Rock, Paper, Scissors Not Only Game Birds Are Running
Perception and reality, as we're constantly told, are often not synonymous, and never had that become more apparent than during Thursday's press conference that put several Eagles decision makers in front of the microphone to virtually discuss next week's draft. About 45 minutes into the event, fans were hand-delivered another reason to wonder about the direction of the franchise, as social media discovered that new head coach Nick Sirianni ran games of Rock, Paper, Scissors with draft prospects in virtual interviews.
Sirianni even joked about playing with reporters when everyone can finally collaborate in person. The Passion of The Sirianni also resulted in a microphone getting smacked by his perpetually frenetic hands, a collage of excitable facial expressions, and the new coach hijacking some questions intended for Howie Roseman and personnel chief Andy Weidl just to get in his extra $.02
Social media vultures predictably feasted off viral videos of Sirianni's impassioned breakdown of testing a prospect's competitive thirst to flourish in a violent sport from a game that most kids stop playing after third grade, devouring the first-year Eagles coach like a roadside carcass. And so the perception of this press conference was that Sirianni, once again, and the Eagles are the butt of jokes, both regionally and nationally. Has Jaylen Waddle tumbled down the Eagles' board for losing twice on Scissors? This is sad, because the reality is that nothing Sirianni said was even mildly alarming compared to what was not said in the 45-minute session. Let's start with Roseman not trying to deny – even a little – that he didn't take the best players on the team's board last year, then subtly driving the bus over the old coaching staff to explain those head-scratching decisions made on Day 1 and 2. ESPN.com's Tim McManus started off a question to Roseman with more of an accusation. "Howie it's pretty well documented at this point that the first two picks last year weren't true to the scouting board that you guys had ..." McManus said, before asking if the process has since been tweaked. Roseman, never one to usually permit public narratives about his process without debate, didn't attempt to correct or downplay the scenario McManus laid out. Roseman instead spun the question into an answer about trying to meet the needs of his coaches. "I think when you talk about how you arrive at a final grade, you're trying to get obviously what the guys who have been on the road and done all the work done, and also get ... the perspective of the fit and the vision from the coaching staff. "Because at the end of the day, when they're on the field, they're the coaches, and the vision has to fit what they're looking for at each position." Jeez, even the Eagles' defense last year wasn't this bad. Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz aren't around anymore, so why not toss another dagger in their vertebrae? The job of a general manager is to execute a collaborative brainstorm of scouts, coaches, analytics and others in creating a board that fits the team's best interest. Then stick to that board. If the general manager showed more preference to one faction on any given pick, that's still the general manager's responsibility. Roseman, however, played much better defense on behalf of the owner, who's influence in the draft is also well-documented. But this time there was nothing else to throw under the bus than the truth. Roseman insisted that Jeffrey Lurie does nothing more than ask questions, take notes and oversee the process. "Jeffery's involvement is the same it's always been," Roseman said. So to recap: Those who reported that Roseman didn't stick to his board last year did so accurately, but the same reporters dishing on Lurie's heavy influence on draft picks are not accurate? Must be a crazy coincidence, I suppose. Better question: Was anything said Thursday that guaranteed last year's faulty process wouldn't be repeated next week, when the Eagles have 11 picks to make over the three-day draft? "We learned a lot about the process last year," Roseman said, taking an opportunity to use the pandemic's interruption of business-as-usual collaboration as rationale for ignoring input from his personnel folks. Even he can't buying what he's trying to sell, which is probably why Roseman was all too thrilled to let Sirianni steal the show. Maybe fans should be a little more appreciate of Sirianni's willingness to be comfortable in his skin instead of ripping the new coach for displaying twice as much enthusiasm for football than the prior head coach did. Sirianni's go-getter demeanor might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he clearly showcased command and presence. As for his sidestepping of Jalen Hurts questions, it's common for first-time head coaches to promote competition. Sirianni emphasized that he and his staff have only "been working with these guys for two days." Some interpreted his comments to mean there's an open competition between Hurts and Joe Flacco for the starting job. Spoiler: there isn't. "My biggest thing is competition," Siriainni said, calling it his "second core value." (just behind Rock, Paper, Scissors etiquette, of course). It's understandable that Sirianni would look to masquerade the appearance of handing someone a starting job before seeing him on the field. The reality is Hurts is the starter barring a trade. When Roseman moved down from sixth overall to 12th, he essentially told everyone the Eagles were out of the Round 1 quarterback business. Despite Roseman's shaky promises of more collaboration and a brighter tomorrow, the public seemed more eager to mock Sirianni's honest, unique, and creative – if somewhat pedantic – approach to gleaning prospect information during this irregular, Covid-era pre-draft process. It's all about Sirianni's performance for the cameras instead of the mess still hovering over the franchise from the past 18 months. Almost as if Lurie's plan is working perfectly. – Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the "Inside the Birds" podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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