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Posted 08 November 2012 - 04:55 AM


Phil Sheridan: Roseman's extension shows' Eagles' unwillingness to look outside NovaCare bubble

Phil Sheridan, Inquirer Columnist
Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012, 2:01 AM

Jeff Lurie made a mistake back in June.

Giving Howie Roseman a contract extension wasn't it. The mistake was in failing to announce the extension immediately. It would have been about the 100th most newsworthy item from the surreal news conference in which Joe Banner's departure was spun as a joyful event for everyone involved.

Announcing it then would have been no big deal. Having news of Roseman's extension come out now, thanks to the relentless reporting of The Inquirer's Jeff McLane, was a big deal. The team is 3-5 and in the express lane to oblivion. Why should Roseman have more security than Andy Reid or Michael Vick?

So that was Lurie's mistake. The contract extension, said to be for four-five years, itself wasn't a mistake for one simple reason. It doesn't guarantee that Roseman will be running the Eagles' football operation until 2017. It guarantees only that he will be paid. That is the nature of the business for general managers and coaches in every sport.

Eating Roseman's contract would make an imperceptible dent in Lurie's fortune. It would cost less than some of the mistakes the franchise has made with player signing bonuses in the last few years.

And if you think Lurie would keep Roseman on just to avoid paying him for nothing, consider that Roseman is just 37 years old. He would want to continue his career in the NFL, which means he would vigorously pursue another job. If he lands one - and there is a guy in Cleveland who might be willing to take him on - Lurie is off the hook, anyway.

It's important to clarify what isn't a big issue so that we can focus instead on what is, and that is the Eagles' unwillingness to look outside their own building for some of the most important hires of the last half-decade or more.

That unwillingness festers from the delusion that the franchise is among the NFL's elite. There just aren't better people out there than those who are trained and groomed (and maybe indoctrinated) within the NovaCare bubble.

When Tom Heckert left the Eagles, Lurie and Banner and Reid didn't look for the best possible talent evaluator in the NFL. They promoted Roseman.

When Jim Johnson's illness prevented him from continuing as defensive coordinator, Reid didn't search the league for the best possible candidate. He gave the job to Sean McDermott. When he wasn't satisfied, he fired McDermott. Given a do-over, he again ignored a crop of talented defensive assistants and handed the gig to Juan Castillo.

Sometimes the inside hire is the right one. But if you never interview and engage talented people from outside your building, you run the risk of suffocating in your own stale air. And that sure looks like what's happening to the Eagles right now.

Reid did go outside two years ago when he hired Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn, two veteran line coaches. That led to problems that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. But they are position coaches. We're talking about coordinators and personnel decision makers here. The Eagles have gone hopelessly stale in those areas.

Is Roseman a good GM?

We just don't know. The available evidence - two poor drafts and one that still has a chance to work out better, some terrible free-agent signings, a mixed bag of trades - isn't very encouraging. He is unquestionably a smart, ambitious, and determined guy. He figures to improve with experience.

Here's the part we don't know, and that we never really know. In the Eagles' decision-making over the last few years, what was Roseman's role in relation to Reid's and, for that matter, Banner's?

When Lurie fired Tom Modrak and gave Reid full control of personnel decisions, he concluded that Reid had been right more often in the internal discussions that only a handful of people hear. You can be sure Lurie has a similar feel for where Roseman and Reid have differed, and who turned out to be right.

What if Roseman begged Reid not to promote Castillo? What if Reid insisted on Danny Watkins in the first round while Roseman voiced concerns about his age and relative lack of experience? What if it was the other way around?

This is information that Lurie has and we don't. Roseman should be judged accordingly.

When the season is over, Lurie has to decide on the best direction for his franchise. Who are the best possible GM and best possible head coach to make this team a Super Bowl contender? It is vital that he look well beyond the bubble, as he used to, for the answers.

If Roseman is his answer, well, he had better be right because he will set his franchise back five years if he isn't.

If Roseman isn't the answer, this contract extension isn't going to mean a thing.

Contact Phil Sheridan at psheridan@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @Sheridanscribe. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at www.philly.com/philabuster

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