When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles, don't be fooled by the coaching search or the guise of the collaborative effort. The most important job for this team is to hire a general manager and rid itself of team vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
Coming out of the shadows of the (head coach) Chip Kelly release after a 6-9 record heading into Week 17, it seemed that the Eagles organization and owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted to start fresh.
But the coaching search is turning into smoke and mirrors. A decoy. The hunt for a head coach isn't the issue for the Eagles. It's the front office. And until that structure changes, expect a potential carousel of coaching scapegoats.
How we got here is confusing, but follow me.
To fans, the new start from Lurie meant ridding the front office of a coach with last say on player personnel and also Roseman, a recently stripped GM who was promoted to executive vice president of football operations. Roseman was in charge of negotiating contracts, among other responsibilities, but was still tied to the first and second years of the Kelly regime (after being tied to the failed Andy Reid regime as well).
Over the past year, the front office structure had Kelly involved with GM responsibilities, thus splitting the work between two people—specifically, two people who didn't appear to like each other.
Kelly's power move to gain control over player personnel eventually landed Roseman—whose office was next to Kelly's at the Eagles' NovaCare Complex—a new dwelling on the opposite end of the building, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane.
Since then Kelly has been ousted and Lurie plans to keep the GM title vacant, opting for a collaborative effort among many, including Roseman.
To be fair, collaborative efforts have worked for NFL teams. Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is also the team's GM, and he gets input from head coach Marvin Lewis and director of player personnel Duke Tobin.
But there are a couple of significant differences between the Bengals and the Eagles.
For one, the Bengals have put together arguably the best roster top to bottom in the NFL. In Philadelphia, Roseman was responsible for successful draft picks such as Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Lane Johnson and Vinny Curry (who hasn't had enough playing time), but he also drafted whiffs like Jaiquawn Jarret, Danny Watkins (who was chosen as a 26-year-old rookie) and Marcus Smith.
That doesn't take into account Roseman's effort to build through free agency in 2011 with the "Dream Team." A sad reality is that in the NFL, that just doesn't work. (See 2015 Eagles.)
So already the inconsistency in his drafts and signings should be a red flag. A huge red flag. How many other front office executives continue to get chances after making those kinds of moves?
The second thing is a revelation that has me most nervous about the direction of the team. Roseman is apparently not well respected within the league. (The third unofficial difference is that he helped hire Kelly. In some weird quasi-Oedipus way, Roseman was responsible for his own downfall.)
As Eytan Shander of 97.5 The Fanatic simply said in a tweet: "Howie Roseman is toxic."
During the Eagles' 2013 coaching search, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com said:
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me one esteemed coach or another advised one of the Eagles' top candidates not to take the job precisely because of Roseman's presence there. ... The rumblings about Roseman lacking nuance and foresight, about him turning people off with how drunk with power he's become, only grow louder as his coaching search grows stranger.
That's alarming. An executive lacking foresight is the opposite of what that job needs. This is a front office position that needs someone who can build a team that can sustain years of success.
You need foresight.
And Roseman is directly under the owner. There aren't many positions higher in the organization than where he sits!
If the Eagles want to limit coaching candidates so Roseman can remain the top dog without any threat, then it's a possible detriment to the franchise.
As tweeted by Philly Influencer's Anthony DiBona: "The Eagles are dead set on keeping Howie Roseman around. Thus the next HC will HAVE to get along with him or it'll be Chip Kelly part two."
ESPN.com's Phil Sheridan reported that the Browns may be offering a role in personnel decisions to Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator and coaching candidate Hue Jackson, and the Eagles have not even shown interest in hiring him.
Is it connecting dots or tossing a line and hoping to get a bite? I'm leaning toward the former.
For further proof, look at newly hired Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase. At first, it seemed the Eagles were interested, according to McClane: "#Eagles interviewed Adam Gase approx. 8 hrs. Like Howie Roseman, doesn't come from traditional football background. Didn't play in college."
But when news surfaced that the Dolphins will allow Gase "more organizational power," as the Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson reported, it seemed clear why the Eagles passed on him.
So if Philadelphia doesn't want another Chip Kelly-type, it'll need a coach who isn't interested in player personnel duties. That could mean that Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin are prime candidates.
"I think Tom Coughlin is the guy because he doesn't want to get involved in [personnel]," SportsRadio 94WIP's Howard Eskin told WIP morning man Angelo Cataldi (h/t CBS Philly's Andrew Porter). "He just wants to coach, and that's where it fits to what [the Eagles are] looking for."
As an Eagles fan, I'm for Coughlin. I believe the GM-coach hierarchy is valuable in professional sports, and if he wants to merely coach, then it opens the door for a GM—without any headaches.
But the dynamic of a possible fallout with Roseman is all too real. Can you see Coughlin tolerating Roseman's seemingly increasing ego?
Maybe Roseman is drunk with power, as La Canfora relayed in 2013, and wants someone who will fall in line and allow him to retain control.
In Roseman's defense, Lurie created this new version. The owner ripped everything from Roseman and then gave it back as if nothing had happened. You'd be a little paranoid, too, right? It would only make sense if Roseman wanted to protect his position.
But that's why the Eagles need to clean house. Roseman is fractured and the Eagles appear to be going to extremes to ensure that a Chip Kelly situation never happens again. It's dangerous if it doesn't work, and it could set the franchise back years.
The Eagles can claim they're looking for a new start in a coach, but as long as Roseman is in charge, nothing will change.
So I guess the question becomes: