The Philadelphia Eagles have had a very unique dynamic in their front office since Howie Roseman was reinstated as the team’s General Manager following the departure of Chip Kelly. Howie has hired 3 head coaches, more than anyone in the NFL since 2000, and seemingly came very close to a 4th this offseason. Howie is one of the 5 longest-tenured NFL GMs, and 2 of the top 5 are team owners. The hierarchy the Eagles have is unusual, but it also appears to be just the way the owner wants it.
It has been speculated that Lurie has made personnel hires intending to be able to wield his power via Howie Roseman. Howie is his lifeline to the team and Jeffrey Lurie appears to exude power through him like a channel. He has maintained that power during his time as owner, except for a year of the Chip Kelly era. Which is something he admitted he regret doing.
“Yes, I would say I regret giving him the kind of authority I gave him”
That is a rare admittance of failure from Jeff Lurie regarding the Philadelphia Eagles.
When he began to dislike what he saw on the field during Chip Kelly’s final season he seemingly blamed the Coach, stating it was due to poor execution, a code word for bad coaching. He did not even wait until the end of the season to fire him. A statement that showed his disdain.
During the last days of Doug Pederson’s Head Coaching tenure, Lurie reportedly stepped in to advise his dislike of Doug’s coaching candidates and his choices for the upcoming season. It has been reported that this disagreement is what led to Doug Pederson being relieved of his job.
Lurie has never hired anyone to be the Eagles Head Coach who was previously an NFL HC. It has appeared, even pre-Howie Roseman, that Lurie never wanted to give that type of control to someone else in the organization. He has been a great owner but seems to be involved more than most have realized, even if it has been through having his will enforced by the General Manager.
Howie Roseman began his career with the Eagles about as unlikely as one could start: By sending letters to every NFL team until someone gave him a chance to get his foot in the door.
Howie’s name was becoming well-known around league circles. He secured an interview with the Jets and the Eagles. Then Eagles team President Joe Banner joked:
“Was this guy the most persistent guy in the history of America or was he crazy? Should we stay away from him, or should one of us interview him?”
Howie was grinding his way through the ranks for 10 years and in 2010 he was named General Manager (although it is widely speculated he served in an advisory role to then Head Coach Andy Reid who had the final say on the roster).
His first hire as a Head Coach would be the one he and Lurie most regret and where the genesis of not relinquishing control to another Head Coach began.
During the second year of Kelly’s stint as HC with the Eagles, he intimated the team’s setback was due to Howie’s personnel decisions and his disagreements with the front office. Specifically, Howie Roseman.
Chip asked for total control of the roster the following season and his request was granted.
The 2015 season was a disaster. Terrible trades, bad free agent signings, and overall poor personnel decisions translated to bad play on the field. The team was undisciplined, and declining every week. Before the season ended, Chip Kelly was fired and Lurie anointed his “favorite son” back as acting GM.
Howie and Lurie rebuilt the roster their way, and fast. They won a Super Bowl together 2 years later and have been trying to replicate that magic ever since. Their winning blueprint appears to be to hire a defensive coordinator who has full autonomy on that side of the ball and an offensive-minded Head Coach who has strong personal relationships with the players, does not mind Howie and Jeff having the final say in the roster, and inputs (if not deciding) on the coaching decisions and their staff.
Doug Pederson played along until he wanted the autonomy to choose coaches. He tried to use the capital he thought he had earned by winning the team’s first Super Bowl as leverage. He was fired. In came another unknown coach to “run” the team.
Some did not like Nick from the moment he first spoke at his introductory press conference. He took more criticism when he brought up a flower in a press conference later in the season.
But soon after that, the team started to exceed. A quarterback many had lost faith in became an MVP candidate, and Sirianni led his team to a Super Bowl. Over the first 11 weeks of the 2023 season, all seemed well. Then an unexpected losing streak prematurely ended their season.
Once again questions arose in regards to who was making the hires of the assistant coaches, and if the Head Coach had the autonomy to make his own choices.
For starters, Brian Johnson does not seem like he was Sirianni’s choice as OC.
“Was Brian my guy when I first got here? No. I never worked with him, I didn’t know him very well”
But Nick has never said one way or the other, and if his actions protecting the players are any indication, he likely never will. Sirianni has developed a rapport with the players that includes keeping things in-house, and that did not start this season.
Jordan Mailata shared a time when Nick protected him in 2022 versus the Houston Texans.
“The Houston game, back-to-back sacks. he (Nick) came out the next day and he said that we should have ran shorter routes, we weren’t timed up. Nah, I just got beat. And he went out there, and he tried to take some of the blame.”
AJ Brown recently discussed an example of Nick taking the blame for the players this season versus Seattle.
“That was on us, we messed that up, we improvised and we went on our own and Nick came out and said I wanted to try and get a flag or something crazy like that.”
Mailata remembered when heard Nick take the fall for that as well.
“When he said that, that was wild. I know damn well, you lying MF, I know you didn’t do that just to try and get a flag. he’s taking one for the team”
AJ then expressed what he thinks of his coach.
“He made himself look like a fool, for us. I have nothing but respect for him, not all coaches do that, we ride with Nick”
“When I played and that was a long time ago, knowing a coach had my back was really important to me and you’re a product of things that you’ve went through. I know that’s important, I felt that it would be important to them as well and we just move on and correct the mistakes that we make from that. Myself and the players.”
Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie do not just have a Coach who takes the sword for them, he does it for the players as well.
If this is the structure in which the Eagles are run, then it should not be that big of a surprise Nick Sirianni still has a job. He’s doing his job. He coaches within the parameters he is given and accepts the choices that the front office makes for whom he will be working with.
It would appear Sirianni takes the hits if things go bad, while Howie and Lurie get the adulation from the fan base and pat themselves on the back when they win.
The best of both worlds, likely, just how they set it up.
As always, thank you for reading.
Follow me on X @PHLEagleNews
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara