When “Fire Howie” is trending on Twitter because bored Phillies fans are chanting it during a loss to the Giants, you really wonder how long this can go on.
GM for life? Maybe not.
Let’s think about this.
Roseman has been Eagles general manager for 11 of the last 12 years and while there’s a lot of blame to go around, he is responsible to a great extent for the Eagles’ gradual decline from Super Bowl champs to playoff team to 4-win embarrassment.
Now, he was also responsible to a great extent for that Super Bowl championship, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Just three years ago he was named NFL Executive of the Year. And the Eagles have reached the postseason in five of his first 10 seasons as GM. Take out the 7-9 record in 2015, when Chip Kelly served as his own GM, and the Eagles are 84-75-1 with Howie as GM, and that .528 winning percentage is 9th-best in the NFL. The Packers and Saints are the only NFC teams to reach the playoffs more during this past decade.
That said, it is fair to wonder how long this power structure will remain considering not only Roseman’s recent draft record – abysmal since his power was restored in 2016 – but just the general state of the franchise.
There isn’t a single proven elite player under 30 on the roster – Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert are very good but not yet elite – and the Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl player outside the first round since Jason Kelce in 2011. A decade ago.
I know what you’re thinking.
Howie is GM for life.
He’s survived three coaching changes, and it can be unthinkable to imagine Jeff Lurie making a change.
Two things come to mind.
Joe Banner and Andy Reid.
Lurie and Banner grew up together. They were childhood friends. Lurie hired Banner literally within 12 hours after buying the Eagles, and Banner was pivotal in helping build a franchise that from 2000 through 2010 had the 4th-best record in the NFL and reached the playoffs 9 of 11 years. Banner helped build a culture in the NovaCare Complex that made long-term success possible.
And Reid was “coach for life,” as Lurie called him one summer morning at Lehigh. Big Red just kept piling up the wins and playoff appearances and even without a Super Bowl championship it seemed he would coach here as long as he wanted.
Lurie began giving Roseman more responsibility and that meant less for Banner, and he left the organization soon after. And after the disastrous 2012 season Lurie fired his “coach for life.”
Lurie has his quirks, but he is a smart guy and for the most part he’s been a very good owner for over a quarter of a century.
He knows. He might act like he doesn’t, but he knows exactly what Roseman’s strengths and weaknesses are, and he may defend every move, but I just don’t believe he’s so naïve that if things don’t get better he won’t eventually make a change.
Banner wasn’t president for life, Reid wasn’t coach for life and Roseman isn’t GM for life.
It’s important to look at this from Lurie’s perspective. Roseman brought a Lombardi Trophy to the NovaCare Complex, he built the Super Bowl roster and he’s stood loyally by Lurie’s side in some capacity for two mostly successful decades.
It’s also important to look at this from Roseman’s perspective. He’s Public Enemy No. 1 in the city he brought a Super Bowl championship, and it’s fair to wonder how much vitriol anybody can take in his position. Not that it’s unfair. It comes with the job. But Roseman is a human being, and it can’t be much fun settling down with the family after dinner to watch the Phillies and hearing fans chanting for you to be fired. Maybe at some point he’ll want a change.
For me, it boils down to one thing.
This team doesn’t have much.
Roseman hasn’t drafted a defensive Pro Bowler since 2012 and he’s never drafted one outside the first round. The only Pro Bowler he’s drafted since being restored to power is Carson Wentz, and we all saw how that turned out. The Kelce-Cox-Graham-Ertz-Johnson nucleus is on its last legs.
Can Roseman survive another bad draft? Maybe. And you never know until a couple years later when a bad draft really is one.
But if things don’t get better, I could see Lurie looking at that 2022 draft with a likely three 1st-round picks and thinking maybe it’s time to give someone else a crack at this. And it’s not like Lurie is going to make a change because of Phillies fans chanting “Fire Howie,” but he is acutely aware of how the franchise is perceived. And right now it’s not perceived in a positive light.
It’s hard to imagine. But as we saw from Banner and Reid, nothing lasts forever. And there’s no more powerful motivation for change than a football team that keeps losing.
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