MOBILE, Ala. -- In between practices at the Senior Bowl, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman took time to sit down with The Inquirer and Daily Newsand discuss some of the issues surrounding the team. Roseman declined to address the perceived uncertainty at defensive coordinator because, really, those decisions come from head coach Andy Reid.
But he was able to shed some light on some of the decisions he has had a hand in that have not panned out, and, quite frankly, Roseman admitted that the Eagles have to re-evaluate the process. Decisions like drafting defensive end Brandon Graham ahead of Pro Bowl end Jason Pierre-Paul; like not finding suitable linebackers for the wide-nine scheme up front; like stockpiling on late draft picks and therefore getting more production out of those players compared to the Eagles' high draft selections.
Roseman also said that he didn't look at the Giants' run to the Super Bowl as proof that the Eagles could have just as easily been there if a few bounces had gone their way.
"When you’re 8-8 and you’re at the Senior Bowl you obviously look back and think there were things you could have done in a different way," Roseman said. He later added: "We're not there."
Here's most of the full text from the interview:
WHEN DO YOU PLAN ON FILLING THE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL VACANCY WITH RYAN GRIGSON NOW THE GM WITH THE COLTS?
We have some people from different organizations and we have some people internally that we like and that have done a good job and that we have confidence in. ... We’re going through some things now and I'm sure after the draft we’ll continue to evaluate it as well.
HOW WILL THIS OFF-SEASON BE DIFFERENT WITH NO LOCKOUT AND NO RESTRICTIONS IN FREE AGENCY?
The timing is normal is terms of the process. ... I guess it will be refreshing but because we’ve been dealing with the calendar the way it's been it’ll be a change. It’ll be a chance to get back to normal and the process that we’ve had. This will be my 13th off-season in Philly. ... The last two years obviously provided some opportunities but also some challenges with the way it was. We’re looking forward to getting started.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS ABOUT SOME OF THE FREE AGENTS YOU SIGNED BEFORE CAMP LAST YEAR?
I think when you’re 8-8 and you’re at the Senior Bowl you obviously look back and think there were things you could have done in a different way – some draft picks you’d like to have back, some signings you would like to have back. But I think that when you step back and you look at the core of the team and the blend of youth and experience and talent, we have an opportunity to be competitive and to be competitive for a long time.
WHY DID YOU SIGN SO MANY OLDER FREE AGENTS?
When we looked at our team last year and we felt that we were really young at a lot of areas and we kind of went back and looked at our team from 2000-08. And what we saw was dramatic change in the core of our team. Obviously we’re playing in the 2008 championship game and you have Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, L.J. Smith and Donovan McNabb and that’s just on the offensive side of the ball. And now we had a bunch of young players. We were a very young team last year and we thought that if we could add some experience with some good players that would add to the core and not just for one year. We had been saying this all along -- we were just trying to add guys that hopefully would be here for more than just a year or two, that maybe there will be a nice blend of youth and experience and help us go further.
IS LINEBACKER AN ORGANIZATIONAL BLINDSPOT?
I can only speak of all the conversations I've been in and the conversations we have internally and there’s not one position that we look and don’t think has an impact. We don’t devalue that position. Have there been opportunities that maybe haven’t worked out because maybe a player gets picked right before we picked and we’re in negotiation to sign someone and it doesn’t work out? No doubt about that. That’s something we’ll look at like we’ll look at all areas of the team. We’re not sitting here and saying that we don’t want good players at all positions. Obviously there are 22 spots and you can't have superstars at every position.
BUT WHEN YOU WENT TO THE WIDE-NINE WHY DIDN'T YOU REALIZE THAT YOU NEEDED TO UPGRADE AT LB?
I think that throughout the course of last off-season whether it was in the draft or free agency we explored options at that position as well as others. Unfortunately, in this business you don’t always get everything you want and it doesn’t work out perfectly. The plan that you have or the picks that you want or the draft board as you set it out – there are 31 other teams that you’re competing with. Certainly we want to get better and we want to get better in all areas. Eight and eight is not good enough and we’ll look at all those things here.
IS IT TRUE THAT YOU JUST CAN'T BE STRONG AT ALL THE POSITIONS?
You look at these teams right now playing in the Super Bowl, all of us can sit here and say they have a weakness at a certain position. The National Football League is about resources – you have a salary cap, you have draft picks, and you got to fit things into those two things, so it's not a buffet. You can’t have everything you want and you certainly have to make priorities and figure it out. Those are part of the choices you make when you’re building a team.
IS THERE ANY LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM THE GIANTS' SUCCESS THIS SEASON?
The Giants have been doing the same thing they’ve been doing for years and they’ve had a lot of success with. Obviously they got a great pass rush and they got great quarterback play and they’re hitting on all cylinders at the right time. That’s why we always talk if you give yourself an opportunity to get into the playoffs anything can happen. They’re a great example of that.
DO YOU VIEW THE GIANTS' RUN AND THINK THAT YOU COULD HAVE BEEN THAT TEAM?
I’m not big on "what ifs." That’s not really how I operate because you can drive yourself crazy in this business about "what ifs." Whether it’s a guy you wanted to pick and he’s picked right before you or negotiating with a free agent and being the second guy in or thinking about the games you could have won. You are what your record says you are and we got to get better and improve and that includes me.
IS THE FACT THAT IT'S THE GIANTS TWIST THE KNIFE MORE?
When you’re competitive obviously you’re paying attention to who’s in the Super Bowl. I think that for all of us it’s that we’re not there. Obviously that’s the priotiy -- us getting back there. No matter who’s playing it's going to be painful for us and we got to take that and use it as motivation and try to improve and have a good off-season and make good decisions and come together as a team, which I think we saw towards the end of the year. We have the potential to do that and get on a run and make 2012 a great year.
IS IT GOING TO BE HARD TO FIND A GOOD BACKUP QB?
I think this discounts that we have confidence in Mike Kafka. We drafted Mike Kafka and he’s never had an off-season with us. He had a lot of the tools that we look for in starting quarterbacks. That’s why we drafted him. You’re talking about a smart, big, athletic guy. And now he’s going to have his first off-season in Philadelphia with our coaching staff. … Like every other position that doesn’t mean we’re always not going to look to strengthen our roster. But we do have confidence in the quarterbacks we have.
WHY DID YOU DRAFT GRAHAM BEFORE PIERRE-PAUL?
Obviously we spent a lot of time with the defensive ends in that draft. We spent a lot of time with all the guys that went in the range that we [picked]. … We still think Brandon Graham’s going to be a really good player. Brandon Graham had a very significant injury. We’re talking about an ACL plus microfracture knee surgery. Unfortunately, we knew this year was going to be more of getting him back. As our coaches have pointed out we still have high hopes for him. Obviously we couldn't have known where we are today – we don’t have that information. We’re talking about a guy that playerd four years at Michigan, was a two-time captain, averaged ten sacks a year. There was a great track record of success. I think for us, it wasn't so much about the other players as it was the consistency he showed in college. A lot of times when you’re into the draft you have these decisions about making kind of what we talk about -- doubles vs. Dave Kingman trying to go for the long ball. I'm not talking about a particularly player here, but those are some of the tough decisions that you have because you have other factors involved.
THIRD SEASON BIG FOR GRAHAM?
There’s a huge sense of urgency with Brandon Graham. He knows that. We know that. He’s got to come in great shape and show all the things that we saw, quite frankly, that we saw in training camp in his first year when all of us said this guy's going to be a really great player, he’s kind of what we thought he was going to be and then injuries kind of knocked him down a little bit. He knows it because it’s really hard to come in as a high first-round pick and have three years that where you’re not producing. So we have high expectations for him.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS WITH DESEAN JACKSON?
I think I can reiterate what Jeffrey [Lurie] and Andy have said, which is that we have a great affection for DeSean Jackson and he’s a heck of a player and we’ve been happy to have him and the future is bright for DeSean Jackson.
HAVE YOU LOOKED INTO CHANGING THE EVALUATION PROCESS?
No question. First, we’ve kind of overhauled our scouting staff in the last couple of years, and we’ve changed how we grade players and how we look at players. That's a work in progress. We feel that we’re making a lot of lot strides. We’re never going to be perfect in that regard.
DID YOU OVERRATE DANNY WATKINS, JAIQUAWN JARRET AND CURTIS MARSH?
I’d say that you always want to take the best player and ... and you try to implement that but human nature is such that there are times that you are pushing things up because there are things you want and whether that’s a specific position or a specific quality in a player -- whether that's toughness, intelligence, leadership. I think those are things that you have to look at and kind of evaluate and see if maybe you're putting too much weight on one area and not another. Those are the things that you got to learn from and figure out. You talk specifically about our guys, it’s hard in this league, especially with this short off-season and come in and play at a high level. I think we can all see Danny improve and get better and is going to be a good player. Talking about a safety [Jarrett], a position that’s getting people lined up. That’s an off-season kind of work. When we drafted Curtis we said this as a guy that we thought had a lot of physical tools and needed a year, but it’s hard to find big, fast corners who are smart and tough. I think really we don’t get so much into you want to get players at the right value and you have to also feel like if you have a player in a range and he’s not going to be there the next time you pick and you have confidence in a player and there's not [a chance] to move back a couple of spots you’re going to pick that player. That’s happening around a league, that’s why we spend seven months and really years looking at these guys because of the confidence we have.
WHY ARE YOU GETTING MORE PRODUCTION OUT OF LATE-ROUND PICKS INSTEAD OF TOP PICKS, COMPARITIVELY SPEAKING, THE LAST TWO YEARS?
I think that’s something you have to look at. What are we doing in the middle and later rounds that were getting these players that are producing at these levels that we can make that work for us throughout the draft and throughout the process? Obviously, that’s something that is at the forefront is getting impact throughout the draft. We got to look at all that. ... For us, really, the percentages in the draft – even in the first round – you’re talking 50 percent and you're talking about as you go down the percentage is lower. The more chances you got the more chances you have at getting good players and when we look back at it we just want to get good players. If we get Philip Hunt from the CFL and our third round player doesn’t work out – is that ideal? No. But we got to make sure we get the players somehow, some way. That’s why were scouting all these other leagues, that's why we're signing free agents, that’s why were manning the waiver claims. We just want to build the best 53-man team we can and would it be the best situation to have our superstars come from the top of the draft and kind of work symmetrically like that – yeah, probably. But as long as we’re getting the talent on the field at the end of day that’s really our job.