Eagles

Howie Roseman takes shots at Chip Kelly and the mess he left

Howie Roseman takes shots at Chip Kelly and the mess he left

Everybody else is allowed to rip Chip Kelly for the long-term damage he did to the Eagles’ roster.

Why not Howie Roseman too?

Roseman took a few thinly-veiled shots at Kelly during his press briefing on Wednesday morning at the NovaCare Complex:

• His reference to the team’s lack of a second-round pick in last year’s draft — Kelly shipped it to the Rams in 2015 along with Nick Foles;

• Without prompting, he connected the Eagles' lack of offensive firepower this past year to Kelly's decisions to release DeSean Jackson, trade LeSean McCoy and fail to re-sign Jeremy Maclin;

• Roseman spoke several times about the team’s lack of salary cap space going into this offseason, which is at least in part a product of Kelly’s one year running the personnel department;

• And he criticized Kelly’s handling of the quarterback position, which left the Eagles without any quarterbacks under contract following last year.

Asked specifically how difficult it’s been for him to undo some of Kelly’s ill-advised moves, here’s how Roseman responded:

“You know, I think you're just dealing with the reality of the situation. I could say sitting up here last year, it was challenging. It was a challenging situation and it starts with the quarterback position. We didn't have a starting quarterback under contract. [Sam Bradford] was a free agent. We were picking 13th with no two (second-round pick).

“And we sat down and we said if we can come out of this offseason, and sit here next season at this time and feel like we had a permanent answer at that position, we're going in the right direction.”

Howie declined to speak specifically about Maclin, Jackson and McCoy, since all are currently under contract with other teams and that could be construed as tampering.

But he certainly indirectly discussed them.

From 2008 through 2014, the seven-year span in which at least one of Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were here, the Eagles led the NFL with 77 plays of 20 yards or more per year — 41 more than the second-place Saints.

This year, they had 46 — third-fewest in the NFL and just two more than the last-place Texans and Broncos.

Of course, it was Kelly that drafted Nelson Agholor, who became the poster boy for Eagles wide receiving ineptitude.

It’s also important to note that Jackson, Maclin and McCoy were all drafted here before Roseman became general manager in 2010.

“It seems like a long time ago we were leading the National Football League in 20-[yard]-plus plays, and I don't have a DeLorean time machine to go back in time and get some of those guys back,” Roseman said.

“We have a young group. We have a young room. They need to continue to grow, and it's one of the things, among others, that we need to look at.”

After the 2014 season, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie exiled Roseman and gave Kelly full control of personnel. A year later, while firing Kelly, he restored Roseman to power and gave him the title vice president of football operations.

Roseman’s digs at Kelly were not very subtle. Roseman has always prided himself on being a salary cap guru, but Kelly’s one year as general manager left the Eagles with very little cap room today.

“It’s a unique situation for us as an organization,” Roseman said. “It’s unusual certainly since I’ve been here to have a more challenging situation.”

And this more general comment about the state that Kelly left the franchise in: “We didn't have the same amount of resources that we are used to. We didn't have a second-round pick. We had a lot of guys becoming free agents over a two-year period of time.”

He also gloated about how he recognized the Eagles’ need to find a franchise quarterback after Kelly traded Nick Foles and left the most important position on the roster essentially vacant.

“I was very vocal internally about the need to have a long-term answer at that position,” Roseman said (see story). “And felt like it was the most important thing we could possibly do.”

Roseman’s digs are interesting and make for good offseason chatter. But all that really matters is that he gets the Eagles back on track in Year 2 of his return to power.

Or else the next general manager will be the one at a press conference a year from now taking thinly-veiled shots at Roseman.

Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

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Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

Rasul Douglas made a huge play during the special teams portion of Wednesday's practice. Going 1-on-1 against veteran special teamer Najee Goode, the Eagles' rookie plowed through him and sent Goode to the turf inside the practice bubble. 

Goode bounced up and locked down the next rep, but for a few seconds, there was pure exuberance on the practice field. A bunch of Douglas' teammates ran toward him and celebrated, while coaches gave him kudos. 

A couple hours later, Douglas didn't even remember it. 

"What play?" the rookie asked. 

After making sure he was serious, out came an iPhone to show Douglas this video: 

"Oh, I don't even remember that," he said. 

While Douglas might have been locked in and focused enough to forget about the most exciting play during the open portion of Wednesday's practice, it was the kind of play that got the whole team going. 

Without remembering the specific instance, Douglas rightly guessed that it was his defensive back teammates, who ran over to congratulate him and celebrate. 

"We get so happy when one of us makes a play because we work hard and we know our goals in our room," Douglas said. "And we know our energy transforms and just passes along to other people. You can get somebody energized and they get somebody else energized." 

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to have his team in pads Wednesday in an effort to keep the team's intensity and physicality high as the team gets ready for the NFC Championship Game. 

That play helped. 

"I think Coach Pederson talks about it all the time; match his intensity," linebacker Nate Gerry said. "So when you see something like that, I guess that's matching the intensity. It just kind of sets the tone for practice."

During the Eagles' first-round bye, the team's players council went to Pederson and asked for an extra day in pads. Pederson planned on one leading into the divisional round game against the Falcons, but his veteran leaders didn't want to go an extra week without that intensity, so the Eagles strapped on their pads. 

They did it again last week and they did it again Wednesday. 

All season the Eagles have believed they're going to play the way they practice, so it shouldn't be much of a shocker. Pederson and the Eagles — despite all the hoopla around the championship — tried to treat Wednesday like any other Wednesday. In part, that meant getting the pads on and going through a tough practice. 

"We ain't going to play on Sunday without pads, so you just have keep in tune with what you do," Douglas said. "I think pads are good." 

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

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Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has moved into the top 10 in NFL jersey sales this week, according to national sales figures from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This week’s Dick’s Jersey Report shows Ertz making the biggest jump in the top 10, moving up 22 spots from No. 29 last week to No. 7 this week.

“There must have been a lot of women’s soccer fans buying jerseys this week,” Ertz said jokingly, referring to his wife Julie, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Could be. It’s not like Ertz had a huge game Saturday. He caught three passes for 32 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons in the conference semifinal playoff round at the Linc. But he did make his first Pro Bowl this year and finished the season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught the miracle last-second pass from Case Keenum to send the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia on Sunday, also made a huge jump, moving from No. 23 to No. 4.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz remains in the No. 2 position in jersey sales, despite not playing since he tore his ACL Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Only Tom Brady’s jersey sold better over the past week.

The rest of the top 10 is Rob Gronkowski third, Antonio Brown fifth, Leonard Fournette sixth, T.J. Watt eighth, Julio Jones ninth and Le’Veon Bell 10th.

Wentz remains the top-selling jersey this year, according to Dick’s after finishing last year at No. 3. Tom Brady, the top-selling jersey last year, is No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Gronkowski.

There are no Eagles other than Wentz and Ertz in the top 50.