Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas are sitting in comfy chairs facing a couple of dozen members of the media, and the subject of their working relationship comes up.
“What do you guys like about working together?” they’re asked.
“Not much,” Roseman deadpans, and everybody in the room cracks up.
It was funny, and it just goes to show you how terrific the relationship is between the two most important guys in the Eagles' scouting department.
It was a long time coming.
Roseman, during his decade running the Eagles’ scouting department, has gone through a number of No. 2 personnel executives, including Jason Licht, Tom Gamble, Ed Marynowicz, Ryan Grigson and Louis Riddick.
And Riddick, now with ESPN, was very public in his assertion that Roseman’s track record proved he was difficult to work with.
When the Eagles cut ties with Gamble late in 2014, Riddick tweeted as much:
Philly "parting ways" with Gamble now? The pattern continues. #SMH— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) December 31, 2014
If you can't see what is really going on there, then....— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) December 31, 2014
But you don’t hear that kind of thing very much anymore.
You don’t hear it at all.
And as Roseman will tell you, the turnover was really just the product of the franchise searching for the right combination of people running the front office.
By all accounts, they have that now.
There’s been a lot of vindication for Roseman since he was restored to power following Chip Kelly’s firing.
And both Roseman and Douglas believe their healthy, productive, honest relationship has had a lot to do with the Eagles’ recent success.
I think the best part about our relationship — and really the relationships we have in the building — is that people aren’t afraid to disagree, people aren’t afraid to say, ‘That’s not what I think,’ and then all of us I think do a good job of sitting back and thinking about what the other person says,” Roseman said. “I know since Joe’s been here I probably need three or four hands for things I thought when I entered his office or starting the discussion and I came back the next day and I said, ‘You know what? I think what you said makes a lot of sense, I think that’s what we should do.’ And I think the same thing from him. The honest conversations. There’s a lot of things that Joe is, and being a ’Yes Man’ isn’t one of them, and I think that’s really been the best part about our building, that we have a lot of opinions, a lot of strong opinions, we have a lot of good people in our building, and nobody is just agreeing for the sake of agreeing.
Douglas began his NFL scouting career in a similar environment in Baltimore, where he won two Super Bowl rings working under legendary GM Ozzie Newsome.
After a year with the Bears, Douglas joined the Eagles immediately after the 2016 draft, and he’s widely credited for helping build a roster that won a Super Bowl in 2017 and came within a play or two of reaching another NFC Championship Game last year.
We’re both extremely passionate about this game and we want nothing more than to win championships at the highest level,” Douglas said. “I think what makes our relationship work is that we’re not afraid to have tough conversations. Oftentimes we can set our egos aside and come up with the best solutions for the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s been a wild ride for Roseman, who first joined the Eagles as a 24-year-old salary cap intern in 2000 and moved up the ranks to general manager in 2010.
In 2017, just a year after his one-year banishment at the hands of Kelly, he was selected as NFL Executive of the Year.
But Roseman is quick to credit owner Jeff Lurie for creating a culture where it’s possible to have this sort of productive front office, where every voice is heard and taken seriously.
“It starts with Jeffrey,” Roseman said. “Jeffrey’s big on having collaboration and wanting to hear everyone’s voice and their opinions and so when you have an owner who fosters that kind of dynamic and gets everyone in a room and says, ‘I want to hear what you’re saying,’ whether you’re in a coaching staff, whether you’re in the front office, whether you’re in personnel, whether you’re in analytics, it’s our job to follow his lead.”
The key is having a group of people who respect each other enough to listen to dissenting opinions and not take it personally.
That seems to be the case not just with Roseman and Douglas but with director of player personnel Andy Weidl, senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch and the rest of the Eagles' sprawling scouting department.
It’s our responsibility to hire people who aren’t afraid to have differences of opinions, but at the same time when we make a decision, to walk out of that room and all be aligned,” Roseman said. “We have a lot of trust in each other and the reason for that is because we’ve had success on the field, and when you have success on the field people feel more confident in the process and the way you do things. It’s fun. Put a camera in these debates and discussions, it would be fun to watch one day.
This week, the Douglas-Roseman front office will draft together for the third time. It’s an important draft, with the Eagles holding three of the first 57 picks for the first time in 25 years.
There will be disagreements, there will be arguments, there might even be some shouting.
But in the end, it should lead to the Eagles drafting some pretty good players.
“There’s mutual respect,” Douglas said. “Because everyone’s done the work, everyone’s put their time in, everyone’s been able to check their ego at the door and just come to the best solution for the Philadelphia Eagles.”
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