Eagles

Roseman: Band-Aids yield 10-6, and that’s not good enough

Roseman: Band-Aids yield 10-6, and that’s not good enough

When you lumber through eight years without a playoff win and three years without even so much as a playoff appearance, there's no shortage of reasons.

And Howie Roseman put a lot of the blame for the Eagles’ nearly decade-long run without a single postseason victory squarely on his own shoulders Wednesday, saying the team’s drafting “hasn’t been good enough” and conceding the Eagles have been guilty of pursuing mediocrity over the years.

Roseman is beginning his second year as executive vice president of football operations after a year out of power while Chip Kelly ran personnel operations. From 2010 through 2014, Roseman was the Eagles’ general manager.

The Eagles haven't won a playoff game during Roseman's tenure running the team.

“I think you go back and you look at 2008, when we were in the (NFC) Championship Game and then 2009 and 2010, 10-6 isn’t good enough to get home-field advantage, to compete for a championship,” he said.

“It’s a huge edge to have that bye, so we’ve got to build the team with that in mind. I think some of the things we’ve done over the past few years have been to get to 10-6 and that’s not good enough.”

From 2001 through 2004, the Eagles reached four straight NFC Championship Games, and those teams won 11, 12, 12, 13 games. Three of them earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field throughout. In 2001 and 2008, they reached the NFC Championship Game via the wild-card route.

The Eagles lost all those NFC title games other than 2004, but six of the 15 postseason wins the Eagles have recorded since 1960 came during their three consecutive years as a No. 1 seed.

So Roseman’s message is that you have to build for greatness, not just to get into the tournament.

“When you look at it, there are certain things that it’s almost impossible to win a championship without,” Roseman said. “And I think when I look back at some of the mistakes I made, they were about just trying to get into the playoffs and believing that once you get into the playoffs maybe you have a chance every year because it’s a shorter field and you can just get hot.

“But really when you look at the Super Bowl championships, over the last decade, really since the Super Bowl was in effect, they all have a franchise quarterback.”

That’s why after years of instability at quarterback — Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford — the priority last offseason became identifying and acquiring a quarterback of the future.

So Roseman wheeled and dealed, moved up to the No. 2 pick, and selected Carson Wentz, who had an auspicious rookie year.

Now the challenge is surrounding him with 52 other pieces of a potential championship run.

“Your easiest way to be a perennial contender is with (a franchise quarterback),” Roseman said. “And to have a guy like Carson makes it feel like you’re doing the right thing when you don’t do a lot of band-aids.”

Roseman used the phrase band-aids a few times during his 30-minute State of the Franchise address Wednesday in the NovaCare Complex auditorium.

Band-aids is essentially his phrase for free agents.

The Eagles haven’t drafted consistently well since the 2002 draft delivered Lito Sheppard, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown and Michael Lewis.

So they’ve had to fill needs with free agents with mixed results. Which really helps explain a mediocre 100-91 record since 2007 with postseason success just once in the last 10 years.

Free agents equals mediocrity. Drafting well equals potential success. It’s about time the Eagles recognize it. Now they have to live by it.

“When you look at 10-6 teams, you can put band-aids on some things,” Roseman said. “I think you look at the cornerback position and what we’ve done at the cornerback position is put band-aids on things.”

Such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin.

To name a few.

You can’t win that way.

Surround Wentz with elite young players over the next few years and you'll have a chance.

The Eagles haven’t nailed a draft since Roseman initially became GM in 2010, although 2013 has promise. But years of missing on players like Marcus Smith, Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Josh Huff in the first three rounds has caught up with the franchise.

Roseman was blunt about the need for drafting to improve under the new coalition of Roseman, vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas and assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl (see story).

“No question,” he said. “And again it’s one of the things where you look back and where our draft board was in January, and when we made some decisions, we compromised on guys as opposed to just sticking to the board and doing the right thing — not based on a need this year but based on who’s the best player to be part of the core going forward.

“And I sit here very confident that will not happen again.”

Roseman is also confident that the most difficult piece of the puzzle is already in place in Wentz, who threw for 3,782 yards this year despite a paucity of talent around him.

“It’s funny, because I don’t notice a lot of the articles that are around the building that are hung up, but last week I noticed an article (on the wall) that was from 2003 and talked about how the Eagles’ future was bright because they had a 26-year-old quarterback,” Roseman said.

“We have a 24-year-old quarterback. We have to do the right things so that when (he’s) taking off, the team is ready to take off with him.”

Head coach Doug Pederson raised some eyebrows this past week when he spoke of how close the Eagles are to being an elite team because they lost a bunch of close games on the way to a 7-9 record.

“We're very close,” Pederson said. “Even though the win-loss and everything is not in our favor, I think we lost six games this year by a touchdown or less, and we've just got to learn to finish those games.

“I think we're extremely close, extremely close to being a team that can compete each year for not only the NFC East but for the postseason.”

Roseman has a more realistic, more honest assessment of where the Eagles are in the big picture.

He appreciates Pederson’s enthusiasm and confidence but as the guy who has final say over personnel, he is soberly aware of how much work there still is to do.

“When you look at how hard the team is playing for him and how many close games we were in, I love that perspective from our coaching staff and our players,” Roseman said.

“We have a little different role here in the front office. There’s always going to be things that we look at and try to get better (at).

“We’re trying to compete with the best teams in the National Football League, and we’re certainly not there right now as we stand. … We have a lot of work to do here. But I feel a lot better than where we stood last year at this time.”

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

Carson Wentz had one of the best passing games of his career on Monday night. 

He completed 68 percent of his passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and had a passer rating of 126.3 in the Eagles' 34-24 win over Washington at the Linc (see breakdown)

Nobody wanted to talk about that though. 

