If the Eagles win Super Bowl 57, it will complete a story of redemption. Philadelphia won its first Super Bowl title five years ago, but the seasons since have been anything but smooth sailing.
The Eagles won just four games in 2020 before turning to one of the NFL’s youngest quarterbacks and a 39-year-old head coach. General manager Howie Roseman fell from grace after the Super Bowl win but has risen back to the top thanks to aggressive decisions.
It was less than two years that fans were chanting “Fire Howie” after the four-win season. As the franchise endured a disappointing offseason following the firing of well-liked coach Doug Pederson, Philadelphia fans wanted new leadership.
Roseman didn’t give in, and he has earned the fans’ respect all over again.
“E-A-G-L-E-S” chants at Phillies games? No.
“Fire Howie” chants at Phillies games? Yes. #RingTheBell | @drewmsmith pic.twitter.com/9BXGgGFRX0
— The Liberty Line (@LibertyLinePHL) April 20, 2021
Whether or not the Eagles win the Super Bowl, Roseman has shown NFL front offices how to successfully pull off a retool rather than a rebuild.
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Here’s how Roseman was able to turn the Eagles back into a championship contender:
Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia and is coming off a tremendous first season leading the Jaguars, yet you won’t find many Eagles fans rehashing the decision to fire him in 2020.
Much like Andy Reid’s exit in 2012, it may have just been the right time for a split. No one doubts Pederson’s coaching ability, but his relationship with the front office and his quarterback became strained.
Nick Sirianni was a low-profile hire for a high-profile franchise, but he has turned out to be the right man at the right time for the city of Philadelphia.
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Roseman, in theory, could have held onto Carson Wentz after firing Pederson, considering the relationship between the two was strained. Instead, he cut bait with the No. 2 pick just 20 months after signing him to a $128 million extension and committed to an inexperienced Jalen Hurts as the team’s starter. Roseman’s commitment to Hurts continues to pay off.
The Eagles already had one of the NFC’s most talented rosters heading into 2022, but Roseman didn’t settle for what he already had.
He executed a blockbuster trade with the Titans for WR A.J. Brown on draft night and later swooped in to acquire Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson at the end of training camp. Both trades, in hindsight, look like steals.
Roseman’s trade for Darius Slay in 2020 continues to make a difference, and last year’s draft pick swap with the Saints landed the Eagles a top-10 pick in addition to their own pick. Roseman showed not just how to build a winning roster, but how to sustain it.
Beyond trades, signings of Javon Hargrave, Haason Reddick, and James Bradberry have all paid dividends during the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl.
Roseman would probably be the first to tell you the Eagles couldn’t sustain a championship-level roster in 2018 and beyond because of poor draft decisions.
The Eagles came away with Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas on the first two days of the 2017 Draft. Douglas has emerged as a key piece of the Packers’ defense, while Jones didn’t make an impact in Philadelphia and Barnett’s time with the Eagles may soon be up after another injury.
The 2018 Draft was a bright spot for Roseman. Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat, Jordan Mailata, and Avonte Maddox have all emerged as starters, though Sweat and Mailata were projects who took some time to develop. In 2019, however, Roseman led off by selecting tackle Andre Dillard, who hasn’t stayed healthy or showed much promise when on the field.
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Drafting receivers J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor stands among Roseman’s worst decisions of his time in Philadelphia.
Arcega-Whiteside was drafted a few picks before D.K. Metcalf in 2019, while Reagor was infamously taken one pick ahead of Justin Jefferson in 2020. Neither made a positive impact with the Eagles, which necessitated the selection of DeVonta Smith in 2021 and the trade for Brown.
Fortunately for the Eagles, Roseman nailed both of those decisions. Brown flashed an instant connection with Hurts, and Smith looks like he could be a No. 1 receiver for many teams. Landon Dickerson and Kenneth Gainwell also look like hits in the 2021 Draft, and Eagles fans were excited to see their team draft Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean in 2022.
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Of course, no pick might have a larger impact than the selection of Jalen Hurts in the second round in 2020. It was a puzzling decision at the time, with Wentz coming off a solid, healthy season, but Hurts has developed from a Day 2 flier into a franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.
Building a championship-level roster starts on draft night, and Roseman will have another test this spring with two first-round picks at his disposal.