Three days after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs, General Manager Howie Roseman and Head Coach Doug Pederson addressed the media to answer questions, give their input on the 2019 season, and give a preview of what lies ahead for the team this upcoming offseason. There were a lot of interesting quotes from both, but I want to focus on and give my reaction to some of the ones that stood out to me the most from Roseman.
“When we look at our team from 2017 to 2019, we knew that we had one team. Really a team that we were going to basically stick with. We didn’t have a lot of resources in terms of draft picks. That’s on me. We made trades for some veteran players to go win.”
This was Howie’s opening statement and it grabbed my attention right away. It confirmed his acknowledgment of two things I’ve repeatedly talked about: 1) His approach to build around the same group of core players for the past 3 years and plug-in holes via free agency and trades; and 2) his reluctance to give up draft capital in 2020 and beyond.
The traditional belief is that you build a championship team through the draft, and that still holds. But what Roseman has done since 2017 is recognize that Carson Wentz was a franchise talent at the QB position on a rookie deal. If he could take advantage of that by supplementing the roster with good talent through free agency and the draft while giving Wentz weapons to succeed with it could speed up the process of building a Super Bowl contender in the short term; and that’s exactly what happened.
However, the window of opportunity with that main group of guys has begun to close and Howie is aware of that. That explains why he’s emphasized not only keeping his 2020 draft picks (and not pulling the trigger on trades for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jalen Ramsey) but also making sure he continues to gain more draft capital from the compensatory draft pick formula. The Eagles are projected to have 10 picks in this upcoming draft, a far cry from having 5 picks in 2018 and 6 picks in 2019 (the last pick was used to trade for Hassan Ridgeway). No team is going to bat 1.000 when it comes to their draft class, therefore it’s important to not only have as many picks as possible.
The 2020 offseason is going to bring about a shift in approach for Howie Roseman. Will he still be aggressive? Of course, he will always be. But you can expect to see him and the rest of the Eagles front office prioritize the draft more than they have before. And I know some of you reading will say “Howie Roseman sucks at drafting”, to which I say “He’s not as bad as you think” and I would encourage you to read my A2D article titled “Analyzing Howie Roseman’s Drafts” (link below).
As we look back at the 3 draft classes, it’s a mixed big back of results.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) October 26, 2019
“Is that a factor for us when we look at college production and we kind of see how important that is to us? We got to go back and look at that.”
Speaking of my previous article, in it I talked about Joe Douglas’ tendency to focus on draft prospects’ overall college production over athletic talent in his player evaluations. Well, Howie spoke on that during the press conference and how that’s led to some of the decisions they’ve made in the past 3 drafts.
With Joe Douglas now in New York, it’s time to separate from that mindset. I’m not saying college production should be completely ignored, and I’m sure Howie isn’t saying that either. But when he mentioned how 3 rookie wide receivers had fewer than 40 catches a season in college who were able to be very productive in the NFL, that shows me that Howie knows that production might not be as important as they originally thought. There are so many examples of college players who didn’t have the best careers at that level who get to the pro level and become great. And there are many examples of college players who had great college careers but failed to translate to their games to the pro level. It’s going to be important for the Eagles scouting department to identify which prospects have the talent to succeed in the NFL regardless of what they did in college.
And by the way, he never mentioned Joe Douglas’ name when talking about this, so he wasn’t deflecting blame or pointing fingers at Douglas. I’ve seen some fans try to make that argument, so I wanted to be clear about that.
“When we acquired Genard we knew that to get the best of him it would take an offseason. He was someone that we thought was a young player who had explosive traits and when we talked to coach and the defensive coaching staff they said this trade would pay off more in the future than it will for the course of the year.”
I was excited to hear what Howie had to say about Genard Avery. In contrast to the Golden Tate trade in 2018, they knew that trading from Avery was more of a move for the long-term as opposed to a “win now” move.
Let’s look at the EDGE position as it stands now. Brandon Graham is still a good EDGE player, but we all know that he’s in the last leg of his career. Derek Barnett is a solid player, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations. And honestly, I don’t think he’ll ever be more than what he is now. So, having two young and explosive pass rushers in Avery and Josh Sweat is very exciting. I’ve already spoken in length about the potential I see in Sweat, and after studying Avery more I can see why Cleveland Browns fans hated seeing him go. Avery can develop into a very good situational pass rusher for a defense that thrives on getting pressure with their front 4. Don’t be surprised to see Avery make an impact in 2020 similar to the way Sweat made an impact in 2019.
“What Darren did do for Miles and Boston, those guys for the rest of their careers will be affected by Darren.”
I know there are a lot of fans that hated seeing Sproles return to the team, and I completely understand why. But whether you agree with it or not, what Howie said about it can’t go ignored. He talked about Sproles’ importance as a reliable kick returner, but even more, his role as a mentor for Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Duce Staley deserves a lot of credit for the development of both running backs, but Sproles does as well. Sanders and Scott have both been quoted saying how much they’ve learned from Sproles, and after seeing how far they’ve come and their impact on the team late in the season, you have to be very grateful for what a veteran like Sproles has done for this Eagles team.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) December 12, 2019
Good execution on the toss play here by Miles Sanders. pic.twitter.com/x6JKNiOGfi
— Charles “Chux” Maranan (@ChuxMaranan) January 7, 2020
“I wasn’t good enough. We’re not playing right now. That wasn’t our goal, that wasn’t our expectation. I will do a better job.”
Finally, I love how Howie Roseman held himself accountable. He’s come under fire a lot this past season, and deservedly so. Overall, the moves he made (or didn’t make) didn’t work out. It would be easy for him to deflect blame or to shrug his shortcomings aside, but he didn’t do that. Some fans laugh when Howie’s resume gets separated into two stints: Pre-Chip Kelly and Post-Chip Kelly. But the reason why I differentiate the two is because Howie came out of that time off a better GM. He looked at himself in the mirror and didn’t run away from his failures. There are plenty of front office people around the league that are too stubborn to do that, but Howie’s not one of them. Looking at your mistakes and fixing them is something that I’ll always respect and want on my team. Despite the disappointments of 2019, I still have faith in Howie Roseman going forward.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) January 8, 2020