HOWIE ROSEMAN assured reporters several times that his eyes were "wide-open" Tuesday when he traded for the untapped, perplexing talent of Dorial Green-Beckham.
Roseman's eyes must have been similarly agape last Thursday night, when the Eagles' wide receivers caught all of 52 yards' worth of passes in the preseason opener, no catch accounting for more than 10 yards. Green-Beckham, questionable focus and consistency aside, averaged 17.2 yards per catch in 2015 as a Tennessee Titans rookie, 32 catches for 549 yards.
"Certainly, when we look at that position, we were actively working phones and trying to figure out fits for our football team," said Roseman, putting his plight as delicately as possible. Alternate translation: "No one in our personnel department has slept a wink in five days. And that includes me."
With Jordan Matthews sidelined by a knee sprain, the Eagles' crisis at wideout was on full display, so Tuesday's trade was surprising only in that somehow the Titans got so fed up with the 40th player taken in the 2015 draft, they were willing to trade him for reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly. If Green-Beckham can summon enough focus and consistency to board a plane and disembark in Philadelphia, that's a win.
Is it a really big, game-changing win, though? Unless Titans general manager Jon Robinson is of the Chip Kelly school of personnel management - "I'm tired of dealing with this guy, get him out of here, who cares what we get?" - this is a Roseman Hail Mary. As he did in the draft last spring, Roseman is hoping qualities like maturity, intensity and dedication to craft can be taught. Quickly taught.
"Very, very talented guy," Roseman said of Green-Beckham, 6-5, 240, with a 4.49 40 time and hands like garden shovels. "He's got to make the most of this opportunity . . . It's up to him to prove his value to this football team."
Green-Beckham somehow managed to slide past the third string to a category marked "other," below the top six, on new Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey's depth chart. Reportedly he was urged to dedicate himself in the offseason, then showed up out of shape. Dive that far down the Eagles' wideout depth chart, you're probably going to emerge with fourth QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who fills in wherever needed.
"We've spent a lot of time here in the last few weeks behind the scenes doing some background work. He comes in with an opportunity; no promises have been made," Roseman said of Green-Beckham.
Roseman referenced his relationship with Titans general manager Jon Robinson, to whom he traded DeMarco Murray in March. Roseman noted that he and Robinson also discussed the Titans' first overall draft pick, before the Eagles ended up trading for the second pick, and quarterback Carson Wentz.
Roseman said Robinson was "very transparent" about the Titans' issues with Green-Beckham. Roseman said he has no reason to think there are currently off-field problems with the former Missouri star, who transferred to Oklahoma but never actually played there.
The Eagles like the teaching chops of wideouts coach Greg Lewis, and Roseman, in detailing the kind of support and guidance the team intends to provide, announced that Brian Dawkins has the new title of football operations executive, three weeks after being hired as a scouting intern. Quintin Mikell, Super Bowl XXXIX teammate of Lewis and Dawkins, is the team's director of player engagement.
Green-Beckham was just Dorial Green growing up in a series of foster homes and shelters, his mother often unable to care for him because of a drug problem, his father absent. He changed his last name when John Beckham, his high school coach, and John's wife, Tracy, adopted him. They'd met Dorial a few years earlier, when he and a brother were living in a home for abused and neglected children. He became the No. 1-ranked high school prospect in the nation, often compared to Randy Moss, but his college career never lived up to that billing.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson, Kansas City's offensive coordinator during the 2015 draft process, said he helped evaluate Green-Beckham and saw a "big, tall, strong, physical receiver, can make plays . . . Really liked him and were intrigued with him, obviously his size and speed."
It was an eventful draft process for Green-Beckham, considered a first-round talent by most evaluators. But he'd been kicked off the team at Missouri after two marijuana-related incidents and then something much more serious: Green-Beckham was said to have shoved his way into his girlfriend's apartment, knocking her roommate backward, down some stairs. ESPN detailed texts from his girlfriend that seemed to be pressuring the roommate not to pursue the matter, and no charges were brought.
Green-Beckham transferred and spent the 2014 season practicing with the Sooners. Then he declared for the draft without ever having played for them, and not having played at all since 2013.
Green-Beckham apparently wasn't much for the finer points in Tennessee, and it's fair to wonder how quickly he will grasp Pederson's offense. But maybe the coach sees some uses that won't involve a lot of complexity right away.
"He's a big, powerful guy and he runs extremely well, as far as slant routes go," Pederson said. "I think in the red zone, if you go back and watch some tape, he's got good vertical leap, he can elevate quickly. He can get over the top of defenders, which is sort of a comfort for the quarterback to be able to just put the ball in his area."
Mularkey recently said this about Green-Beckham, in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story: "Nobody wants to please and do good for this team more than he does. He's just got to find a way to come out every day and make the plays that are called his way. That has got to be every day, and it just hasn't been that way."
Green-Beckham told the St. Louis reporter he'd been putting in extra time to improve. Mularkey's response to that was: "I would do it more. I mean, he does do it. I would do it more."