The Eagles had just gotten throttled at home by the Redskins. The loss, their fifth in seven tries, dropped their record to 6-9 and buried any faint playoff hopes for a second straight season. The year was 2015 and that would be the last game that Chip Kelly coached the team. The Eagles owner knew it was time for a change.
Jeff Lurie pulled the plug on the Kelly era less than three full years in. It was the best move he has made in his nearly quarter century owning the club. Kelly's stubborn, know-it-all, abrasive, locker room fracturing personality has been well documented. Lurie knew he made a mistake and set about correcting it.
Re-enter Howie Roseman who Lurie chose to marginalize in favor of Kelly, yet keep in the building. It was an unorthodox move to say the least. But Lurie trusted his gut and also knew the work that Roseman had done during his year-long hiatus as chief decision maker for the organization. Instead of stewing on his demotion, Roseman looked in the mirror and sought out input from others in similar positions in the sporting world and beyond. Lurie also smartly insisted Roseman bring in a respected personnel man. Joe Douglas, who spent years under the tutelage of Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore and a season in Chicago, was the choice.
The next crucial decision was hiring the right coach. Lurie and Roseman knew they had to bring in someone polar opposite personality-wise from Kelly. Locker room, front office, and building fissures needed to be healed, that much was obvious. But the guy needed to be able to coach as well. Lurie knew Doug Pederson very well from both his time playing and coaching here under Andy Reid. Pederson's embracing, players coach personality was apparent to anyone who had worked or spent time with him. The question was: could he coach?
Roseman and crew's bold trades to maneuver up to snag Carson Wentz second overall in the 2016 draft were a sign that they were going to be aggressive and unafraid in their approach. A trait we'd soon find out was shared by the new head coach. Teddy Bridgewater's injury and Sam Bradford's subsequent trade opened the door for Wentz to start as a rookie and recouped a first-rounder parted with to move up to grab the rookie signal caller. Pederson's and Wentz's rookie season had the typical ups and downs. Rome wasn't built in a day. But you could see that with some more talent around both men, things could get righted quickly.
Moving and Shaking
Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery, Tim Jernigan, Jay Ajayi, LaGarrette Blount, Ronald Darby, Derek Barnett, Corey Clement, Chris Long, Patrick Robinson, were all new faces in 2017. Each and every one contributed in a major way. Roseman and crew had the greatest offseason any Eagles front office has ever had. And it was on full display throughout this magical season and stunning Super Bowl win. It was also the moves they didn't make. Mychal Kendricks, disgruntled and unproductive, stayed in midnight green instead of being dealt and had a monster, rebound season. Nelson Agholor appeared lost last year. A little tender love and faith saw him bounce-back in a huge way. Emotional intelligence anyone?
In a little more than two calendar years, this organization went from dysfunctional under Kelly to Super Bowl champions. And there are not enough fingers and toes in the Delaware Valley to point out the deserving parties for the transformation. From Pederson's bold coaching, to Wentz's magnificent 13-plus games, to the defense, to Foles' incredible playoff run, to as fine of a coaching staff in the NFL, to the unique camaraderie and selflessness in the locker room. This truly was a team effort. But it all starts at the top. The CEO, the man who put all of these moves in place. The owner, Jeff Lurie.