As reports emerge by the minute, all signs point to a serious power struggle developing inside the NovaCare Complex. Clearly, the departure of Tom Gamble was a firing, and also a chess move by owner Jeff Lurie to tip the balance in GM Howie Roseman’s favor.
With alleged sources saying Chip Kelly has “inquired about leaving,” one of Kelly and Roseman may not be in town by the end of next week. Other sources claim Roseman’s people have kicked the tires on the New York Jets’ GM opening, one that doesn’t have any front-running candidate at the moment.
Eagles fans have already showed their support for coach Kelly, and rightly so. Kelly has taken a 4-12 team to 20-12 in the past two years combined. Kelly’s unique offense has proven its worth at the pro level, and has made many NFL defenses into rubble. Though he has room to grow, Kelly is one of the brightest young coaches in the NFL, and will only continue to improve as he gains experience. Finding the right coach can be incredibly difficult, and franchises are often set back three-to-five years if the wrong one is hired. Kelly truly is important to the on-field success of this team.
That being said, Kelly has failed as a personnel evaluator. Kelly ran star receiver DeSean Jackson out of town without claiming any compensation for the team. He could easily have waited until training camp was nearing, as receiver injuries would undoubtedly prompted a team to move for Jackson then, and actually pay the Eagles something in return.
This blunder is followed by the selection of LB Marcus Smith. At this point, LB stands as much for “left bench: as it does “linebacker:” Smith lacks aggressiveness and strength to play in an NFL front seven. Kelly publicly took responsibility for Smith’s selection earlier in 2014, and moved him to inside linebacker midway through the season. This clearly slowed his growth as a player, because Smith now had to learn new concepts having just barely comprehended the ones taught to him as an outside linebacker. The outcome? Disaster.
Kelly’s 2014 errors were topped off with the numerous Oregon busts, like defensive end Taylor Hart, promising, yet puzzling receiver Josh Huff, and Pac-12 safety Ed Reynolds of Stanford. These three players are some of Kelly’s favorites from his Oregon days, but clearly will have to make serious strides to survive in the NFL.
General manager Howie Roseman has also made mistakes, but is needed in the organization. Roseman led the way in the 2012 draft, taking DE Fletcher Cox, linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry, and cornerback Brandon Boykin. In truth, Roseman built the Eagles front seven in the 2012 and 2013 drafts, and added some pieces elsewhere through the later rounds. To say he hasn’t made mistakes, and that he doesn’t have ideal football experience, isn’t out of the question. However, very much like quarterback Nick Foles, Roseman has proven he can succeed at this level. Roseman now has to prove it again in a crucial offseason, if he survives this struggle of course.
Obviously, Chip Kelly will garner much of the fan appreciation as the rumors swirl. However, both bodies are needed if the Eagles are going to return to Super Bowl contention. A productive free agency period, followed by a fruitful draft, are the only remedies for a playoff-less season. Let’s hope Kelly and Roseman made a New Year’s resolution: to stop struggling for supremacy in the front office, and fight together for supremacy in the National Football League.