Howie Roseman's underrated role in Eagles' improbable run to playoffs

Howie Roseman's underrated role in Eagles' improbable run to playoffs

Andy Reid used to say it doesn’t matter where you find good players, as long as you find them. Chris Long put it a little more poetically: “The play doesn’t care who made it.”

The Eagles haven’t drafted well. We all know that. They don’t have the best track record recently signing free agents. We know that. 

Names like Chase Daniel, Marcus Smith, Mike Wallace, Danny Watkins and Zach Brown have become punchlines more than anything.

Yet here we are. The Eagles won their last four games, won the NFC East title and are one of just four teams on their way to the playoffs for the third straight year.

Howie Roseman has taken a lot of heat for many of his moves, much of it deserved. 

The Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl player on defense since Fletcher Cox in 2012 and moves like guaranteeing Alshon Jeffery’s 2020 contract, exercising Nelson Agholor’s $9.4 million 2019 option, drafting JJ Arcega-Whiteside over Terry McLaurin or D.K. Metcalf, bringing back Darren Sproles for another year and so on leave Roseman open to plenty of scrutiny.

But the Eagles are in the playoffs once again, and they got there while missing most of their projected offense and a significant chunk of their defense, and when you see former practice squad guys like Josh Perkins, Boston Scott, Deontay Burnett, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Jake Elliott and Greg Ward make play after play after play, you realize it’s more than just luck.

They didn’t just show up here. They’re here because Roseman and his staff identified every one of these unknown, unheralded guys as potential contributors, and whether you find a playmaker in the first round of the draft while millions of people watch on national TV or sign someone to your practice squad without anybody noticing, it doesn’t matter.

If LeBlanc was a second-round pick, Scott was a third-round pick, Ward a fourth-rounder and Perkins a fifth, we’d all be celebrating last year’s draft. 

But they all became Eagles last year, they’re all former practice squad players, and they were all enormous Sunday in the biggest game of the year with a division title on the line.

The Eagles beat the Giants 34-17 and all 34 points were scored by former practice squad players.

Those points count just as much as if they were scored by first-round picks.

And that win was just as dramatic and just as exciting and just as memorable as it would have been if a bunch of premium draft picks caught all those passes, scored all those touchdowns, made all those plays.

Roseman is an easy target sometimes, and when you just focus on the Eagles’ draft record, his performance hasn’t been great, although the Eagles certainly nailed the Miles Sanders pick. 

But when you break down what Roseman, vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl and the personnel staff does, it goes far beyond the draft.

It’s about finding players. No matter where you get them.

Now, this isn’t to say Roseman has cobbled together a championship roster out of a bunch of practice squad players. This isn’t a Super Bowl team. 

And looking at the future, there are some major concerns. 

The Eagles desperately need playmakers on defense and outside receivers on offense. 

Their best linemen on both sides of the ball are older players, and at some point in the next couple years, many of them will have to be replaced. That won’t be easy.

But give credit where credit is due. The Eagles are rolling right now, and these way-under-the-radar moves Roseman has made are a big reason why. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Drew Brees' comments on Colin Kaepernick, kneeling draw anger from fellow athletes

Drew Brees' comments on Colin Kaepernick, kneeling draw anger from fellow athletes

Drew Brees said Wednesday he still feels kneeling during the national anthem is "disrespectful", as protestors across the nation speak out about institutional racism.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback said in 2016 that he "wholeheartedly" disagreed with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the anthem as a way to protest racism in the U.S. and in the country's police system.

On Wednesday, Brees returned to those words amid displays from citizens, including fellow athletes, across the country.

Here's how Brees explained his stance in an interview with Yahoo! Finance:

I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country. 

Let me just tell you what I see, what I feel, when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army, and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country, and to try and make our country, and this world, a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about. 

And in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed - not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the 60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. 

And is everything right with our country right now? No, it's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do, by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we all can do better, and that we are all part of the solution.

Many, including 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, think Brees is missing the point of the current national conversation:

Protesters began demonstrating over the weekend in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis last Monday night by a police officer in an incident caught on camera. The officer kneeled on his neck for an extended period of time while Floyd was handcuffed.

Brees' comments have drawn blowback from many in the sports world, including some Philly athletes. 

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay voiced his displeasure:

Sixers forward Tobias Harris expressed his displeasure:

Eagles safety Jalen Mills weighed in:

Eagles running back Miles Sanders retweeted this tweet from Titans wideout A.J. Brown:

Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas retweeted this tweet from Lions safety Jayron Kearse:

Sixers forward Mike Scott retweeted this tweet from Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks:

Former Eagles running back Jordan Howard also chimed in:

Brees' comments come after a number of prominent white athletes, including Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, have tried to use their voices and platforms to lift up the voices and experiences of black people in the United States who are tired of not being heard and understood.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

We learned two things on Tuesday night about the NFL’s restrictions for training camps this summer:

One is that NFL teams will reportedly be required to stay at their own facilities this summer. That won’t be a big deal for the Eagles who haven’t held training camp at Lehigh University since 2012. 

But the other probably will affect them. 

Based on a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams on Tuesday night, joint practices will be prohibited this year. 

While this decree makes sense when we’re talking about limiting exposure during the COVID-19 age, it could throw a wrinkle in the Eagles’ summer plans. While we don’t know for sure that the Birds were going to hold joint practices, we do know Doug Pederson is quite fond of them. 

The Eagles practiced with the Dolphins in 2017 and the Ravens in 2019. The only reason they didn’t have joint practices in 2018 was because the schedule didn’t work out. 

And this year, an obvious joint practice opponent would have been the Patriots, who come to Philly for Week 3 of the preseason. The Patriots held joint practices from 2012-17 and held joint practices with two teams last summer. They practiced with the Eagles in 2013. 

The Patriots open their 2020 preseason schedule with the Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, their former defensive coordinator. They also held joint practices with the Lions last year too, so perhaps the Patriots would have practiced with them. But they could have held double joint practices again this year if allowed. 

The Eagles also open their preseason against Frank Reich’s Colts and then go to Miami for Week 2. They obviously have a history with Reich and they held joint practices with the Dolphins a few years ago. So there were plenty of options this summer. 

But you can forget all that. 

So what will change now that we know the Eagles can’t hold joint practices? 

Well, they’re probably going to have to play a little harder during the preseason, especially in the third preseason game. Historically, that third preseason game has been the dress rehearsal game. But last year, Pederson got a lot of that work in during the joint practices with the Ravens.

Pederson said coaches could actually evaluate better in joint practices than they could during preseason games. 

"Yeah, because in practice sometimes you don't get all the situations in a game that you'd like to see your players in," Pederson said last summer. "So practices, I can set practices up that way. I can set them up hard. I can set them up where we're in pads, or going live, whatever it might be that we can really get a true evaluation of a player.

"The only real change from a game to a practice is in a game you don't get to do it over. At least in a practice setting, if we make a mistake, we can line up and do it again, and so we can correct that mistake right away.  In preseason games, we can't do that. We get a little bit better evaluation in practice in that case."

Another element the Eagles will miss from joint practices is the break in monotony. It gets old facing your teammates in practice for five to six weeks and going against another team can provide a boost. 

For now, the Eagles are fully planning to begin their training camp at the NovaCare Complex in late July. They have held their entire offseason program virtually. Pederson has previously said the Eagles will need a full training camp to prepare for an on-time start to the 2020 season.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles