Jeffrey Lurie's football franchise needs a lot of things. A head coach for one, given that the historically patient and level-headed Lurie veered from his typical tact and whacked Chip Kelly on Tuesday. A franchise quarterback, given that Sam Bradford will be a free agent in a few months and has shown little enthusiasm or love for Philadelphia. And, among many personnel issues on both sides of the ball, an outside threat at wide receiver, given that Kelly jettisoned DeSean Jackson after his career year in 2013 and then failed to keep Jeremy Maclin after his career year in 2014.
But what Lurie needs most of all is a strong, smart, football-minded general manager who can fix this mess, find the right new head coach and rebuild a roster Kelly eviscerated because he was foolishly convinced that his scheme and his coaching and his style would trump talent. Maybe that works in college. It definitely doesn't work in the big-boy league.
Lurie needs a general manager who has a strategic philosophy on how to build a team through the draft, how to run a scouting department, how to work in conjunction with a head coach and how to use trades and free agency only as a means to plug holes and not as a way to build the nucleus of the roster. He needs a general manager who won't be divisive or disappear when things get rocky, who won't whisper in the owner's ear during games that the coach isn't getting it done. He needs a leader.
And Lurie absolutely cannot whiff on this one as he did in hiring Kelly three years ago and as he did in giving Kelly full control of personnel decisions less than one year ago. He's lost too much already. So much homegrown talent has left the building and gone on to excel elsewhere. The fans are beyond angry; they're apathetic, which was evident during a midseason blowout loss at home to Tampa Bay, when the stands were virtually empty at the end of the third quarter.
The defense is a disaster. The players stopped believing. The atmosphere inside the NovaCare Complex is toxic. There is much work to be done to fix a franchise that was supposed to be going from "good to great," as Lurie said, with Kelly at the helm but instead went from good to pathetic.
What Lurie could do to fill the general manager void created by firing Kelly and his right-hand personnel man, Ed Marynowitz, is reinstate Howie Roseman, his former general manager. That would be a mistake.
When Lurie stripped Roseman of his personnel responsibilities in January in an obvious power play by Kelly, he didn't fire Roseman, who has worked for the Eagles for 16 years. Lurie reduced Roseman's responsibilities but promoted him to executive vice president of football operations and gave him a raise to soften the blow.
All Roseman ever wanted to do was be the Eagles' general manager. It sounds like he essentially will be that again.
During a 21-minute press conference on Wednesday, Lurie said that Roseman will keep his title of executive vice president of football operations but resume control over the personnel department. Lurie elevated Tom Donahoe to senior director of player personnel and said Roseman, Donahoe and the new head coach would collaborate on personnel decisions.
But Roseman didn't work well with Kelly -- Eagles outside linebacker Brandon Graham said the tension between the front office and coaches trickled down and affected the players -- which is why Kelly forced him out of his orbit, if not completely out of the building. Roseman missed on his share of draft picks as well, but say this for him: He didn't endorse releasing Jackson, a dynamic talent, and getting nothing in return.
The fans in Philadelphia wanted to believe Kelly wasn't driving their beloved franchise off the Ben Franklin Bridge. They wanted to believe he knew what he was doing, had a plan and could make it all work, despite one unconventional move after another.
Kelly ultimately didn't know. He had too much power, not enough help and no humility, and because of his abrasive leadership style, he had few allies. On Tuesday, Lurie said enough.
Lurie now has regained control of his franchise. He has huge decisions ahead. He has to find the right head coach, and together they have to find a franchise quarterback. But before he finds either of those he has to hire a strong general manager who can run the football side of his franchise. That could be his most important hire of all.