PHOENIX - So, now we know. Chip Kelly didn't burst into Jeff Lurie's office in late December and give the Eagles owner a me-or-Howie ultimatum.
What he did do, though, was share with Lurie his vision of the best way to take the Eagles from a pretty good 10-win team to a great Super Bowl champion. And surprise, surprise, Howie Roseman was nowhere to be found in that vision.
"Chip had a vision of how to get from good to great," Lurie told reporters yesterday in his first comments since stripping Roseman of his general manager title on Jan. 2 and giving Kelly complete control over personnel decisions.
"Having a seamless scouting and coaching enterprise was really what Chip's vision was. He felt he could be maximized best with a senior personnel executive that was of his choosing. I thought it was important to back him on that."
To make a long story short, besides the fact that Kelly wanted to run his own show, he also thought the same thing a lot of you out there think: Howie's just not a football guy.
It's a stigma Roseman has been battling for nearly 15 years, ever since he took an entry-level job with the Eagles after graduating from Fordham Law School.
All he ever wanted to do was become an NFL general manager. Didn't play college ball, didn't even play high school ball, which makes him no different than a lot of NFL personnel executives.
But he worked his butt off over the years to learn how to evaluate football flesh. Actually became pretty good at it, if the Eagles' 2012-13 drafts are any indication.
But Roseman's debate-club looks and the absence of a football-playing resumé constantly seemed to hurt his credibility. Yeah, he got five keepers in the '12 draft (Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Nick Foles and Brandon Boykin). But he never played ball at Marlboro (N.J.) High.
Yeah, he hit the trifecta in '13 with the selections of Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan. But he looks like somebody's paper boy, not an NFL GM.
Fellow NFL personnel people were slow to warm to Roseman as he rose through the ranks, and he made the mistake of letting it bother him and shape his personality.
The irony of this whole thing is that Roseman was instrumental in the Eagles' courting and hiring of Kelly. Now, Kelly has been instrumental in him losing the only job he ever wanted.
Et tu, Chipper?
"Howie has been great," said Lurie, who curiously gave Roseman a raise and a contract extension to go with his January demotion. "He's been with us for 15-16 years and grown with the organization and is as selfless as you can be. He just wants to win. And that's all Chip wants to do. That's all any of us want to do.
"You can talk all you want about structure and final say. What any organization worth their salt wants to do is try to get the players that the coaches need and try to make sound decisions, manage the salary cap so you're not sacrificing the future for present decisions. Be smart about it and focus primarily on the draft, except in situations where you can take advantage of the free-agent market."
It started to become pretty clear by some of his comments late in the season that Kelly didn't have a lot of respect for Roseman's personnel ability. That was even more evident last week when the Eagles coach couldn't wait to heap all of the blame for Marcus Smith and the 2014 draft on Roseman.
"I haven't had final say [in the draft] in the last 2 years," Kelly was only too happy to point out, even though you'd have to be an idiot to think Roseman would've drafted somebody his head coach didn't want. In other words, while Kelly might not have had final say, he most certainly green-lighted every single pick the Eagles made in the last two drafts since his hiring.
Asked yesterday why the Eagles couldn't have had that "seamless scouting and coaching enterprise" with Roseman, Lurie went to the old it's-not-you-it's-me breakup excuse.
"It wasn't Howie. It was much more Chip's requirement to have sort of a football guy that he was comfortable with in terms of helping him day to day, minute by minute. We all recognize the value in an organization today, you'd better have somebody that can really manage the cap well, negotiate well, execute the plan well, and at the same time, evaluate [players] well and be tied at the hip with the coach in terms of evaluation."
Kelly clearly didn't want to run a three-legged race with Roseman.
The risk here is that while Kelly may be the smartest guy this side of Einstein, he has just 2 years of NFL experience. Maybe he can evaluate talent and maybe he can't. We're about to find out.
And the guy who has replaced Roseman as Kelly's chief personnel adviser, 31-year-old Ed Marynowitz, isn't exactly a grizzled NFL scouting veteran either. I have stone-washed jeans older than Ed.
On the plus side, he's a "football guy" who played quarterback at La Salle and Central Florida. So Eagles fans never will question his credentials.
Lurie insisted he had no reluctance giving so much power to a coach with so little NFL experience.
"You think it through very much," he said. "He's bright. He's hard-working. He's obsessed with football. This man is all about winning. It doesn't matter to him the public perception of a trade or the intention of where he's coming from or trying to read in between the lines. He's all about football and making us better. And that's what you want in a coach as an owner.
"I support Chip Kelly. I support what he's all about. And I want to give him the best chance to succeed."
Kelly's offense and defense are night-and-day different from what the Eagles ran under Andy Reid. They require different types of players.
Roseman understood that. Tried to get Kelly the kind of players that would fit his offensive and defensive schemes.
"What Howie did, which was good, he had coach Kelly give us an idea of what he was looking for at each position," Eagles senior scouting supervisor Tom Donahoe told me last year. "So, before we got into our draft conversation, we had an idea of what coach wanted. As we went through the draft process, we learned the kind of guys Chip liked and the kind of guys he wasn't crazy about. The process will get better as the scouts get more experience with the coaches."
If it's going to get better, it will be with Kelly making the decisions and Marynowitz trying to keep things seamless, not Roseman.
Asked if that seamlessness was missing in last year's draft, Lurie said, "No. It's much more in the training of the scouting staff by the coaches in terms of exactly what is needed. It's so defined in Chip's system. I've never seen anything like it. It's incredibly detailed, both psychologically, athletically. In so many categories, in order to really maximize Chip, I think this was the best way to go."