When Howie Roseman was asked Saturday night about the Eagles’ vision for the offseason, he held up a piece of paper that he just happened to have next to him that he said he handed to Doug Pederson the day after the season ended.
On it he had written: “Can he run? Is he healthy? Does he love to play?”
Can he run? Easy to measure a player’s speed.
Is he healthy? That’s simple enough.
But what about the third item? Does he love to play? How do you measure that?
We're looking for people that are fundamentally different,” vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl said Saturday night. “The love and passion for football, it's non-negotiable. They're caring, their character, they do the right thing persistently, and they have a relentless playing style that you can see on tape. The motor, it burns hot. You see them finishing plays. They have a team-first mentality. They're selfless individuals.
It’s easy to say, hard to do.
We’ve all seen Eagles who had plenty of talent — big, strong and fast, had good college careers, tested well at the Combine — but just didn’t have the passion for the game that Roseman is talking about and drifted out of the league at 26 or 27 or never came close to fulfilling their potential.
You never know how millions of dollars are going to affect a young kid. Will he grow content after he gets that first contract? Or will he stay just as hungry as he was before?
“Our scouts and the personnel that are out on the road, they compile so much information on these guys and so much background information,” Pederson said. “Quite honestly, with this pandemic right now, it's made us as coaches more involved from the standpoint of just picking up the phone and, for me, calling their head coaches, calling their position coaches, and talking to whoever we can to find out about these players. You can get a sense. Obviously, we see the skill set on tape and we understand that, can the guy play football. But talking to these people really gives us a better insight into the character of the person. Does he love football? Is he passionate about his sport? Does he want to get better? And that's how we do it.”
Buddy Ryan had his faults, but he had an incredible instinct for finding those types of guys.
He used to talk about how he spotted Eric Allen on film running 70 yards across the field to try to make a tackle in the fourth quarter of a game Arizona State was losing by 41 points.
That’s the kind of player he wanted on his team. He drafted him in the second round and Allen had a brilliant career.
Those are the kinds of players the Eagles want.
Is this a job to them? Or is this their life.
“We have an unbelievable fan base," Roseman said. "We have the best fans in the world. ...And so for us, they understand when guys love to play, when guys care about football. We didn't want to leave that out. I didn't want to just get guys who can run and were healthy but didn't love to play. Coach doesn't want to get those guys; Andy doesn't want to get those guys. ...So it was just part of what we believe is important to add to our football team.”
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