The biggest question his teammates had in the locker room after the game was this: How the heck did he escape on that 17-yard scramble? 

On 3rd-and-8 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Wentz was seemingly sacked well behind the line of scrimmage. At least everyone thought. But that's when the 6-5, 237-pound quarterback somehow emerged from the pile and scrambled ahead for 17 yards. 

"Amazing," Nelson Agholor said. "We didn't know how he did that. Three, four plays later we are still on the sideline figuring out how he did that."

It seemed like everyone in the stadium thought Wentz was cooked on that play. The crowd didn't even start cheering until much later. Everyone in the stadium seemed pretty confused. 

The Eagles' defensive players even started getting ready to head back into the game. Malcolm Jenkins grabbed his helmet, but then looked at the video screen to see that Wentz was still going. 

"That's the magic of Carson Wentz," Jenkins said. 

Former long snapper and magician Jon Dorenbos was in the building on Monday night — and got a big ovation as he recovers from a serious health issue — but it was Wentz who pulled a rabbit out of his hat. 

"I couldn't believe he got out of that little jam," Brandon Graham said. "He just popped out of nowhere. There's something special going on right now and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

After that Wentz scramble, the Eagles went down the rest of the way and he capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Agholor. That score put them up 31-17 and put the game out of reach for Washington. The Eagles improved to 6-1 and have the best record in the NFL. 

His teammates called it magic, ridiculous and awesome. So how did Wentz escape on that play? 

He didn't know either. 

"I'm not really sure," he said. 

When Wentz wasn't scrambling all over the field — he finished the game with a career-high 64 rushing yards — he was making plays with his arm. 

Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never thrown three touchdowns in a game. He has now done that three games in a row. Before the Arizona game, Wentz had just three games with a passer rating over 100. He now has six. 

Through seven games this season, he has 17 touchdown passes, already surpassing his total from his entire rookie season. He has thrown just four interceptions. 

Before Monday, Wentz was already the Vegas favorite to win MVP. 

He showed why against Washington. 

"That's the type of guy he is, he gets out of trouble, he breaks tackles and he throws dimes," Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. "He's a great quarterback and he'll be one of the greats for a long time."  

While Wentz's 17-yard scramble was the most-talked-about play after the game, there was a close second. 

The other question was this: How the heck did he see Corey Clement in the end zone?

In the third quarter, with two defenders barreling down on him, Wentz found Clement on the right side of the end zone. Clement was about his third read on the play. 

"He's amazing," Alshon Jeffery said. "On that touchdown to Corey, I'm like, I don't know how he saw him. He must have Spiderman vision. He's great. He does a great job just making plays and seeing guys." 

Head coach Doug Pederson called the touchdown pass "one of the best plays I've seen in a long time." 

Over the last month, Wentz's elevated play has thrust the Eagles into Super Bowl discussions. If he continues like this, that's not a far-fetched scenario. 

It seems like Wentz is just in a zone right now (see Roob's observations)

Does he feel it?

"I feel good," Wentz said. "I do feel good." 

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

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AP Images

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

The Eagles' 2017 rookie class was out in force Monday night, and in a huge division showdown on national TV, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement helped the best team in football improve to 6-1.

Barnett recorded two sacks and Hollins and Clement both had dramatic touchdown catches in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc (see observations).

Barnett, the first-round pick from Tennessee, became the first Eagle rookie with a two-sack game since Trent Cole in 2005. Hollins' 64-yard TD catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie in 11 years. And Clement's circus TD catch made him the first undrafted Eagles running back in 64 years with two TD catches in a season.

The Eagles have plenty of big-time veteran stars. But this rookie class is looking awfully good right now.

Factor in third-round corner Rasul Douglas, who has played well, and record-setting kicker Jake Elliott, and that's quite a rookie class.

"We just always have a big chip on our shoulder," said Clement, who went undrafted out of Wisconsin. "When we come out here, we are always overlooked by somebody just because we are rookies, but that doesn't mean we can't make a play.

"When we're out there, we try to think and play as veterans. When we walk out there with those guys, like (Brent) Celek and all those other veterans, we want to prove that we belong.

"I don't want anybody second-guessing why we're out there on the field."

Clement was on the receiving end of a miraculous Carson Wentz effort, where he seemed to be swallowed up by the Redskins’ pass rush before floating a TD pass to Clement on a scramble drill. Clement looked like a wide receiver, sticking both feet in the right side of the end zone (see breakdown).

The catch made Clement the first undrafted Eagles rookie running back with two TD catches in a season since Hal Giancanelli in 1953.

Clement had just two touchdown catches in college, but seven games into his NFL career, he's already matched that.

How did he get tagged with the reputation that he can't catch?

"I wish I could tell you," he said. "But everybody's going to say something about somebody. So it's whether you're going to back it up or complain about it, and I chose to back it up."

Hollins and Clement became the first pair of Eagles rookies with TD catches in the same game since Jason Avant and Hank Baskett against the Falcons in 2006. Hollins' 64-yard TD is the longest by an Eagles rookie since Baskett's 89-yarder in that same game.

Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, has been targeted six times this year and has six catches for 134 yards and five first downs.

And then there's Barnett, who had just half a sack in his first six games but broke through with two Monday against a Redskins team that had allowed only eight in its first six games.

Barnett became the first rookie with a two-sack game against the Redskins since Ziggy Ansah of the Lions in 2013.

"Everybody's been telling me just keep grinding and they're going to come," Barnett said. "They all just say keep working and eventually it's going to break. It was a fun night."

Barnett's 2½ sacks are the most by an Eagles rookie defensive end since Brandon Graham had three back in 2010.

"We have a lot of guys who've been playing in the league for a while, and they give me a lot of tips and stuff, and it helps me pick up my game," Barnett said. "I'm very lucky to have those guys in the room to help me."