This offseason has been their magnum opus.
General manager Howie Roseman gaslighted the Carson Wentz trade. Owner Jeffrey Lurie defended Roseman’s lousy draft record by blaming other teams, wouldn’t take responsibility for firing head coach Doug Pederson, and said he’s as hands-off as ever. New coach Nick Sirianni said he loves JJ Arcega-Whiteside and he’d never even heard of Carson Wentz (sort of).
The draft is nearly upon us, just 10 days away. Soon, they’ll speak again. Can they possibly top what they’ve already said?
Win, win? Liar, liar.
In January, Roseman said players like Wentz are “immensely talented,” that they “are like fingers on your hand. You cannot imagine that they are not part of you.”
In January, Lurie said he considered Wentz “very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential.”
They made Wentz sound irreplaceable. In fairness, he is. It was their misfortune that he also completely lacked integrity and forced a trade. It was, arguably, the worst trade in the history of Philadelphia sports. They traded five picks to move up six spots in 2016 to draft Wentz No. 2 overall; they invested about $80 million in Wentz, including almost $40 million in 2020 alone; and they incurred a salary cap hit of nearly $34 million in 2021 for him to not play in Philadelphia. This, in a season when the cap will decrease by 8%.
The Colts’ cost: a third-round pick in this month’s draft and a conditional second-round pick in 2022.
Yet Roseman described the transaction thus:
“It’s a win-win trade. For them, with the player they’re getting; and for us, the opportunity to not only get the picks but really to reset us going forward from a cap perspective.”
The player Colts are getting is worth far more than the picks he returned. If Wentz is even an average young starter in 2021, like Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray — they ranked dead in the middle of the pack — he’s worth two first-round picks, minimum.
To be fair, half of Roseman’s statement is half-true. Wentz will be totally off their books in 2022, when the salary cap is expected to increase by almost 9%, and that reality has value. But there’s no way the trade was, as Roseman said, “in the best interest of both parties.”
Find someone who loves you like Jeffrey loves Howie.
Lurie in January blamed the Eagles’ lack of young talent on the team’s misfortune of having top talent drafted just before the Eagles’ turn came.
“If we are identifying the best players, but they get taken two, three, four, five picks ahead of us, that’s also part of the evaluation. … I always have to make the tough decision of: Are we getting it right? Where are we getting it wrong? … Once we didn’t get the three players that we really wanted right there, they just got taken, what’s caused that next selection that may not have been maximized?”
“Is that two years of not having good first-round picks, is that related to people in the building or is that because the two players that they actually were going to draft got taken just before [we picked], and they are All-Pro players in the league?”
Let’s simplify this.
The Eagles don’t have good players because Roseman hasn’t identified good players. For instance, Roseman drafted defensive end Derek Barnett 14th overall in 2017, and he’s become a part-time player. Meanwhile, cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Tre’Davious White and edge rusher T.J. Watt — all of whom played positions of need for the Eagles — went 16th, 27th, and 30th, respectively. They also were picked for the last two Pro Bowls (Watt’s been picked three times).
Somehow, Lurie still doesn’t think Roseman is getting it wrong.
“I have real confidence that our football operations, led by Howie, cannot only repeat the performance of 2016 until now, and once again, create a dominant football team that can really maximize every aspect of its potential.”
Lurie fired head coach Doug Pederson on Jan. 11 because, according to team sources, Carson Wentz let everyone know that he wouldn’t work with Pederson any more after Pederson benched him in Game 12. Also, Pederson finally insisted on hiring his own assistants — a power he’d ceded to Lurie and Roseman in his first five seasons.
Lurie and Roseman couldn’t live without Wentz, but they could live without Pederson — especially a version of Pederson who would not bend to their will. However, they feared public backlash for firing the only Eagles coach to win a Super Bowl, just three years removed from the feat. Lurie lacked the backbone to take responsibility for his decision.
“Did Doug deserve to be let go? No, he did not deserve to be let go,” he said. “That’s not where I’m coming from, and that’s not the bar.”
Lurie then trapped himself. He said Pederson was unable to oversee a rebuild:
“I think, in his natural coaching instinct, it’s to literally do everything possible to maximize 2021 so that we are not in this position of questioning his job going forward.”
In other words, the boss didn’t believe the employee could do the job the boss wanted done, so he fired him. That’s the boss’s right. Just own it.
Further, if Lurie didn’t want anyone to “question” Pederson’s job going forward, Lurie could have extended Pederson’s contract past 2022.
No, this was about the owner and coach clashing. It’s the owner’s right — in fact, his duty — to fire a coach the owner believes cannot do the job.
And it’s the owner’s duty to not shovel manure when talking about it.
Stone in Love
New coach Nick Sirianni said this in March about recent receivers the Eagles drafted: 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside, 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor, 2020 fifth-round pick John Hightower, and 2020 sixth-round pick Quez Watkins:
“These are the guys I fell in love with a couple years ago in the draft, or last year in the draft.”
JJAW, Reagor, Hightower, and Watkins have combined for 62 catches, 923 yards, and three touchdowns. DK Metcalf was drafted seven picks after JJAW, but his production as a rookie alone — 58 catches, 900 yards, seven TDs — essentially matched that foursome’s career totals, and Metcalf dwarfed those numbers in 2021: 83 catches, 1,303 yards, 10 TDs. Justin Jefferson was drafted one spot behind Reagor, and he set a rookie record with 1,400 yards to go with his 88 catches and seven touchdowns.
If Nick Sirianni fell in love with JJAW, Reagor, Hightower, and Watkins, then on draft night Nick Sirianni should be locked out of the war room.
Sirianni said this in his introductory news conference:
“We don’t know any of these guys really yet from what we’ve seen on tape so far, because we haven’t watched any.”
Understand that, at the moment, the team’s most pressing concern was this: Can we fix Carson Wentz? His unprecedented regression in his fifth season was the greatest factor in the team’s 4-11-1 record and Pederson’s dismissal.
The second-most pressing concern: How good could the group of young receivers be?
Yet Sirianni claimed that Lurie gave him the job without him having to answer either of these questions. It was a lie. And it was embarrassing to witness.
Lurie admitted in 2017 that he lobbied for the return of quarterback Nick Foles; his relationship with aged left tackle Jason Peters added two seasons to Peters’ diminished career; and, according to team sources, it was Lurie who forced Pederson to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh after the 2019 season. Lurie has been an involved owner since he bought the team in 1994, which is his privilege, but he’s become more involved every year — which, again, is his privilege.
Asked directly if this was so, Lurie replied:
“I would say my involvement has been the same for about 25 years.”
That sound you heard was Andy Reid choking on his cheeseburger.