Lurie: Front office shakeup gave Chip Kelly 'football guy that he was comfortable with'
PHOENIX - Almost three months after Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie empowered Chip Kelly with final say over football decisions and stripped Howie Roseman of personnel responsibilities, he explained that the change was made because of Kelly's vision of how the team should be built.
Lurie suggested Tuesday that the decision was less about Roseman's evaluation skills than it was about maximizing Kelly's. It became clear after Lurie's 40-minute interview that the arranged marriage of Kelly and Roseman would not work because the coach wanted to pick his own personnel executive.
"I think it was much more Chip's requirement to sort of have a football guy that he was comfortable with in terms of helping him day to day and minute by minute," Lurie said at the NFL meeting, his first public comments since the front-office shake-up in January.
That "football guy" was not Roseman, signaling an about-face from Lurie's previous endorsements of the Eagles' former general manager. The Eagles promoted Ed Marynowitz, whom Lurie labeled a "bright young star," to vice president of player personnel.
Marynowitz's role was previously held by Tom Gamble, who was fired on Dec. 31. Lurie said Gamble's ouster was "totally unrelated" to the front-office changes and was a "longtime coming." Kelly's new responsibilities were not awarded to keep him from leaving, Lurie said, and there were no additional safeguards or assurances to ensure that the coach stays in Philadelphia.
Although Kelly won 20 games in his first two seasons, Lurie said his coach "adapted to what we had" during that period. Kelly did it without a team that was fully built in his vision, which differed from that of Andy Reid. Roseman ascended through the Eagles' ranks learning how to pick players for Reid.
"When we hired Chip, his style of play is very different than what we had before," Lurie said. "It's a power spread-offense and it's a 3-4 defense and we were not organized and designed in that way. We had outstanding young finesse and fast players, really good at that.
"We had to over two years understand where we're at: Where are we going to maximize Chip Kelly's vision and system - or were we going to counteract it?"
Lurie said what makes the Eagles' structure different is that it's "so tied to a particular series of requirements and modes of play." The new structure allows a process to best find the players Kelly seeks.
"It's much more in the training of the scouting staff by the coaches in terms of what exactly is needed," Lurie said. "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. There's notebooks you could read. . . . In order to really maximize Chip, I think this was the best way to go."
The decision came in the first week of the offseason. Lurie said that Roseman would return as general manager minutes after the season finale, but he said Tuesday he changed his mind after meeting with "senior people" in the organization.
He said it was "all my call" after experiencing division championships and playoff appearances but no Super Bowl victory. Lurie's favorite phrase was "good to great," which he uttered seven times during 40 minutes. Lurie's believes that the Eagles are stuck in "good", and that Kelly's vision could get them to "great."
"It's a gamble to go from good to great because you can go from good to mediocre with changes," Lurie said. "But I decided that it was important enough to adopt the vision and philosophy of integrating the scouting with the coaching on a daily basis."
By making this change, Lurie stripped Roseman of the responsibilities that allowed him to live his dream job. Lurie said that Roseman accepted the change because "he's so selfless" - Roseman also received a contract extension and a raise - and the owner lauded his abilities.
But when he was asked if Roseman was not good enough at finding players for Kelly, Lurie conceded that Kelly wanted to choose someone else for the personnel role. That's what ultimately led to changes that left Kelly in charge.
"I think with Chip he wanted his own player personnel guy next to him at all times," Lurie said. "And I don't blame him. . . . So we're providing that."