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Will Eagles' decisions pave the way for a Chip Kelly departure?


 Breaking: Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie has announced new structural change for the Eagles: Howie Roseman has been elevated to Executive VP of Football Ops. Chip Kelly will oversee player personnel department and will lead efforts to hire a new personnel executive.


Over a decade after team owner Jeffrey Lurie referred to his franchise as the “Gold Standard,” the Philadelphia Eagles are still searching for their very first Super Bowl trophy. And in light of the most recent events surrounding this drama-laden, championship-starved football team, the Eagles, just a year removed from winning an NFC East title under first year coach Chip Kelly, once again appear to be a franchise in complete disarray.


On New Year’s Eve, the team decided to “part ways” with vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble, an ally of Kelly’s who is known as a well-respected football man throughout the NFL. Gamble’s dismissal is a little ironic, considering Kelly praised Gamble at recent a press conference, but said very little at that same conference regarding team GM Howie Roseman. In fact, Kelly summed up his relationship with Roseman in one word: “Good." That doesn't exactly scream "ringing endorsement."Photo: USAToday.com


The Eagles have a knack for making controversial personnel decisions in the midst of bigger news stories taking place that particular day. This is most likely done in the event that their story doesn’t gain much traction. Remember when the team severed ties with long-time PA announcer Dan Baker last year on the eve of the NFL Draft? Then on New Year’s Eve, the team decides to make the Gamble announcement. They seriously couldn't have done this on any other day but Wednesday?


Frankly, both of the aforementioned decisions were bad ones, and the Gamble move won't be swept under the rug just because the Eagles’ season is over and a ball was dropped in Times Square Wednesday night.


In fact, don't be surprised if Gamble’s departure factors into Chip Kelly’s decision to remain with the Eagles.


Although the Eagles aren’t exactly forthcoming about who makes the final decisions on drafting and free agency (although Kelly most likely had a hand in last year's Oregon selections Josh Huff and Taylor Hart), Kelly and Roseman’s relationship is apparently strained at best. With Gamble gone, it’s obvious to all that Roseman, Lurie’s right-hand man, now holds the trump card in what has become an apparent power struggle between himself and Kelly. With Gamble no longer in the picture, the question remains: who decided Gamble and the Eagles should go their separate ways? Was it Gamble’s decision? Did the decision come from Lurie? Did Lurie and Roseman mutually agree to part company with him?


It’s no secret throughout the NFL that Roseman is considered by many to be overmatched and out of his league (no pun intended), yet Lurie still entrusts him with most of (if not all) major personnel/football-related decisions. After former Eagles’ president Joe Banner left the Eagles in 2012, it was suggested that Banner was pushed out of his position in a power struggle between Roseman and Andy Reid.


As successful as the Eagles have been during Lurie's ownership, imagine how much better the Eagles could aspire to be if there was any level of consistency in the front office and everyone could work together for the betterment of winning a championship? If the Eagles ever win a Super Bowl with Lurie as an owner, it will be in spite of him rather than because of him. Look at the Seattle Seahawks and the relationship general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have. The Green Bay Packers’ organizational stability is second to none. Ozzie Newsome and his Baltimore Ravens staff have won two Super Bowls. Last but not least, Robert Kraft (Lurie’s mentor) and the New England Patriots consistently put a winning product on the field- despite the whole “spygate” fiasco. Those organizations are the best the NFL has to offer. Frankly, they put the Eagles’ front office to shame.

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Of course, none of these observations were made to suggest that Kelly should be given complete control of the Eagles’ day to day operations. After all, the team did take a step back this year after their successful 2013 season.  During particular games this year, you almost felt like you were watching the same predictable offense from the days of Andy Reid. Even though the Eagles were 9-3 prior to their showdown with the Seahawks, no knowledgeable football fan in the Delaware Valley was completely convinced the team was primed for a Super Bowl run just yet. Moreover, the team’s three game slide that began against Seattle ultimately sealed their fate for the season, and Kelly is partially to blame for that.


That being said, Kelly took an Eagles team that went 4-12 in 2012 and helped them get back to respectability rather quickly in his first two seasons at the helm.  Despite losing DeMeco Ryans in November and having no consistency at the quarterback position all year, a few solid moves during the offseason could have the team back in the playoffs. However, questions remain. The secondary must be improved? Will the team restructure LeSean McCoy's contract? Do you move forward with Nick Foles? Do you draft another quarterback? Do you work on improving an aging offensive line? The upcoming off-season and draft will be crucial for the future of this team, and Kelly and Roseman must try and put their differences aside for the time being and/or find some common ground to help get this team to the next level.


The only problem is, the Eagles don’t have a very good track record at resolving issues that need fixing, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time Eagles fans were left wondering what might have been (see: Owens, Terrell). While nothing is ever guaranteed, but it would be a disservice to the organization and the fans if Chip Kelly leaves Philadelphia before he has a fair amount of time to try and make his mark on this team. Unfortunately, it appears that he's fighting a losing game with just two seasons under his belt, and it looks even worse now that Gamble is gone. As we've seen from his press conferences, Kelly is not a patient man by any means. If things continue to go in the wrong direction, don't be surprised if he takes the next coaching job he's offered and gets out of dodge.


Either way, the Eagles will probably make the decision easy for him.




Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com


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Photo: USAToday.com