Lost in last weekend’s pre-Super Bowl hypefest was a story in the Baltimore Sun with a hidden Eagles subtext. In the story, which announced that GM Ozzie Newsome would hand the reins to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta after the 2018 season, was this paragraph:
“The Ravens have struggled in recent years with losing scouts such as Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight. All four currently work in the front office of the Philadelphia Eagles. . . They had 55 years of working experience combined in Baltimore.”
It’s worth noting that the Eagles won this year despite going against the NFL hiring grain in almost every way when it comes to how its front office was crafted. To wit:
- Owner Jeffrey Lurie pulled off the unusual move of demoting the de facto GM, Howie Roseman, while keeping him in the building. Equally surprising: Roseman accepted the exile, then returned stronger and better after a year of growth on the business side.
- When hiring GMs, the league tends to pick from the Packer, Seahawk or Patriot tree. Two of the last four GMs hired in the last two months (Cleveland’s John Dorsey and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst) were well-rooted in the Packers’ ways, while the three hired in 2016 (Miami’s Chris Grier, Detroit’s Bob Quinn and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson) came off the Patriots’ branches. But the Eagles have gone their own way. Except for Senior Personnel Executive Trey Brown, none of their senior executives are from those three organizations.
- You could argue that the Eagles put as much emphasis on the pro side of scouting as any team in the league. While most teams put most weight on the college side, the Eagles have six scouts with ‘pro’ in their title. While numbers aren’t available for other teams, that total is likely to be among the highest, if not the highest, in the league.
- Unlike teams that rely on continuity in their scouting staff, the Eagles have been aggressive about making changes until finding the right mix. Joe Douglas, the V.P. of Player Personnel, has been with the team less than two years. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl was hired the same day as Douglas. Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham, Player Personnel Executive J. McCreight and Director of Pro Scouting Dwayne Joseph all have two years or less in the Eagles’ front office.
Winning a Super Bowl often means boldly going in a direction that defies conventional thinking in a league full of copy cats. Credit Owner Jeffrey Lurie with having the courage to go with his gut and trust his instincts in assembling a winning front office.
For a different look at how the Eagles built their roster into a Lombardi Trophy-worthy outfit, take a look at Shawn Zobel’s analysis of the team. His piece leads off this week’s ITL Friday Wrap. It’s free, and it goes out to more than 4,000 people across the football business each week. It’s free, and you can register for it here.
Shawn is a scout with experience working in the NFL at the team level and for the league office. He owns TheSidelinePass.com and Zobel Sports Consulting; hosts the Football Headquarters Podcast with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities; and has won three state championships as an assistant at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.