time between Doug Pederson's two coaching stints in Philadelphia – he was an offensive assistant under Andy Reid from 2009-12 before returning as the head coach two years ago this month – both Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman saw their careers take very different trajectories that ultimately led them to the same spot: in Minnesota preparing to play the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

While Doug's path from QB coach to offensive coordinator to head coach was more or less a steady climb, Roseman's more closely resembled that old Himalayan carnival ride.

Up. Down. Forward. Backward.

By the time Pederson had returned, after just three years in Kansas City as Reid's offensive coordinator (2013-15), Roseman had gone from a GM with full personnel control to a GM with partial roster control, to a GM with no control, and then back again.

Aside from the opportunity to be the head coach of an NFL team eight years after he was coaching high schoolers in Shreveport, La., Pederson, a former quarterback himself, liked the plan Roseman and the Eagles were selling.

"Two years ago, the plan was to acquire a quarterback," Pederson said Tuesday. "That was our first plan, you know, and we were able to do that in Carson [Wentz]. We do have the quarterback of the future for the Eagles, obviously. After that, it was about building the talent around him, and it's not just always offensive guys. It's also acquiring talent on defense."

And build, he did. Just take a look at some of the notable additions to this year's team:

QB Nick Foles Free Agent
WR Alshon Jeffery Free Agent
WR Torrey Smith Free Agent
RB LeGarrette Blount Free Agent
RB Jay Ajayi Trade
RB Corey Clement Draft
DE Chris Long Free Agent
DT Timmy Jernigan Trade
DE Derek Barnett Draft
CB Patrick Robinson Free Agent
CB Ronald Darby Trade
CB Rasul Douglas Draft
S Corey Graham Free Agent
K Jake Elliott Free Agent

"This past spring [was great], with Alshon [Jeffery] and Torrey [Smith] and picking up LeGarrette [Blount] and eventually Jay [Ajayi]," Pederson added. "Think about the defensive side with Tim Jernigan and Patrick Robinson and these guys. It's what you've got to do – you've got to do that, have those guys around your quarterback, along with the current players like Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor and Tre Burton and guys like that.

"It's a plan – it's still a work in progress, obviously. You're still always trying to better yourself and better your team and get better each and every year. But these past couple of years have really been positive, and [Roseman's] a big part of the success that's gotten us to where we are today."

As you can see, in the past year Roseman and right-hand-man Joe Douglas added more than a few players who have made an impact during the Eagles' run-up to Super Bowl LII. They were so good, in fact, that the roster has been able to withstand tremendous loss, both in terms of overall numbers and their respective importance to the team. And for that effort, Roseman was recently named the PFWA Executive of the Year.

More importantly, his team is one of the last two in the NFL left standing as we prepare to turn the calendar to February.

Roseman's boss, the same one who allowed Chip Kelly to wrestle away roster control from Roseman in his final year, is also impressed with job his top executive has done building the team. And while the importance that roster depth has played in getting the Eagles to their second Super Bowl since Jeffrey Lurie bought the team in 1994, the Eagles owner also admitted that even he's a little surprised at quickly the rebuild seems to have taken.

"I think number one [Roseman’s] a very, very smart guy," Lurie said immediately following his team's 38-7 dismantling of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. "In the role today to be in charge of football operations, it is so much more than simply what has been in the past decades with scouting. Scouting is a big part of it, but you have to manage in so many ways short-term needs, mid-term needs, long-term needs. We found ourselves in an interesting situation where this is year two, you could say of the plan, but we have a quarterback that was advancing by leaps and bounds and a team that was playing great, great defense, and an offensive line that was really good. We thought, ‘You know, why can’t we win it all?’ 

"We took an approach where we were going to do everything possible that could help our team this year, and at the same time not relinquish any options going forward. I think that was the key to the strategy. It took Howie and [vice president of player personnel] Joe Douglas and their staffs a lot of work to figure out going after the [Eagles safety] Corey Grahams, you name it, the [Eagles CB] Patrick Robinsons, all over the roster. We were aggressive at the trade deadline because we thought we had a chance. 

"Normally you wouldn’t do that, but we thought we had a chance."

Now, with just 60 minutes of football – and a team that's won five titles in the last 16 years – standing between the Eagles and this city's first Super Bowl title, they'll have their chance.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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