Wing Tips: Loose Commitment To Hurts?
For the first time in weeks, the Eagles put two of their main pillars in front of the media for a videoconference. Howie Roseman, executive vice president of football operations, and new head coach Nick Sirianni answered a wide range of questions for about 45 minutes. As usual, not everyone on the conference was called on to ask a question. Also as usual, nothing said by Roseman or Sirianni would move mountains or gave deep insight into the team's thinking about the Carson Wentz divorce, the current quarterback situation, or the overall direction of the franchise. Here's a notebook-style breakdown of the relevant topics that were discussed:
Despite a recent ESPN report that Jeffrey Lurie ordained Jalen Hurts as the starter to build around, both Sirianni and Roseman seemed non-committal on the subject. Roseman repeated his long-held stance that he's always looking to assemble the strongest quarterback room possible and discussed an unfair reputation that Hurts is more of a runner than passer. Sirianni sort of rambled – more on that later – about having three different quarterbacks in his last three years as Colts offensive coordinator. "Those teams had similarities in their offense but minor differences, just because every quarterback did something different," Sirianni said. "And that’s not different here. We feel that good offensive football is catering to your players." Sirianni's point is that he can cater his offensive scheme to whomever is pulling the trigger, which kind of sent the signal that maybe the Eagles are exploring every corner of talent acquistion before officially putting all chips down on Hurts. It's a good point about adjusting scheme to personnel, but it's also not Earth-shattering wisdom. Most offensive-minded coaches echo this sentiment. Sirianni later added that, "right now, we have one quarterback on the team" and talked about Hurts' stints at Alabama and Oklahoma and his four-game cameo as an Eagles starter. He also said he's evaluated the rookie quarterback class and noted "there are a lot of good quarterback prospects out there." So, again, not much said specifically about Hurts, which I perceive to be intentional. But also remember that offseason rules prohibit real football conversations between coaches and players at this time of the offseason.
Not much substance from Roseman on the Wentz trade. He said Wentz expressed a desire to move on after the season. He told Wentz's reps that any trade needed to be "win-win" for each side.
Credit to Les Bowen of Philly.com for asking Roseman about what exactly led Wentz to completely want out, but Roseman said conversations between he and Wentz's agent, Ryan Tollner, would be kept private. So you aren't getting the behind-the-curtain information that shines the light on the split between factions or the smoking gun.
At his own press conference with the Colts, Wentz said he knew he wanted out when being benched against the Green Bay Packers. You can watch Wentz's press conference here.
Roseman perhaps hinted at the root of some disconnect between Wentz and the franchise when he talked about involving the next quarterback more in roster discussions.
"I know there's been a lot of conversation here and elsewhere about the relationship with quarterbacks and what you do with them," he said. "For us, it's always about being quarterback-driven. If we have a quarterback, we are going to talk to them, we are going to get their perspective on things. It's as much their team as anyone's.
"We've looked at that and kind of thought about that. That's just who we are. We are a collaborative group, we do talk to people and the players on our team, people in our building and get their perspective. At the end of the day, I'm not telling you that's who makes the decision. That's the responsibility of myself and Coach at the end of the day, but getting those perspectives helps us make a decision and gives us the ability to have more information."
Also not surprisingly, Roseman downplayed questions about a "toxic" atmosphere at the NovaCare, or team dysfunction.
"We've had a team that has dealt with a lot of adversity, and a building that's dealt with a lot of adversity," he said. "We've always rebounded."
Roseman mentioned the team's "track record" of bouncing back after nightmarish seasons.
"I think that's only because you have a good building," he added. "That's a lot of people, obviously. We have a lot of good people in this building, people that care about this team and people who bring positive energy.
We've had limited interactions with Sirianni since his hiring, with just two videoconferences and some separate interviews on the team website. Trying to predict success based on press conference demeanor is dangerous, but it's safe to say Sirianni is the team's most rah-rah head coach in decades, a stark conference to the mundanity of Andy Reid and Doug Pederson. Chip Kelly wasn't necessarily mundane, but his public face tended to be snarky, sarcastic and sometimes dismissive. Sirianni comes off uppity, eager and with the exuberance of a teenage boy preparing for his first date. He tends to ramble when making simple points and sort of over-explains stuff that's not as complicated as to grasp as he might think it is for the public. In the end, what matters most is how his genuine enthusiasm and his wordy stories are received in the locker room – more so after a tough loss than a victory, and in times of adversity. Say what you want about Pederson, but his players always gravitated toward the coach's unwavering, yet unimposing, optimism.
Regarding Zach Ertz, Roseman made it clear he's not giving away the Pro Bowl tight end for free. “For us to trade any player, it’s gotta make sense for both sides," Roseman said. Translation: Stop giving me lousy offers. With the Chargers signing Jared Cook on Thursday to a one-year deal, the Bills become the most logical landing spot for Ertz. A fourth-round pick probably gets the deal done. In other news, the Eagles announced the signing of their first free agent, former Buccaneers safety Andrew Adams, and the re-signing of defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway. Adams (5-11, 200) mostly appeared on special teams in his three seasons with Tampa Bay, but has started 15 games in his career, which started with the Giants. Ridgeway is back for a third season as a rotational defensive tackle. He's played just seven games in each of his two years. He came over from the Colts, so he has some experience with new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. – Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the "Inside the Birds" podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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