Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman: A marriage seemingly made in heaven
Howie Roseman got what he wanted.
In Chip Kelly, the Eagles general manager will have a copilot who will stay on his side of the cockpit.
There had been reports long before the Eagles hired the Oregon coach that Kelly wanted full authority on football matters.
When he showed up for his interviews with the Eagles, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills earlier this month, Kelly made it clear from the get-go that he didn't want final say on personnel matters, a source familiar with his thinking said.
Kelly can be a control freak, two sources close to the coach said. But he is selective over the things he wants to control. Kelly will want little interference over how he coaches his team. He will want to decide on the strength and conditioning program. He will obsess over details as minor as what kind of thigh pads the players wear.
As one source said, "He will turn that place upside down. But he only wants extreme control in certain areas."
Those areas, for the most part, won't collide with Roseman's interests. The young GM wants to build the roster. He wants to lead the draft. He wants to wheel and deal. Roseman did all this when Andy Reid was with the Eagles, but Reid had final say and most of the sway.
Kelly has little interest in the business operations of the NFL. He doesn't care about the salary cap, contracts, or the waiver wire, one source said. Those have been and will remain part of Roseman's domain.
In many ways, a Kelly-Roseman partnership is a perfect melding, at least the one Lurie described the day he fired Reid. Many wondered whether Roseman would have final say or would have to cede some power to the new coach.
Lurie said then that the new coach would report directly to him and that Roseman and the coach would work in unison when crafting the roster. Kelly will certainly have some opinion on players - especially the ones he knows from the college game.
But he will be a novice to the NFL and to many of its customs. That's where Roseman comes in. In this marriage, the 37-year-old GM will start off as the dominant one when it comes to evaluating and acquiring players.
It's a lot of power to hold. Lurie's "streamlining" of the front office was done so that Roseman would have little intrusion. The owner never said how he went about his reorganization, but it was clear he was referring to the phasing out of former team president Joe Banner last offseason.
Reid's firing and Kelly's hiring completed the streamlining. The Eagles are now Roseman's show in terms of player evaluation and acquisition.
The question with Roseman, who initially got his start analyzing the salary cap and working with contracts, was how much he had to do with the disastrous offseasons of 2010 and 2011. Lurie ascribed little blame to Roseman for both years, but the comments Roseman made following both drafts, taking credit for and praising the additions, suggested otherwise.
That didn't even include the free-agent signings and trades Roseman had significant input on. In Lurie's eyes, though, Roseman was responsible for only the 2012 offseason.
Right now, that draft looks above average. But there were some dubious signings (offensive tackle Demetress Bell) and trades (cornerback Asante Samuel), along with some successful signings (guard Evan Mathis) and trades (linebacker DeMeco Ryans).
Kelly will have to lean on Roseman as he goes about building his coaching staff. Roseman knows which candidates have expiring contracts. He likely has a better sense of which NFL assistants would adhere to Kelly's vision on offense and defense.
This could certainly change over time and most likely will be changing the longer Kelly is in the NFL. As with most any working relationship, there will be moments of conflict. Both Kelly and Roseman have strong personalities and opinions. But that doesn't necessarily mean they can't coexist.
Lurie made the final decision on Kelly. But Roseman was as much behind the hiring as any GM could be. The NFL is like a knitting circle, and it was no secret among the chattier that Roseman was keen for Kelly.
Even after Kelly initially snubbed the Eagles, Roseman kept after him. "Spearheaded," is how one team source called Roseman's pursuit. Other executives have chased and convinced innovative college coaches to take the leap.
Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, and Steve Spurrier all had to be persuaded to go to the NFL. All three expressed some hesitancy at leaving college. All three failed at the pro level.
Kelly's ambivalence is well-documented. He took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job last January, only to decide hours later that he didn't want it. He went into this offseason telling his NFL suitors that he was coming, until he decided not to come.
And then he came. He came because he got what he wanted - to coach unimpeded for an owner who would provide him with the necessary tools and to work with a GM who wanted nothing more than to facilitate the process.
It sounds like a marriage made in heaven.
Will it birth championship-winning teams?