The dust has settled on the Eagles' front office shake-up, and we'll find out soon enough what the departure of Joe Banner means for the direction of this franchise, which is still seeking its first Lombardi Trophy.
The words power struggle have been used constantly since news broke that Banner was leaving. The term drives most to think of extremes - Andy Reid and Banner on opposite sides of the table, pounding their fists and forcing Jeffrey Lurie to choose between them.
But this situation probably wasn't quite as dramatic. It seems, quite simply, that Banner was not needed to fill the role he had previously occupied.
Howie Roseman was put in place to negotiate contracts and help direct the football aspect of operations - scouting and evaluating players. Essentially, Banner groomed the guy who eventually made him expendable.
Surely, the Eagles could use Banner's skills in some capacity. But the role was not what he wanted. And the control was less than he previously possessed.
Banner's accomplishments with the Eagles have been well-documented. But for all the success the Eagles have had during the Reid era, it's fairly remarkable to look back on how many of their high-profile players felt alienated when doing business with Banner. I've recently written about comments from Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and Jeremiah Trotter. These were players who set the tone in the locker room and on the field. Guys who were respected by teammates and loved by the fan base. The faces of the franchise, who combined exceptional talent and maximum effort on the field, and never had issues off the field.
Those are the players who you want to keep happy, who you want the younger players to look up to. Yet each guy, at one time or another, felt alienated by Banner.
There's been a lot of talk about good cop/bad cop within the Eagles' organization. That, perhaps more than anything else, will be the most interesting aspect to monitor going forward. Players have always felt Reid was in their corner. Any anger or frustration they felt was directed at Banner. The plan with Roseman seems to clearly be to better massage those relationships. So far, it's worked great with players like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis receiving contract extensions. The Eagles deserve credit for getting those deals done and creating a positive environment int he locker room as they prepare for the 2012 season.
But what happens when they have to make a tough call and let a respected veteran go? What happens when Roseman and Drew Rosenhaus disagree on the value of a player? Agents and teams squabble all the time. But it will be interesting to see how the Eagles' approach going forward differs from the past.
As for Reid, one thing is clear: Lurie is making a conscious effort to stay true to his message that the coach's recent performance has been unacceptable.
"No, not at all," said Lurie last week, when asked if Reid would take on more responsibilities with Banner gone. "Andy’s responsibilities are exactly the same as before the transition. There is no increase in any aspect of the job, and it’s Howie who is taking on more responsibilities of the job, as he has for many months now."
Coming off an 8-8 season, the last thing Lurie wants to do is create the impression that he is comfortable and happy with Reid. For years, it was thought that Lurie and Banner would work together and decide when to end their relationship with Reid as head coach. But now, it's Lurie's call, and no one else's.
The relationship could go in a number of different directions. If the Eagles are successful in 2012, Reid could be awarded a contract extension. Perhaps he could be moved into a front-office role, although there would appear to be some overlap there with Roseman.
The other scenario is that Reid is gone next year. Perhaps this offseason was about giving him what he wanted and affording him no excuses in 2012. If the team disappoints, Lurie could decide it's time for the franchise to finally go in another direction, and Reid, who would be a hot commodity on the open market, could decide where to start over.
The shake-up took place last week, but the direction of the franchise hinges in large part on what happens on the field in 2012.
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