By all accounts, the guy who kept pushing and ultimately sealed the deal on getting Chip Kelly to coach the Philadelphia Eagles was GM Howie Roseman, whose triumph was a critical step in getting the fan base to trust his ability to run the team. Eagles fans seem, by and large, skeptical about Roseman, who appears to have significantly more power in the organization now with Joe Banner and Andy Reid gone. And as Rich Hofmann writes, this week represented a pretty big turnaround for Roseman in public perception:
And the reality seems to be that Roseman has emerged from this process more powerful than he has ever been. He kind of winces whenever you bring up this stuff, and talks in elaborate circles whenever the subject of who has final personnel control is raised, but just know this:
The answer used to be that Reid had final say. There was no nuance. Now, there is nuance. Now, no one is willing to say that the coach has final say. In fact, Lurie said, Kelly went out of his way to say that he was not into empire-building, that "I just want to collaborate."
Just listening to everybody talk about it, the structure sounds very much like it did when Tom Modrak was the Eagles' general manager, before Reid took total control of the football operation after a few seasons as coach. That is, the general manager picks the players but he does it with the knowledge that the franchise will collapse if he continually gives the coach square pegs for his round holes.
As is the case with every fresh arrangement, the success of this one will depend on wins and losses. If the next couple of years go poorly in Philadelphia, change in the way things operate is likely. If they go very well, you never know, Kelly could develop a thirst for greater power, and move to acquire it. These are the realities of the way things work in the NFL (and any business, really), and as we have been discussing all week our inability to see into the future prevents us from knowing how it will work out.
But what's clear right now is that Roseman has as significant an opportunity as Kelly has to put his stamp on this franchise and make it his own. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie has implemented a power structure in which Kelly and Roseman both report to him, and while that may carry the potential for confusion it also necessitates that the best interests of one are intertwined with the best interests of the other. Roseman and Kelly both find themselves in a position to prove themselves at a higher level than either has ever occupied. So while all of the Thursday talk of collaboration could easily be dismissed as empty, each has good reason to make it a reality. This was a big week for Roseman, as he and the Eagles got their man long after it appeared they would not. The key is to make sure this ends up looking like a good week in retrospect, too. And on that project, Roseman and Kelly are just getting started.