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Ford: Count on Roseman to have Eagles' hammer

In the last year, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has presided over an organizational chart of chutes and ladders where power rose and fell and rose again so precipitously that even the beefy employees on the first floor felt the vibrations from above.

Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.Read moreClem Murray / Staff Photographer

In the last year, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has presided over an organizational chart of chutes and ladders where power rose and fell and rose again so precipitously that even the beefy employees on the first floor felt the vibrations from above.

Like a man walking an Escher staircase, general manager Howie Roseman exerted his muscle, had it taken away, went into exile, and then climbed back to the top of the steps so rapidly he must have been taking them two at a time.

It really was a remarkable year and, except for the part where the whole organization essentially blew up, it was fascinating to watch the show unfold. The coming year figures to be a whole lot quieter and probably less fascinating from the outside. For the occupants of One NovaCare Way, though, a little stability is a welcome change after they lived through the Chip Kelly thrill ride.

Now that Lurie has hired Doug Pederson, a guy who will definitely say hello in the hallways, to replace Kelly, who did not, there is only one untidy end that remains to be tied. Lurie said the team intends to hire a player personnel executive, but would not disclose whether the new guy will be placed above or below Roseman on the redrawn organizational chart.

"[We] can't reveal any decision on that because it would impact our ability to find the right people that we have designated in the search," Lurie said.

When Kelly was fired in December, Lurie was asked a similar question about roster control and said that Roseman "will be responsible for making sure our player personnel department is as good as it gets in the NFL and be accountable for that, and that's pretty much the way it would go."

Unless he's had a change of heart, that's still the way it will go, and Roseman is going to be the boss. Regardless of what Lurie says in a news conference, that is also the way NFL people perceive the job opening. Among the player personnel executives around the league looking to climb someone's ladder, is it more attractive to work under Roseman, whose reputation as a boss is spotty, or to work over him, having just observed his role in sending a pretty powerful man down a slippery chute?

That's a reasonable question, and one prospective candidates will ask themselves. The reality is that the job will almost certainly be slotted below Roseman's rank, but saying so out loud would make it less likely that anyone with established credentials would take it. So, the company line is that decisions will be made in an atmosphere of "collaboration," as if the front office will be a self-governing collective deciding what strain of organic bulgur to plant.

A nice ideal, perhaps, but someone will have the hammer in his desk drawer, and you should bet on that someone being Roseman. After a year in the wilderness, Roseman says he had time to review the past, including the occasions he clashed with coworkers, some of whom slammed the door as they left.

"I didn't just put my head in the sand and say, 'Everyone's wrong.' I felt I had to look into myself and figure out a way to make people know that I cared about them, make time for relationships," Roseman said last week. "Sometimes, when you're in a busy job, you kind of overlook some of those things."

Roseman, of course, is an easy target, and Lurie didn't do him any favors last year when the owner explained the general manager had been moved aside because Kelly wanted to work with a "football guy." In the clubby world of the NFL, that's very nearly a slur. But just because Roseman didn't play the game doesn't mean he can't organize a scouting department or evaluate talent or run a draft. In fact, his history is that he does all those things pretty efficiently. Unlike Kelly, he is also a student of how the league works. If Evan Mathis is trying to get leverage, that's just business. Deal with it.

Where Roseman has failed, and failed badly at times, is interpersonally. Lurie isn't blind to that - or he never would have allowed Kelly to win his game of chicken - but he chose to let Roseman hang around and work on the problem. Kelly, who had a few interpersonal issues of his own, wasn't given the same second chance to play nice within the organization. All it took was one three-game losing streak in November (admittedly, a pretty massive one) and Lurie was thumbing through the coaching Rolodex, doing "research" on the field of possible replacements. The dichotomy is interesting, and speaks to Roseman's political skill and Kelly's lack of it.

Nevertheless, the new boss is the old boss once again, a predictable head coach is in place, and the organizational chart has stopped its wild undulations. After three years of change that swamped the organization, the tide has receded to reveal that everything is right where it was before the flood.

Whether that is comforting or disappointing is a matter of perspective. The stairs go up. The stairs go down. But which way do they really go?