PHILADELPHIA >> The Eagles made a big commitment to the once laughable partnership of vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson.
Hours before their open practice at Lincoln Financial Field, which would rock and roll with the wave Sunday evening, the Eagles announced they’d signed the duo to contract extensions through 2022.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he wanted to solidify the leadership that helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl. The boss didn’t want to lose the chemistry between Roseman and Pederson, whose credentials were openly questioned only a few years ago.
“If you want to be best and not be average, you better set yourself apart from the 31 other teams,” Lurie said. “Every year your odds are about three percent to win it all. What’s going to give you the three percent chance and raise that to 100 percent and it happening? You better be different and innovative but smart to get a real sense of what it takes to set you apart.”
Pederson and Roseman set the Eagles apart in the mind of Lurie.
Pederson had two years remaining on his contract, including the option year exercised by the Eagles. Criticized by former football general manager Michael Lomdardi as the least qualified candidate to be a head coach in Philly since Sixers coach Roy Rubin in 1972-1973, Pederson has guided the Eagles to a 23-12 record in two seasons, including a 16-3 ledger last season despite a handful of injuries to key players.
When all was said and done, the Eagles prevailed in Super Bowl LII without the services of quarterback Carson Wentz, who threw a club-record 33 touchdown passes in 13 games, all-world offensive tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Darren Sproles, safety Chris Maragos and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
“Well deserved,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said of the Pederson extension. “Obviously he earned it. When you look at what he was able to do with that team in a short amount of time, and get us to the level where we are today, it’s remarkable. Any time you have an opportunity to keep a coach like that who’s special, that’s obvoiusly what you’ve got to do.”
Roseman added several free agent contributors to that Super Bowl mix, including Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, running back LeGarrette Blount, corner Patrick Robinson and defensive end Chris Long all were big contributors.
Though Wentz still isn’t all the way back from knee surgery, the Eagles extended the contract of Foles, upgraded the wide receiver position with Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, and welcomed back Peters and Sproles.
Lurie is excited to see if the Birds can repeat.
“Our goal every year is to win the Super Bowl,” Lurie said. “I can’t tell you how terrifically positioned I think we are. It’s a tough, tough league. But I don’t think I’ve ever been more fired up for a season than we’re about to undertake but with a realization we’re also in the NFC. I compare it to the NBA West. There are many, many teams entering this season that I think can be in the Super Bowl.”
In Lurie’s mind, Pederson and Roseman have the qualities and chemistry to give the Eagles the best chance to repeat moving forward. Both are tireless grinders.
“We have to try to collaborate and grind through all the things that are not sexy, just the daily grind,” Lurie said. “You’re going to lose players. You’re going to lose star players. And, can you survive all that? Can you continue to game plan better than any team in the sport? And can you basically come together as a team? Teams win.”
Pederson, 50, became just the eighth NFL head coach to win a Super Bowl in his first two seasons. And he did it with Foles, who’d made just three starts entering the playoffs. Foles registered a 100-plus passer rating in all three playoff victories. He set a franchise record with a 72.6 completion percentage in the playoffs.
Pederson defeated Bill Belichick and the Patriots, 41-33, in the Super Bowl with an attack that produced 538 yards.
Roseman was voted Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America and Sporting News. His biggest contribution was engineering the trades to move up to the second overall pick in the 2016 draft and select Wentz.
Roseman was moved to a wing of team headquarters away from the football operations people after losing a power struggle with then head coach Chip Kelly right after the 2014 season. Kelly was fired with one game left in the 2015 campaign, which concluded with a 7-9 record.
Roseman bounced back into the front office and was part of the crew to hire Pederson, the Eagles’ third choice, who wasn’t considered a big-time candidate. The Eagles reportedly were interested in hiring Adam Gase, now with the Miami Dolphins, and Ben McAdoo, fired by the New York Giants.
Roseman dealt underperformers Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell, and the 13th overall pick to the Dolphins for the eighth overall pick.
Roseman then shipped the eighth pick and four others to Cleveland for the second overall selection. The Eagles also surrendered third and four-round picks, a first-rounder in 2017 and a second-round choice in the most recent draft.
The Browns have gone 1-31 since giving up the right to draft Wentz.
“This is an opportunity to really solidify the great leadership we have as an organization,” Lurie said. “Howie and Doug are two very, very impressive leaders who collaborate and are a big part of the success of this franchise. They really have instilled the culture of collaboration, of team work. It’s all about the group and the team. they work well with everybody. They’re not afraid of hiring people who are very smart and terrific within their areas. They’re both aggressive. They’re both risk takers. It’s part of our culture. We never want to lose that.”
Lurie indicated that Roseman got better at his job by doing what he does best – making decisions. He said Roseman studied successful decision makers inside and outside of football to improve himself.
“You have to be incredibly collaborative to be very successful,” Lurie said. “The old days of the NFL and sports with the general manager watching film and scouting players is about as outdated as – I would say newspapers, but I don’t want to say that because I’m a big reader of newspapers. It’s just an outdated philosophy. Then he was put back in the position of being a decision maker.”
The unsung hero in the Eagles’ football operation is vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, who runs the draft. Lurie became vague when asked if Douglas would be extended. The Eagles blocked a team from interviewing Douglas after the Super Bowl season.
“Joe, you know, yes, Joe is an important member of our player personnel staff,” Lurie said. “And that’s - I won’t talk about anyone else’s contract today. But Joe is a valued member of our staff and contributes as do many, many people that never get written about.”