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Offseason Plan: The Long Haul Ahead

Posted Jan 4, 2017

As Howie Roseman explained to the assembled media at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, there are no promises. There are no guarantees. The Eagles made steps in the right direction in 2016, but 7-9 is not the goal and, frankly, neither is 10-6. The Eagles want to build a successful, sustainable football program once again, and it's going to be done the right way and it's going to take some time ...

As Howie Roseman explained to the assembled media at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, there are no promises. There are no guarantees. The Eagles made steps in the right direction in 2016, but 7-9 is not the goal and, frankly, neither is 10-6.

The Eagles want to build a successful, sustainable football program once again, and it's going to be done the right way and it's going to take some time.

Roseman didn't reveal any secrets on Wednesday. The Eagles are only a few days into the offseason and they are still processing the results, doing the self-scouting, evaluating the X's and O's, finishing up the reports on every player on the roster. In a very short period of time the emphasis will shift to the college all-star season and March's free agency period. 

Now? Roseman offered the wrap-up of the 2016 campaign, one that has the Eagles in a distinctly different, and better, position than they were a full 12 months ago. Back then, the Eagles were coming off the messy departure from head coach Chip Kelly and they were in search of a foundation to the organization's football side. They didn't know who their quarterback would be, what with incumbent starter Sam Bradford scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. 

One year ago, the Eagles just didn't have a clear direction.

That has all changed in the course of 12 months. Doug Pederson was hired as the head coach and he has established himself as the leader here with his relentlessly upbeat personality and message. Through a winding, sometimes-crazy maze, the Eagles moved up in the draft order and selected Carson Wentz No. 2 overall in April. Eight days before the opening game against Cleveland, Roseman dealt Bradford to Minnesota for a first-round draft pick this year (either 14 or 15, depending on a coin flip that will be conducted during the NFL's Scouting Combine), and Wentz, who had played all of one half of one preseason game before missing a month of Training Camp and the preseason, became the starter.

The season wasn't satisfactory, as Roseman emphasized several times on Wednesday. But emerging with a franchise quarterback in Wentz, who started every game and who played in all but six snaps, was the biggest step the Eagles could have taken in the first year of the Great Build.

"Carson missed the final three preseason games (and) missed a month of Training Camp. He was notified he was the starting quarterback eight days before the start of the season," Roseman said. "(With) his competitive fire, his intangible skill set, his physical skill set, we couldn't be more excited about the things that he brings to the table and see what he's going to do with a full offseason and opportunity to grow here in year two.

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"As for Doug, you talk about facing adversity. (A new) head coach comes in and our right tackle (Lane Johnson) is suspended for 10 games; our starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) is traded eight days before the start of the regular season. And the way the players responded, certainly towards the end of the season, you could see how the players felt about him. I’m just looking forward to him getting better and continuing to go grow like all of us in our jobs.

"It’s never satisfactory when we are sitting here having a press conference in January. But the reality is that when we made this decision to trade up for the quarterback, we’re going to build around him. When we re-signed Fletch (Fletcher Cox), we knew we had a 25-year-old we were going to build around. And we are going to stick to our plan. We are going to be disciplined with our process, and we are going to do the right things for this football team."

Being disciplined means not reaching for talent, not filling holes with Band-Aids. It means not reaching for positions. It means staying true to the evaluation conducted by men like vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas.

"He runs player personnel department and he reports to me and so we meet every day, a lot of times a day," Roseman said. "He's able to funnel down the information and the thought process that he has with his scouting staff. And our job and really my job, is to help make the decisions."

TThere are going to be some difficult decisions to make in the months to come. The Eagles have some flexibility within the salary cap, but not a ridiculous amount, as some teams do. Roseman started cleaning up some of the mess created in the previous years when he traded cornerback Byron Maxwell and running back DeMarco Murray last spring - deals that cleaned up the messy cap and also allowed the Eagles to move up to pick Wentz - and then cleared a few more dollars with the Bradford trade. There is more to be done.

The Eagles can't fall in love with players. They need to do what is best for the franchise, for putting the Eagles right back in the mix at the top of the suddenly rugged NFC East.

And that's on Roseman and his personnel department and it's on the coaching staff to develop the players on the roster.

"I want to be clear: This is not about me. This is about doing the right things for the Philadelphia Eagles," Roseman said. "We have to be disciplined, we have to stick to our plan and we have to stick to our process. That has to show up in the draft. I'm sure that everyone can sit here and write about positions of need; (we) understand that.

"But we are going to do what's right when you have some young, core players."

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